WU Rugby Sweeps Pitt 7’s Tournament to Open 7’s Season
Pittsburgh, PA. – The Wheeling University Rugby team (11-2-1) opened up their spring 7's season on Saturday when they completed at the Pitt 7's Tournament. They ended up winning all four of their games to win the tournament beating Pitt Grey, Dayton, and West Chester before taking on Pitt Blue in the finals and winning 24-12. Wheeling allowed no more than those 12 points in any of their four games, including two shutout victories.
Game One: Wheeling 36, Pitt Grey 0
The Wheeling offense flexed their muscles right away in the opener scoring six tries in a 38-0 win. In the first half, Noam Taurin got the scoring started with a try that had Wheeling ahead 5-0. Alec Thomas added his first try of the sprig season and a missed conversion kick made it 10-0. After winning the NCR Rhino Rugby Bowl MVP in December, Chief Chipfumbu kept the scoring going with a straight try to bring the score to 17-0. Ayoub Jalli converted his first conversion kick of the day on the previous try and added a try of his own and another conversion kick to make it 24-0 heading into halftime.
As the second half began, Wheeling scored two more tries to secure the win. Jalli got the scoring started with his second try of the day and added the conversion kick to put Wheeling ahead 31-0. Rua Karimazondo ended the first game with his first try of the day as another Jalli conversion kick brought the game to it's final score of 38-0. Five different Cardinals scored tries in the game, led by Jalli with two, and Jalli went four for six on conversion kicks in game one.
Game Two: Wheeling 38, Dayton 0
After leading the way with two tries in the first game, Jalli was back at it in game two as he got the scoring started with his third try of the day and made the conversion kick to give Wheeling an early 7-0 lead. Chipfumbu would add his second try of the day later in the half to give Wheeling the 12-0 lead early. The Cardinals added one final try before halftime as Jalli scored for the fourth time in two games, but a missed conversion kick sent the teams into the locker room with the score sitting at 17-0.
In the second half, Anthony Krzesinski scored his first try of the year to get thing started and Jalli converted his sixth conversion kick of the day to give Wheeling a 24-0 lead. Jalli's fifth try of the day made it 29-0 and the offense ended with Mohamed Haddar finding the goal line for his first try of the day. Haddar would also score the conversion kick and Wheeling would win the match by the 38-0 score. Jalli once again led the scoring effort with three tries, while going 2-5 on conversion kicks. Haddar scored his first try of seven's season and went 1-1 on conversion kicks.
Game Three: Wheeling 41, West Chester 5
Match three was the first time all day that Wheeling had to play from behind as West Chester made the first try of the day to lead 5-0. Haddar got momentum going after scoring the final try in match two, and added the first try of match three and a missed conversion kick would make tie the game at five. Rati Ramishvili would get going in his first seven's season as he scored each of the next two tries for his first two scores of the day. Wheeling would miss both conversion kicks, and headed into halftime ahead 15-5.
Chipfumbu got the second half scoring started with his third try of the day and concerted Wheeling's first conversion kick of the game to make it 22-5. Stanley Giani would get in on the scoring with his first try of the day before Jalli made the conversion kick to give Wheeling a 29-5 lead. Karimazondo scored his second try of the day to make it 34-5, and Jalli made his sixth try of the day and converted the conversion kick to bring the game to it's 41-5 final score. With the win, Wheeling qualified for the Tournament Championship against Pitt Blue.
Game Four: Wheeling 24, Pitt Blue 12
The final game of the day was the closest one for Wheeling, but they once again never played from behind. Chipfumbu made the first try of the game and the conversion kick gave Wheeling a 7-0 lead. Karimazondo would add another try for his day but a missed conversion made it 12-0. The final score if the first half came from Haddar, his third of the day, and Wheeling went into halftime ahead 17-0.
The second half saw Haddar convert his second try of the game, fourth of the day, and a Jalli conversion kick made it 24-0 in favor of the Cardinals. Pitt added two tries and one conversion kick at the end of the game, but Wheeling was able to win 24-12 to win their first tournament of the season. Head Coach Mike Geibel was proud of his team's play to kick off seven's season.
"The guys played really well especially for the first tournament of the season," said Geibel. "Overall the structure and play of the team are starting from a very high level so we are very optimistic about what we can achieve this season."
The Wheeling University Rugby team is back in action on Saturday, March 19th, when they play a 15's match against the Three Rivers Conference All-Stars.