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South Valley Journal

Herriman wins fall sevens championship

Dec 06, 2016 02:51PM ● By Greg James

The Herriman Gold team captured the fall state championship. (Shelli Simmons/Herriman Rugby)

By Greg James | [email protected]

The fall rugby season is a different game than what is played in the spring. Herriman had a massive turnout for the fall sevens season and brought home two titles.

“The fall is a secondary season for us,” said Herriman rugby director Jeff Wilson. “Many of our spring players play football, which we support. The fall gives us a chance to develop players. Our fall players generally do not play another sport, so we give them a chance to learn and get better. We had 64 players come out to play this fall. We divided them into five teams: two varsity and three junior varsity. We always had good competition to practice against. We could also move players around depending on our needs and performance.”

Half of the players this fall had never played.

“With so many first-timers, they got the chance to understand the game before spring season begins. Our existing players got even better,” Wilson said.

Herriman graduate Zach Thorum has taken over as rugby head coach. He oversees the club’s day-to-day practice and organization. Rugby is not a Utah High School Activities Association-sanctioned sport. Teams are organized as clubs. Herriman operates as a single school club—all of its players attend Herriman High School. Other clubs are multi school clubs.

Fall rugby is divided into four legs. Herriman Gold won three of the four legs to capture the overall series title. The Herriman Red team placed fourth overall in the varsity division. Gold’s only loss came in its final game to second place United 19-17. United is a multi-school team from Alpine.

“The rugby competition in Utah is incredible,” Wilson said. “United has won several national titles; Snow Canyon in southern Utah is generally a top team in the state, and Kal Toa from the Layton area is another team that is very good. Utah rugby teams and northern California teams are generally the most competitive in the country.” 

Junior Taysan Hammer and captain Zach Barker became leaders of the fall team. Barker has played with the Utah Cannibals, an all-star team. Wilson labels him as an “all-passionate” type of guy. 

“Taysan scored so much we lost count,” Wilson said. “We knew he had potential. I think I would fake an injury if he was coming at me. Zach always gives 100 percent and is a dynamic leader.” 

Hammer spear-headed a fierce comeback in the finals loss to United. He streaked down the sidelines after drawing several defenders and found Barker for a try, but with less that 20 seconds left time ran out on the Mustangs.

The rugby sevens game is full of speed. With fewer players on the pitch, scoring is generally more frequent. The 15’s game in the spring is a longer game with 35-minute halves as opposed to seven minutes in the fall game. 

“The games are shorter, yet you come away exhausted because there is so much sprinting,” Wilson said.

The Herriman Navy team won the junior varsity division series. Herriman Black and White finished tied for third.

“We have such a great community and get so much support from the Herriman administration and students,” Wilson said. “Sometimes at away games we have more fans than the home team. Our players are the best recruiters. They always tell their friends how much fun they are having.”