Life Chiropractic College West sent a pair of rugby teams to the USA Rugby Club 7s National Championship, which was contested Aug. 10-11 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Gladiators and Gladiatrix both performed admirably, with the men finishing second and the women advancing to the semifinals.
The Gladiators qualified for nationals with a win in the Western Open earlier this summer. That tournament included a win over rival Belmont Shore in the final, and another match against that squad would prove to be a pivotal one. After defeating Dallas 24-19 and falling to Old Blue of New York 21-5, Life West needed a win to ensure a spot in Sunday’s Cup tournament. After falling behind 7-0 early in the contest, the Gladiators reeled off 19 consecutive points en route to a 26-14 triumph.
Sunday’s action kicked off with a quarterfinal match against the Westside Ronins. Life West prevailed in a 14-7 defensive struggle to punch a ticket to the semifinals against the Schuylkill River Elites. The Gladiators jumped out to an early 12-0 lead, but yielded back-to-back tries and conversions and fell behind 14-12. However, Tim Stanfill and Martini Talapusi combined to score the final 10 points of the match, which locked up a 22-14 win.
The Gladiators then took the field for the Cup final against Washington Athletic, a squad that had outscored its previous four opponents by a combined tally of 84-10. Life West scored the first seven points of the contest but ultimately fell 24-7 to the Athletic, who earned the title of tournament champions.
Meanwhile, the Gladiatrix qualified for nationals with a second-place finish in July’s Pacific North Championship. Life West’s women concluded Saturday’s pool play with a perfect 3-0 record that was forged by dominant defense. Wins over the Chicago Lions (12-7), Boston Rugby (32-5) and American Rugby Pro Blue (7-5) clinched a spot in Sunday’s Cup quarterfinals against Phoenix Rugby.
That contest proved to be incredibly one-sided. The Gladiatrix scored the first 14 points of the game and never looked back, ultimately rolling to a 26-7 victory that sent the squad to a national semifinal clash against the San Diego Surfers.
Life West started strong, as Amy Naber’s try and conversion gave the Gladiatrix an early 7-0 lead. However, the Surfers scored 19 consecutive points, and despite a late try and conversion from Life West’s Neariah Persinger, the Gladiatrix fell 19-14. The Surfers went on to defeat the Berkeley All Blues 21-12 in the national championship game.
The strong showings at the tournament conclude banner 7s seasons for both squads. The Life West men and women swept the Northern California Rugby Football Union tournaments in San Jose, and the Gladiatrix also took down the Santa Barbara “Sevens by the Sea” tournament as well.
The focus now shifts to the fall season, during which the Gladiatrix will debut in the Women’s Premier League for new head coach Dev Ferris. The Life West women moved up in class following three consecutive national championships, and their “fifteens” team will be looking for more glory and trophies later this year.