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Winners & Losers: NAI 7s Edition



**Now, before anyone gets upset at the title just read the blog**


What a crazy weekend! Salt Lake City, Utah hosted the largest 7s tournament in North America which had some of the best teams and players in attendance. Here are some thoughts from my time in attendance:


WINNERS


  1. Majestics- The high school girls team out of Utah is probably the best team you've never heard of. They are LOADED with talent on their top team and have even more great players in their pipeline! Shawnee Asiata stole the show and is an example of what a captain should be. It was just so much fun to watch them this weekend.

  2. Eagle High Mustangs U18 Girls- Idaho is a sleeper for rugby talent. This team from, you guessed it, Eagle, Idaho was a pleasure to watch. Made up of mostly young players their culture matched their talent which was standard setting. Their coach, Eli Mandel, has an extensive football background. All of the good things you can think about when it comes to the football culture exists inside this team. They celebrate the small things, they celebrate the big things, and they are genuinely a pleasure to watch play with a very direct, fast, and fundamentally strong system.

  3. Rebel Rugby Academy- With an impressive 4 sides in the tournament they have went from a start-up operation to a powerhouse in a short amount of time. While their roster has some impressive names on it I feel a lot is owed to their subtle top-tier coaching team. Their staff has some of the best domestic coaches that no one has heard of. Their U18 Elite final was a thing of beauty to watch. This was their second year in a row they've won it and I'm excited to see them return in 2024 to defend their crown.


LOSERS


  1. The Heat- No this isn't another team you've never heard of. We are talking about the crushing, boiling, steaming, heat wave that Utah treated everyone to. With temperatures over 100 degrees most of the day it was an experience not for the faint of heart. Teams referees, tournament support staff, and spectators did an incredible job managing the intense conditions.

  2. The Venue- The Regional Athletic Center is one of the better venues in the region but it is not without its challenges. One field was infested with bugs, another field had its 5m line to the back of the tryzone resemble a sand box painted green, and the parking issue continues to a problem. I hope the RAC starts to give this event the respect it deserves and works with the organizers to find solutions to the challenges.

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