The Saint Mary's men's rugby 7s team concluded its best-ever season by taking second place in the USA Rugby College 7s National Championships, held Nov. 23-24 in Greensboro, N.C. and in February was ranked number one in the nation.
The Gaels have improved each year since the 7s national championship tournament began in 2011, finishing fifth that year and fourth in 2012.
At Greensboro the Gaels were dominant in pool play, defeating Middle Tennessee State, Arizona State and Oklahoma. They went on to defeat Lindenwood in the quarterfinals and Central Washington in the semifinals before falling in the championship match to Arkansas State, a team Gaels coach Tony Samaniego described as "one of the best 7s teams I have seen in a long time."
Traditionally rugby is played with 15 players on each team. The 7s version is played with the same rules on the same size field, but with only seven players on each team. The matches are also shorter, and teams typically play six matches over just two days in tournament play. Saint Mary’s fields 7s teams in the fall and competes in 15s play in the spring.
The men's 7s team finished its season with a record of 27-3. "To get through the tournaments you need depth," Samaniego said. "Our reserves have to be just as good as our starters, and we have that now. And with our success, high school rugby players from across the country are seeking us out to combine a great academic experience with the chance to play college rugby at the highest level."