Frost crunched beneath the cleats for UMWRFC and their competition as the annual Wolverine 7s tournament began. Wolverine 7s is UMWRFC’s annual spring home tournament, which often serves as a Qualifier for the 7s National tournament. In 2018, Michigan hosted five other BIG10 teams from around the nation to compete for the opportunity to advance to Nationals. While the last few Wolverine 7s tournaments have been blessed with good weather and clear, sunny skies, 2018’s tournament was not so lucky. Fortunately the freezing temperatures and vigorous wind could not put a damper on the enthusiasm for rugby on the pitch that day.
Michigan A started the day with a victory against rival Michigan State (B) (24-10). Savannah Struble ‘20, Gaia Cicerchia ‘18, and grad student Sam Taylordean ‘21 scored tries, and Vicky Whydell ‘19 made two conversions. This win helped to solidify the A side’s chemistry and confidence on the field. In their second match of pool play, Michigan A had found their footing as a well-gelled team and played formidably against Purdue, and triumphed 41-0. Tries were made by Kat Sourine ‘20, Vicky Whydell ‘19, Christa Hansma ‘20, Jill Cwycyshyn ‘21, and Sam Taylordean ‘21 scored tries, and Gaia Cicerchia ‘18 made three conversions. Pool play concluded for Michigan A with a critical game against Indiana University: in order to advance to a favorable trophy semifinal game, Michigan A needed to beat IU. The match was a nail-biter, and two crucial components: a Michigan conversion thwarted by wind, and a dramatic last-play try with a successful conversion, combined in favor of IU (14-12). Emily Carlson ‘19 and Sam Taylordean ‘21 scored tries, and Gaia Cicerchia made one conversion. This match set Michigan A up to play against Penn State in the trophy semifinal game.
Michigan B kicked off the day by squaring up against Penn State University, who showed themselves to be the stiffest competition of the tournament. While Michigan B did not secure a win over the Nittany Lions, they ran largely effective defense to minimize the score to three tries per half– which were kept to the outer limits of the field, providing for a slimmer scoreline due to the difficult angles of the resulting conversions. Throughout the rest of pool play, Michigan B remained unsuccessful, losing to Notre Dame (0-43) and to Michigan State A (0-37).
Heading into 5th place semifinals, Michigan B couldn’t match Michigan State B’s four tries, but nearly tied the match by winning their conversions. Unfortunately, one conversion fell short, resulting in a win for Michigan State B (19-20). Iman Mamnoon ‘20, Roxy Taginya ‘18, and Jade DeLong ‘21 scored tries, and Emma Buis ‘20 made two conversions. Michigan B ended the day with a win against Purdue (17-15). Tries were scored by Iman Mamnoon ‘20 and Emma Buis ‘20, with one conversion made Overall, Michigan B won 7th place in the tournament. In their Cup semi-final match against Penn State, Michigan A put up a strong fight, but could not prevail over PSU’s clean and controlled play. In their final match of the tournament, Michigan A focused on maintaining their pool play success. The senior class led the A-side to beat Indiana (22-14), with scores tried by Gaia Cicerchia ‘18, Sam Taylordean ‘21, Jen Bourlier ‘18, and Vicky Whydell ‘19, and two conversion made by Gaia Cicerchia ‘18. Michigan A took 3rd place in the tournament. Penn State won in the Final against Notre Dame (29-5), and continued to USA College 7s, in Glendale Colorado.
After the competition on the field concluded, the remaining teams gathered for the awards presentation. Annually, an award is presented to the Most Valuable Player of the tournament and the individual or team that has demonstrated outstanding sportsmanship, as voted by the officials. After countless stiff-arms, line breaks, and five tries, the MVP award was presented to Sam Taylordean, Michigan’s forwards captain. The award for sportsmanship was presented to Katie O’Hare, from Penn State University. The Purdue team should also be commended for their excellent display of sportsmanship: even though they had only five ruggers fit to play by the end of they day, Purdue happily arranged to play a modified 5s game with Michigan B.
Wolverine 7s 2018 proved to be a day full of tough competition, adverse weather conditions, and pure rugby fun! Michigan looks forward to hosting again in 2019, and coming out onto the field even stronger.