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The USQRA is proud to announce the continuation of Team FORCE. The next generation of great coaches, staff and athletes will begin with the selection of a Head Coach and Team Leader.
Seven months after breaking his neck in a diving accident, Drew Hoffman sat in a rugby chair for the first time last June. Seven months later, he traveled to Tampa, Fla., to compete in his first tournament with the Denver Harlequins.
If you hang around long enough things repeat themselves. Good players come, some stay and some go. For the Stampede it has never been a “we have lost a player that their departure in of itself devastates the team” but instead a “let’s reload and continue to be the best we can be” attitude, its what drives us.
The Phoenix rugby season started a little slower than most seasons with four players getting back from the 2012 Paralympics in September. After Scott, Nick, Chance and I took some much deserved time off, the Fusion started its season getting ready for Best of the West in November. The tournament was top notch as always, and the Fusion beat the Aoki-led North Stars twice to take 1st place. After a long holiday season filled with scrimmages, Thanksgiving meals, scrimmages, tryouts for Ernie and me, Christmas gifts, and more scrimmages the team was ready to go play someone else again. We flew up to Portland and had a lot of fun playing against other teams and devouring some Voodoo Donuts. (We are the heaviest team in the league for a reason.) Portland and their hometown crowd proved to be too much this time around and we settled for 2nd place.
The Portland Pounders hosted their 17th annual rugby tournament January 18-20. The weather was unseasonably warm and dry. Some great rugby was expected as the top three teams in the country were in attendance as well as the Seattle Slam and the BC Bandits. The tournament started with a bang Friday evening as the top-seeded Phoenix Fusion squared off with the third seed and hosts, the Portland Pounders. The Fusion took an early lead but they were unable to build on it. The Pounders rallied back in the second half to regain the lead and close out the game with an exciting three goal victory, 48-45. Also, in the evening the Minnesota North Stars took care of BC by a score of 57-47 and the Pounders closed things out by beating Seattle 57-40.
It always amazes me how the turnover of a player or two change the dynamic of a team. For example, the addition of a great international player can take a team from “almost there” to multiple championships. It also amazes me that our team was 6th in the nation in 2007 during a season when we beat the Portland Pounders at Nationals. Two seasons later in 2009 we increased our ranking by one to hit an all-time high of 5th in the nation. What was special about that team was the inclusion of a dynamic import who not only had the ball-handling skills and speed to make an impact, but also the floor leadership to guide the team through difficult on-court situations.