- Written by Frankie Perez
Guam- While the people of Guam were largely focused on the primary election over the weekend, the Guam Men’s Rugby Sevens team travelled to Shanghai to play in the 2010 Shanghai Sevens, the first of two Asian Rugby Sevens Series ranking tournaments. They return to Guam ranked the Sixth best Rugby Sevens team in Asia after some exciting and hard tackling performances.
Guam was ranked second in their Pool on points differential after the first day with a 12 – 7 win over India (tries to Stephen Santos and Paul Eustaquio) and despite losses to eventual champions Korea 24 - 0 and Chinese-Taipei 19 – 14 (tries to Chris Sgro and Will Williams).
This ranking saw Guam matched up against host nation China in the Cup round on Day 2. Guam was unable to match the size and skill of the Chinese going down by 31 to 0 and dropping into the Plate competition.
The Plate competition saw Guam repeat victory over India but this time more emphatically 24 to 0 with tries to Earl Pascual, Paul Claros, Rob Leon Guerrero and Paul Eustaquio. This victory booked Guam a place in the Plate Final against Hong Kong.
Hong Kong were knocked out of the Cup round by their nemesis Japan. The Japanese victory continued a grim losing streak for Hong Kong who have lost their last four outings against the Asian powerhouse. The result was a fired up Hong Kong team that ran up the score against Guam to 52 to 5 (try to Stephen Santos) although Guam’s performance was not helped by having to play shorthanded for significant periods of the game while players cooled their heels in the sin
bin for ‘over aggressive’ defense.
Sanctioned by the International Rugby Board and the Asian Rugby Football Union, two Asian Series tournaments serve as the qualifying tournaments for the IRB’s flagship Hong Kong Sevens each year. The top six teams over these two tournaments earn coveted invitations to play in the prestigious Hong Kong Sevens where crowds of 45,000 people watch the tournament. Guam’s sixth placing in this tournament gives them a real opportunity to play in Hong Kong in
March 2011. An equally strong performance at the second tournament in Kota Kinabalu in late October will seal that invitation.
Coach Willie Hetaraka was pleased with how the team developed throughout the tournament with young players Stephen Santos, Anselmo Untalan and Zeb Howser all adapting well to their first International sevens tournament. The team was led up front by veterans Paul Claros and Chris Sgro. The fast Stephen Sablan provided good distribution to allow the dangerous pairing of Randy Mendiola and Paul Eustaquio to cause havoc out wide.
Coach Hetaraka noted that sixth position is the best Guam has achieved in its young history and gives Guam a good launching pad to qualify to play at Hong Kong against the world’s best Rugby Sevens teams in front of a sold out, 45,000 seat Stadium.
Captain Paul Claros was also pleased with the performance of the young players. The absence of the Calvo boys, Vinson and Eddie, allowed Stephen Santos, Anselmo Untalan and Zeb Howser the opportunity to step up and they did not disappoint. Claros is looking forward to taking a confident squad into the Kota Kinabalu tournament and earning that invitation to Hong Kong!
The full team was: Paul Claros (captain), Paul Eustaquio, Randy Mendiola, Steven Sablan, Chris Sgro, Robert Leon Guerrero, Earl Pascual, William Williams, Zebediah Howser, Steven Santos, and Anselmo Untalan. The team was coached by Willie Hetaraka.
Full tournament results:
Pool A: Japan 43 Singapore 0; Malaysia 17 Thailand 7; Japan 22 Malaysia 26;Thailand 26 Singapore 12; Japan 43 Thailand 7; Malaysia 47 Singapore 0.
Pool B: India 14 Chinese Taipei 7; South Korea 24 Guam 0; Korea 35 India 7;Chinese-Taipei 19 Guam 14; Korea 40 Chinese Taipei 7; India 5 Guam 12.
Pool C: Hong Kong 40 Sri Lanka 7; China 26 Philippines 0; Hong Kong 39 Philippines 0;China 21 Sri Lanka 19; Hong Kong 33 China 12; Philippines 14 Sri Lanka 36.
Seedings after Day 1
Pool A 1. Malaysia 2. Japan 3. Thailand 4. Singapore
Pool B 1. Korea 2. Guam 3. India 4. Chinese Taipei
Pool C 1. Hong Kong 2. China 3. Sri Lanka 4. Philippines
Cup Quarterfinals (losers to the Plate)
Malaysia 28 India 0; Korea 21 Sri Lanka 14; Hong Kong 17 Japan 22; Guam 0 China 31
Hong Kong 42 Sri Lanka 12; Guam 24 India 0
Hong Kong 52 Guam 5
South Korea 33 Japan 12; China 19 Malaysia 12
South Korea 38 China 17
FINAL ASIAN RANKINGS:
1. South Korea
5. Hong Kong
7. Sri Lanka
Information from press release.