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On Saturday at the Miramar Regional Park in Miami, Fla., Miami RFC were the run away winners of the Fiji 7s, the first qualifier in the Florida Rugby Union of the South Conference. Miami dominated the field scoring 171 points in four games and only giving up two tries all day. In the cup final, Miami earned the cup with a 57-5 win over Naples.
“We’ve been pretty dominant so far,” Miami 7s coach Ronnie Suarez said. “Naples has been our biggest rivalry and they are pretty strong. They like to play more of a contact game, so we knew as long as we didn’t get stuck playing the contact and played a speed game, we would hold up and win the tournament. The teams that we played throughout the day were extremely physical and we just tried for them to match our speed game and none of the teams could do it.”
The tournament was named in honor of Phillippe "Fiji" Leka, who unfortunately passed away six years ago. Miami conducts this tournament as a memorial with all proceeds going to his family.
Miami came into Saturday’s qualifier on a hot streak winning two of the last three Florida tournaments and ranked #1 in the state. The only loss of the summer had been against Naples in the previous championship, but Miami got its revenge Saturday.
Fourteen teams were split into four pools with Miami 1, the Okapi Wanderers, and the Palm Beach Panthers in Pool A; the Naples Hammerheads, the Boca Raton Buccaneers, and the Brevard Old Red Eye in Pool B; Daytona Beach (Rolls Royce), the Gainesville Hogs, University of Central Florida, and Miami 2 in Pool C; and Orlando, Florida Atlantic University, Miami 3, and the Bay Area Barracudas in Pool D.
Miami 1, Naples, Miami 2, and Orlando each emerged unscathed in pool play and matched up in the cup semifinals. Advancing to the final, Miami 1 blanked Orlando, 31-0, and Naples stomped Miami 2, 26-5.
In a championship rematch from earlier this summer, Miami shellacked Naples, 57-5, take home the title of its own tournament. Will Moreno led the way with three tries and Jose Laphitzando (2), Cagney Kobrin, Cristian Alsonso, Chris Nelson, and Damien Clemente each scored. Laphitzando connected on five conversions and Clemente added one more.
“We planned to come out strong and set the pace early,” Suarez stated. “It was right off the kickoff that we scored our first try. It was all about maintaining pace and possession and keeping ball away from Naples. Once we got the ball rolling, it was pretty simple after that. When they had the ball, we were aggressive on defense and pressured them into situations they were uncomfortable with.”
In the Women’s Qualifier, Orlando won the cup over Ft. Miami by shutting out the opposition, 46-0. In the four team bracket, Orlando outscored its opponents 137-19 en route to the title.
The Florida Summer 7s Series continues next weekend with the Todd Miller 7s in Clermont.