COLUMBUS, Ohio, June 6 /PRNewswire/ -- The University of Utah defeated rugby powerhouse California 31-26 in overtime to win the first-ever USA 7's Rugby Collegiate Championship Invitational, which featured the top 16 teams in collegiate 7's rugby. The Utes and Golden Bears met in the finals of the three-day, 38 match event held at Columbus Crew Stadium. The USA 7's Rugby Collegiate Invitational was broadcast on NBC and Universal Sports on Saturday and Sunday.
"This was an historic weekend for introducing USA 7's Rugby to a national audience," said Dan Lyle, tournament director, USA 7's. "We want to congratulate the Utah Utes and all the hard-working teams that competed in the tournament. We are thrilled at the success of this event and thankful for world-class partners led by NBC for helping raise the profile of USA 7's Rugby through the 2016 Olympics and beyond."
"We are honored to broadcast college Rugby 7's on network television for the first time in history," said Jon Miller, executive vice president, NBC Sports. "Rugby 7's is a fast-paced sport that is tailor-made for TV. We are excited to share Rugby 7's with a new audience and help the sport grow in the US."
Saving the best for last, the championship game was the most exciting of the tournament. Cal was trailing 26-21 when junior Connor Ring touched down for a try with no time remaining. Keegan Engelbrecht missed the conversion to send the game into sudden death overtime.
In overtime, Utah freshman Don Pati scored the winning try to claim victory over a Cal team that just last month won its 25th out of a possible 31 Rugby 15's National Championship.
Utah's run through the tournament saw them turn in victories over Penn State, Ohio State, Bowling Green, Navy and San Diego State. Entering the final match, Cal had outscored its opponents 157-7.
"We came into the tournament really believing in ourselves and confident that we could win the whole thing," said Utah freshman Don Pati, who scored the winning try in sudden death overtime to give the Utes at 31-26 win. "When I broke the line for that try, it was an indescribable feeling."
"The game was all about us sticking to our system and letting our athletes go out and play rugby," said Utah head coach Jason Pye. "Obviously, we have some very good rugby players."
The USA 7's Rugby Collegiate Championship Invitational featured 16 Division I collegiate traditional powers, including the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, Army, Bowling Green, University of California at Berkeley, Dartmouth, University of Florida, Harvard, Indiana University, Navy, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, San Diego State, University of Tennessee, and the University of Utah.
Sponsors for the USA 7's Rugby Collegiate Championship Invitational, included Subway, Geico, Bud Light and Toyota.
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SOURCE USA 7