Tournament Report: Tijuana 7s, May 12 2017
Author: Eric Pray
The San Diego Old Aztec Tunas’ ventured south of the border on a sparkling Saturday, May 12 and captured the Cup at the Tijuana 7’s rugby tournament. Hosted by the Wolverines Rugby Club of Tijuana at the Tijuana Sports Complex, the tournament was sanctioned by Mexico 7’s Rugby and featured seven clubs from California and Baja California. The Tunas featured a strong side with some international flair, as players from Mexico, US and Canada all pulled on the red and black and took to the fast turf pitch to torch the competition.
The Tunas first took on the South Bay Stingrays in pool play, and came away with a 29-5 victory. After a slow start that saw the Stingrays sneak a try, it was the Tunas who quickly added to the scoreboard as the bigger fish began to hit their stride and bite back. The Tunas would concede only one try in their next 3 matches. Next up was the Mexicali Centinelas, the strongest of the four Baja clubs in the competition. The Tunas ran roughshod over the outgunned club, 46-0. With the victory, the Tunas clinched a spot in the semifinals and awaited their next opponent.
The Centinelas fought back to earn a semifinal spot against the Tunas, and the result was similar to the first: a Tuna shutout. Strong tackling, good ball retention and pass accuracy saw the ball continually spun out wide, where the Tunas could exploit their open field advantage and sprint in for try after try to advance to the finals.
The Championship featured the Tunas vs another north-of-the-border club, the Temecula Mountain Lions. The Mountain Lions were also undefeated in the lead up to the final, and this match was a physical competitive affair. The Tunas leapt to a 10-0 lead thanks to breakaway tries by Connor Mariani and Boomer Roller, but the Mountain Lions clawed their way back with a long try to make the score 10-7 at the end of the first half. In the second half, the Tunas struck first to make the score 15-7, and despite a yellow card putting the club a Tuna down to finish the match, the score would hold and the Tunas celebrated a solid Championship performance.
Connor Mariani (pictured above right, with Dr. Love holding the trophy) led the Tunas on the day with six tries and two conversions. Boomer Roller and Jeremy Ottawa were close behind on the try count, and strong tackling by Joe Wesolek, Matt Ryan and Felipe Diaz anchored the defense. The after party featured another great performance by the Tunas, as most of the team stuck around to consume as much free Mexican beer as they could, looking sharp in their fresh “Tijuana 7’s Campeones” t-shirts. See you at the next tournament, blub blub.