Following a breakout, inaugural sevens season last year (that saw the Gaels go all the way to Nationals at Texas A&M and finish 5th in the nation), the Gaels are back for more in 2012. After three warm up tournaments, the Gaels are about to get serious, as they head into the California Qualifier in San Luis Obispo on November 10th and 11th.
This year’s team has a strong base of sevens experience now. Tony Samaniego, Mark Bass and John Tyler return to coach the Gaels with a core of returning players like Jordan Bouey, Lloyd Evans, Garrett Brewer, Bubba Jones, Kingsley McGowan, and Nick Wallace, who can provide valuable knowledge to this year's sevens team, given their experience last year.
Heading into November, the Gaels have already paid a number of visits to tournaments, in preperation for qualifiers. The Gaels hosted the first tournament, which pitted opponents Santa Clara, Sacramento State, and Davis against Saint Mary's in a long day of sevens rugby. The Gaels finished the day undefeated. At the West Coast Invitational in Arroyo Grande, the road to the championship was not as easy, but the Gaels finished in triumph, beating Cal 17-12 in the semifinal and following it up with a comeback win, 35-19, against Cal Poly in the finals. The final tournament for the Gaels, before the California Qualifier, was the Stanford Invitational where Saint Mary’s lost two games in a great lineup of opponents that included Stanford, UCLA, Cal, and Santa Rosa JC.
Team cohesion, determination for success and a natural tendency for the strategy and quicker pace of sevens allows Saint Mary's to be highly successful in this game. "It has been fun and great learning experience." explains fifth year player, Tim Maupin. "Sevens helped improve areas of my game and helps me see rugby from a different perspective. It doesn’t hurt to be playing with the guys that I am playing with. They make the long, intense game days of sevens tournaments much more bearable.”
After a great fall showing, and immense preparation from coaches and athletes, Saint Mary's will head to the California Qualifier in San Luis Obispo on November 10th and 11th. Should the Gaels qualify for Nationals, the team will return to College Station, Texas, and the campus of Texas A&M University on Friday, November 30 and Saturday, December 1, 2012 for the National 7s Tournament.