SAN MARCOS, Texas – The University of Texas guaranteed a spot in its third consecutive College 7s National Championship by winning its conference tournament Saturday, Sept 28.
Texas, playing in its first season as a member of the Southwest Rugby Conference, won the conference’s automatic qualifying tournament in San Marcos, Texas. The Longhorns went undefeated in the double elimination-formatted event.
UT settled into the finals by collecting wins against North Texas, Lamar and Rice. North Texas used wins against host Texas State and Texas Christian University to earn another crack at the Longhorns.
Undaunted by the difficult task of needing to beat the undefeated Texas squad twice in a row to win the conference championship, North Texas went to the break tied 14-all. However, UT controlled the second half and eventually ran away to a 43-14 win and its first Southwest Rugby Conference 7s title.
Junior center Taylor Hayes, who had a hat-trick in both the semi-finals and finals, attributes his team’s conditioning to their dominant second half.
“We’ve been running a lot at practice, focusing on our fitness…and helped our defense get stronger in the second half,” Hayes said.
The Longhorns will have the opportunity to test their skills against stiffer opponents before they head to Greensboro, N.C., for the 2013 USA Rugby College 7s National Championship. UT will be traveling to Norman, Okla., to participate in the Allied Rugby Conference’s third and final sevens event of the fall.
It is in Norman where Texas will likely line up on the same pitch as 2012 College 7s National Champion Arkansas State, as well as a vastly improved Oklahoma Sooners club. These will be challenges to which Hayes and his teammates look forward.
“We strive on playing better opponents than ourselves,” Hayes said. “It makes us better players, it makes us stronger and it develops character. That’s what our team is about, and we’ve got the guys to meet the challenge.”