BOULDER, Colo. – The Red River conference converged on Fort Worth for a Saturday of sevens action, and the teams were welcomed to north Texas with rain. With the exception of LSU, the Red River sides took to a muddy pitch for a busy day of rugby, and battled for the Red River Conference 7s title.
The conference held two sevens tournaments for seeding purposes ahead of its conference championship tournaments. After winning the first two Red River sevens events, Texas A&M appeared the favorites.
Throughout the day, three sides stood out and separated themselves from the rest. The Oklahoma Sooners were one of those sides, holding TCU and Texas Tech to zero points in pool play. The Sooners have already played their first conference match of the season, beating Texas Tech, 35-7, in October. They played Texas A&M in the semifinals, but fell to the Aggies, 24-5.
Texas A&M trampled Baylor, 43-0, early in the day, but lost to Texas, 17-12. A&M made a couple mistakes in its match with Texas, and the Longhorns have a knack for scoring off of mistakes. Because of the loss, they had to play the Sooners in the semifinals. These sides were the most physical of the day, and were able to use their physicality to overcome the muddy conditions. The Aggies were able to edge the Sooners, which led them to a rematch with Texas in the Final.
The Longhorns utilized their speed throughout the day, which led them to victories over Baylor, Texas A&M, and Texas Tech. They were able to take the corner with their quickness, which left nothing but mud between the Longhorn ball carriers and the try line. In their match against Texas A&M in the Final, the Aggies were able to reduce the number of mistakes, and the result was a 36-7 win for A&M.
“I think each team was able to find out what kind of talent that they have,” said TCU Head Coach TeShay Flowers. “The key is to keep this momentum heading into the XVs season. I noticed that we have some creative backs in our conference, along with mobile and active forwards.”
The other sides will have some work to do before they start their 15s seasons. Texas Tech was held scoreless against Oklahoma and Texas, but were able to take a victory over TCU. The Red Raiders are trying to improve each week, which they did over the course of the qualifying tournaments leading up to this tournament. The defense played well in all of their matches, but they will need to keep improving on offense.
TCU was not happy with its performance at home. The Horned Frogs were able to slide past Baylor with a 19-17 win, but that came after losses to Oklahoma and Texas Tech.
“TCU was both disappointed and embarrassed by their performance,” said Flowers. “Having performed well in the two seeding tournaments and now playing at home, they had much higher expectations than a fifth-place finish. They proved that they were not ready for primetime. There will have to be a lot of soul searching over the next two weeks as they prepare for their 15s season kickoff against Oklahoma.”
Baylor missed the second qualifying tournament, which hurt the Bears. They weren’t ready for the level of rugby at which the other teams were playing, especially Texas A&M, which scored 43 points against the Bears. They’ll need to get working and fast, or risk falling behind the rest of the conference.
While these sides were running through the mud in Fort Worth, LSU was fine-tuning its 15s against Arkansas. The Tigers, a team that now ranks No. 20 in the Canterbury D1A Top 20, beat Arkansas, 56-10, and look to be a very strong foe in their first year in the Red River Conference.
There will be one more conference match in the fall semester, as Oklahoma hosts TCU Nov. 24. The rest of conference play will begin in late January, which will give teams plenty of time to train for the season.