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Rugby puts city in seventh heaven

With the Fourth of July just around the corner, the excitement for summer rugby is already rumbling.

Action leading up to next Friday will start this weekend with the Utah Rugby summer 7’s (seven players per side) Series this weekend at City Park.

Alan Short, president of the Division I Park City Haggis men’s team and head coach of the Park City High School team, has been running the event for four years and has opened the tournament regionally, but is expecting the usual teams from around state. Those who fare well will go on to a championship event, which will be held in the afternoon during the annual July 4 celebration at City Park.

The roster will not include the marquee team from Vail, who cancelled their attendance at the event this week, but Short isn’t fazed by the late change. Instead, he will fill the void with a 10 vs. 10 game made up of members of the Haggis and members of a new recreational Park City Men’s team.

Short has been looking forward to involving the new local team. He said they are a welcome addition alongside the Park City Haggis organization. After the Park City Muckers and the Salt Lake Haggis joined forces two years ago to create a super team of sorts that could play top-level rugby, some of trhe recreational players and alumni fell by the wayside. Now with this new team, Short said that there is once again a social rugby team in Park City.

"We’re sort of partners in crime," Short said. "I’m happy they’re getting involved."

In the past, Park City-only teams have struggled to be sustainable due to declining numbers, so Short hopes that by all of the teams working together, they can offer rugby for all levels and ages in the area.

Even within the Haggis organization, there are many possibilities. With more than 50 guys on the roster, Short tries to enter second teams into events as much as possible, so everyone has a chance to play.

"It makes more work for me, but its good stuff," laughs Short.

Joining Park City squads will be two teams from Salt Lake, and squads from Brigham Young University and the University of Utah.

The winner of the tournament will receive a bid into the Pacific Coast 7’s Playoffs, which will include teams from Northern and Southern California, Wyoming and Oregon. The winners there will go on to represent the West at the National 7’s Championships in Pittsburgh, Penn.

Park City High School will also make an appearance on Saturday. For the first year, Short decided to add a high school division, so that the newly formed prep team could have an opportunity to show off their skills. The young Park City team, which came together this last spring for their inaugural season, will play other high school teams, including Viewmont, Kearns, and Team United from Utah County.

The tournament will run all day Saturday from 9 a.m. until about 3 p.m. All games will be free and open to the public. No concessions will be available, so Short encourages rugby fans to bring a picnic and a chair and enjoy a day at the pitch.

Their will be more rugby all day long on July 4. Food and beverages will be available throughout the day. The schedule for the Fourth includes:

10 a.m. Women’s match featuring a combination of players from Utah State University, the University of Utah and graduates of Utah Valley University.

11:30 a.m. "Old Boys" vs. "New Boys" match featuring players from the Old Muckers team and the some of the players from the new Park City team.

12:30 p.m. Premier match, featuring the Park City Haggis and a combination of players from the University of Utah and the rest of the Park City Haggis team.

2:30 p.m. Park City High School team vs. United’s frehmen/sophomore team.

4:30- 9 p.m. – Sevens championship games


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