Right off of a stellar performance in Birmingham in June’s Alabama State Games, where they took silver, Battleship Men’s took home the top place in the Hammond 7′s tournament in southeast Louisiana this past weekend. Hammond Daily Star ran the following article:
Battleship tops LSU in Hammond rugby tourney, Monday, August 22, 2011 8:10 PM CDT
More than 180 players participated in the 5th annual Hammond Hot August 7s Rugby Tournament at Fagan Fields in Hammond Saturday.
The annual event sponsored by the Tangipahoa Parish Tourist Commission, Downtown Development District and the Deep South Rugby Referee Society attracted a crowd of more than 500 during a full day of rugby action.
The action began as the Hammond Black Lions took the field against Baton Rouge in a hotly contested match that ended in Baton Rouge’s favor. In the second match, ultimate tournament champion Battleship from Mobile (Ala.) knocked off reigning champion Louisiana-Lafayette 28-24 by scoring the final “try” with no time remaining on the clock. Denham Springs fell to Loyola 7-0 in what proved to be one of the most dramatic defensive efforts of the day.
Four teams advanced to the championship bracket that concluded the day’s play. In the first championship match, Battleship defeated Mandeville 21-19. LSU advanced to the championship match in the second bracket by defeating Mississippi State 5-12. The tension was thick as LSU and Battleship clashed for the tournament championship that resulted in a Battleship victory 22-19.
Twelve teams from across the Gulf South participated this year in what is expected to emerge as one of the largest rugby tournaments in the region said tournament organizers from the Hammond Area Rugby Federation (HARF). Tournament chairman Sam Hyde noted that space limitations forced HARF to cap the number of teams that could participate this year.
“The city of Hammond generously allowed us use of the Fagan Fields but after surveying their condition we realized that we could only safely use one field and thus we had to tell many teams that tried to register late that we could not accommodate them this year,” Hyde said.
A crack team of referees supplied by the Deep South Rugby Society under the direction of chief referee Steve Parrill kept the tight tournament schedule on time and free of problems. A pub crawl organized by HARF committee member Jason Mapp, brought the participants and families to downtown Hammond following the tournament for a night of food and fun.
During the 1970s and ‘80s, Hammond was home to the largest rugby tournament in North America. More than 80 teams from around the world participated in the annual Mardis Gras tournament which was held on the grounds of the Hammond Airport. A shortage of hotel space and other accommodations led to the demise of the Mardis Gras tournament. The Hot August 7s tournament represents an effort to bring large scale international rugby back to a new Hammond replete with abundant hotel space and restaurants.
“We are determined to see this tournament serve as a catalyst to bring international caliber rugby back to Hammond, the generous support we have received from our sponsors and the community will make it easy to do,” said Hyde.
This Blog is written by Robert Corley, Executive Director of Mobile Area Rugby Foundation.
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