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Championship Weekend Recap

By Rugby Illinois, 05/31/16, 8:30PM CDT

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Results from the state championships on Memorial Day weekend

The 2016 Rugby Illinois state championship weekend was a fantastic success.  Sunny skies (maybe a little too much?) and exciting rugby were a perfect combination in Rockford to wrap up the competitive season in style.

From an all day festival to decide champions in four middle school divisions on Sunday to state championship and consolation title matches in seven boys and girls high school divisions on Monday, it was a celebration of quality youth rugby to cap off the 2016 spring season, and we have all the results!

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MIDDLE SCHOOL

First off were the middle school championships on Sunday, May 29. Teams from the U14 and U12 divisions converged on the Mercy Sportscore Two complex for a full day of action on four pitches exceeding the tempo of any three ring circus.

The day started with consolation matches and semifinal matches in all the divisions.  The finals followed in the afternoon.

The U14 Division 1 teams provided some exciting rugby at the top level of middle school competition. The Chiefs from Fox Valley opened with a strong 34-5 semifinal victory over the KIPP Ascend Mountain Lions, while the Glen Ellyn Stingers edged the Fox Valley Predators 10-7 to earn a spot in the final.  A close-fought final saw the Chiefs take top honors in a close 14-10 victory over the Stingers, where conversion kicks provided the margin of victory. An exciting third place match ended with a 34-29 victory by the Predators over the Mt. Lions.

While most of the semifinals worked out as expected based on seeding, an exciting match in U14 Division 2 between the top seeded Crystal Lake Lions and the fourth-seeded Palatine Pioneers / North Shore Rhinos ended in a  27-25 upset by the underdogs.  Also, in the same division, the third seed West Suburban Barbarians / Friars Junior overwhelmed the second seed Arlington Stallions 43-12 to set up a 3 vs 4 final. In the end the Barbarians/Friars won U14 Division 2 with an exciting 24-19 victory over the Pioneer/Rhinos.  The Lions beat the Stallions 31-15 to take third.

The script played out in U12 Division 1 as one might have predicted based on seeding, with the semifinal matches shutouts in favor of the top seeds, the Glen Ellyn Stingers 24-0 winners over the Chiefs from Fox Valley and the Northwest Narwhals 33-0 winners over the Crystal Lake Lions.  The Stingers went on to win the championship by topping the Narwhals 26-0. The third place match was another close one, this time played to a 15-15 tie between the Chiefs and Lions, with not enough time to resolve the draw on kicks.

The U12 Division 2 semifinals were won as expected by the higher seeds, with the West Suburban Barbarians dominating their match 69-0 over the Friars and the South Suburban Cobras winning comfortably 36-12 over the Arlington Stallions / KIPP Ascend Mountain Lions.  The Barbarians turned in another dominating performance in the final, defeating the Cobras 50-7 for the championship. The third place match, on the other hand, was a very close result, with the Stallions/Mt. Lions beating the Friars 15-14.

HIGH SCHOOL

Not to be outdone, the high school championships followed on Monday, May 30, and the level of competition was thrilling.  Teams from five boys divisions and two girls divisions wrapped up two weeks of playoffs with exciting final matches.

 New Trier winger, Pierce Hourihane, going over in the corner for the game tying try

The climactic match of the day was the championship final in Boys High School Division 1 . The fourth seed New Trier Trevians, coming off an exciting semifinal upset, faced the second seed Neuqua Valley Wildcats, and what a match is was. Trading leads throughout the match, the Trevians came out on top at the final whistle, beating the Wildcats 26-24.  In the third place match, the sixth seed Morton Mustangs upset the top seeded Mount Carmel Caravan with a strong performance, 26-10.

The Girls Division 1 final, featuring two teams that stood head and shoulders about the rest all season, was a rematch between the top seeded Rowe-Clark Masai Lions and the Plainfield Thundercats.   Only two weeks after the Lions edged out the 'Cats 17-15 in the regular season, the teams turned in another classic match, this time seeing the Thundercats come out on top 24-22 to win their fourth consecutive state championship. In another exciting contest, the third place match saw the Sycamore Spartans avenge a regular season loss to the Chillicothe Cailíní, pulling ahead late in the match for a 56-34 victory.

In Boys Division 2 the title match was a thriller between the fifth seed Glen Ellyn Ducks and the third seed Montini Catholic Broncos. Trading leads all match, the Ducks squeaked by with a 20-19 victory to claim their first-ever state championship. The third place match saw the top seed Lake Forest Harriers top the second seed Sycamore Spartans 48-10. 

The Girls Division 2 match of the day was the final between the Palatine Juggernauts / Chicago Wapiti and the Taft Eagles to wrap up the day. The Juggernauts/Wapiti came out on top, claiming the D2 title with a 26-10 victory.

The day began with the Boys Division 3 title match between the Hindsale Central Red Devils and the Springfield Junior Celts. The Red Devils capped off a perfect debut season with a resounding 55-7 defeat of the Jr. Celts from the state capital.  In the Division 3 third place match, the Blaze Rugby Academy, last year's D3 runner-up, had a strong showing with a 47-5 victory over the Golder College Prep Jaguars to bring home the Plate.  Also, the Marist Red Hawks and All Reds from Woodford County battled to a 36-24 Red Hawks victory to claim the Bowl for 5th place.

The championship match in Boys Junior Varsity was between the Morton Mustangs and Neuqua Valley Wildcats, with the Mustangs bringing home the trophy after a 37-17 victory. The Boys Fresh/Soph title went to the West Suburban Bulls, thanks to a 56-41 showing against the Neuqua Wildcats.

Overall, the quality of competition was a testament to the hard work of the players, coaches, and parents involved in growing the game of youth rugby across Illinois. Some of the players will move on to the select side season, playing for the Tornados, Hurricanes, or Squalls at the Midwest Challenge Cup and other competitions. Other players will set their sights on the Olympic Rugby (Sevens) series this summer, including the Rugby Illinois Sevens championships on July 9 in Arlington. All of these players have bright futures in rugby and in life, and we are glad to have been a part this spring.