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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

USA RUGBY 2013 NATIONAL 7s CHAMPIONS: SEATTLE OPSB RUGBY!


RUGBY Magazine’s 2012 7s Player of the Year has another accolade to boast of as Mike Palefau captained Seattle Old Puget Sound Beach to the 2013 Men’s 7s Club Championships. Mike Palefau in action for OPSB this weekend. Tim Bintrim photo. Mike Palefau in action for OPSB this weekend. Tim Bintrim photo. In doing so he led a diverse group of players, from college, from Fiji, from international teams and high schools in Washington. 

“It was really easy,” Palefau told RUGBYMag of captaining Beach. “They guys were up for the challenge. The guys came here, we said we were going to win it, and we reinforced it before every game. We said, ‘this is another speed bump in our quest to the championship,’ and from the get-to we knew we were going to win. It was never a question.” 

Palefau said the feeling wasn’t cockiness, it was confidence. They remembered what it was like to lose to the Chicago Lions in the quarterfinals last year, finishing 5-1 to win the Plate, but to fall short of their goal.


“We used that as motivation to know that all the teams are good here and you can’t afford to come out and switch off,” Palefau said. “So that was one thing we emphasized, to stay strong even if we’re up to stay on because it might transfer into your next game.”

They had to stay mentally strong in the final, when Denver dominated possession and led 5-0 until late in the first half. It really should have been a much bigger lead for the Barbarians, but Beach’s defense was outstanding.

“We knew they were going to do that,” said Palefau of Denver’s plan to keep the ball. “They have a similar style as Chicago. They like to hold onto the ball and setup the rucks. They’re really good at setting rucks and keeping you out of it, so we knew if we could get the ball we’d have a chance to score. It was a matter of sticking to it and playing D. We knew they were going to come at us and go side to side. I don’t know how many rucks there were in the first half. It was definitely tiring, but we were just waiting for our chance and we got it.”

After last year’s disappointment, when Beach was arguably the best team in the nation all summer, this year is a relief.

“It’s awesome, especially after last year,” enthused Palefau. “Everybody was bummed out about [2012]. Then you add in the Super League final last year and the DI final this year, we kind of came in with the attitude that this was our time to win. The last two finals in 15s and then obviously the disappointment last year … this was great and definitely one of my best championships.”

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