Navy capped off an undefeated Empire 7s championship with a 43-10 defeat of Stony Brook Saturday night to win an automatic bid to the inaugural USA Rugby 7s national championships.
The Midshipmen pounded Iona 26-5 in one semifinal, and Stony Brook beat Binghamton 21-14 in the other.
“I think that we weren’t really technical in our rugby, but we’re pretty rock solid, and that’s what held us through. Guys made smart plays, and at the end of the day, smart overcame,” Navy coach Mike Flanagan said.
“They played great all day, we played great all day, and we met them in the final and they put it to us,” added Stony Brook coach Jerry Mirro. “They were bigger, stronger, fitter. Much better team than when I watched them in the CRC last year, much better.”
Flanagan agreed with Mirro’s assessment that the Midshipmen had improved in the last six months, and he credited more time with 7s specialist Mike Coyner.
“I think Mike Coyner, we’ve spent a little more time working on it, and I think he’s done a good job. We have some shape and some substance to what we want to do, and we have a pretty good collaborative effort with the coaches. We have some guys who can pick some players and we have some guys who can run some drills and Mike gives us the direction we want to go in.”
Flanagan picked Spencer Wilson, Ricky Feller and Jack McAuliffe as his tournament standouts.
“Offensively and defensively all of them were standouts, but Spencer, he turned a half a dozen balls over that turned into scores,” said Flanagan. “He’s just got a real knack for getting his hands on the ball in a poaching situation, and when he gets his hands on it he turns it into something special for us.”
Will Navy accept the automatic bid to nationals Dec. 16-17 in College Station, Texas?
“Right now it’s doubtful. It comes at a really bad time. I just don’t know if we can get there the week before Christmas,” said Flanagan. “For us, we’d have to leave on a Wednesday and then Friday and Saturday are the rugby, and we’ve got finals every one of those days. It’s really doubtful right now, but you never know. Things might change.”
Navy 43-10 Stony Brook
Stony Brook 21-14 Binghamton
Navy 26-5 Iona
Navy 47-0 Coast Guard
Providence 15-5 Coast Guard
Stony Brook 26-14 AIC
AIC fft. over Seton Hall
Stony Brook fft. over Seton Hall
Fordham 29-0 Montclair
Binghamton 20-7 Fordham
Binghamton 34-0 Montclair
Iona 28-19 Albany
Albany 29-19 Sony Brook B
Iona 28-0 Stony Brook B