The BA Baracus RFC’s glorious return to the bay area summer sevens scene began with great fanfare on Saturday. The Baracustani Liberation fighters capped off 4 weeks of well-attended touch sessions and practiceswith an organizational coup, arriving pre-registered and nearly on time with 12+ bodies ready to run for the first pool match around 9:30 am. There was a slight sense of disappointment in the air when the news leaked that crack center and tubing analyst Gregory Mohrmon had been waylayed by professional responsibilities and would not be joining the squad. After shedding a few tears, BAs collected themselves and took the field against a very fit, well-coached, and experienced Golden Gate II side.
Immediately off the kick BA put together several phases and manages to find space outside. The ball found it’s way to a streaking Royal w/Cheese in support who shed 2 tacklers in the last 10 meters to score in the corner under pressure. Conversion missed, 5-0 BA very early on. GG II quickly responded with a corner try of their own, also missing the conversion 5-5 still in the first half. After another couple of hard fought minutes in which BA started to get their 7s legs under them, GG II managed another try, this time under the posts and scored 12-5 GG II. BA responded with a similar Royal T Gentry try in the far corner and it was 12-10 GG II at half. In the second half GG managed to open up the game, expose some of BA’s 7s inexperience, and create a number of overloads, ultimately scoring 4 tries 2 conversions with a final score of 31-10. Though disappointed, BA had a lot to build on, particularly once scrums and lineouts were sorted out.
After a long and hot 2 hour wait, BA took the field for the second time this time against Cal Poly / SLO which featured a familiar face in Nick LaRosa. This time BA came out focused, many players with a full 14 minutes of career sevens experience under their belts, and put together a beautiful series of breaks and support, capped off by a knock-on in the tackle just in front of the try zone by yours truly as I attempted to offload. Fortunately, BA’s overpowering forwardless scrum won the opposition put-in and a cagey vet Sam K put the ball down as it squirted into the try zone. Made SK conversion and it was BA 7-0. Shortly thereafter, SLO put together a nice series of passes, used their significant heft advantage, and broke through a gap in the middle, made conversion 7-7. SLO scored again quickly but just before the halftime whistle a deceptively rapid Charles Barkley look-a-like broke through the line and without much support turned on the gas to score between the posts. In the process of touching down the try, Paul managed to draw a high / dangerous tackle penalty, which, unbeknownst to the vast majority of BAs, resulted in a sin bin for the SLO player. The half ended with a score of 3 tries to 2 and when we retook the field, no one, except for a hoarse-voiced Spencer, noticed that SLO put out 7 players instead of the short-handed 6 they should have had. A confusing series ensued as Spencer tried to gain the attention of several BAs screaming that SLO HAD SEVEN MEN ON THE FIELD to which Sam and myself repeatedly replied DUH THAT’S SEVENS SO STOP DOING SO MANY DRUGS SPENCE and returned to the game. Alas, our lonely soothsayer gave up trying to explain the situation and the sir was, as usual, completely oblivious. The half proceeded without much offense, but a lot of solid BA defense and tackling as the larger SLO players repeatedly took us on in contact. As the clock wound down BA repeatedly poached the other team’s ball in the tackle and looked poised to tie or take the lead with one big break. However, several untimely knock-ons and forward passes gave the ball back to SLO. Finally, with an extra man they never should have had, SLO managed to find a break and took a 4 tries to 2 lead. Roughly 22-12 SLO final. Though we played much better, it was a disappointing result as we were on the cusp of a good win and should have had a 7-6 man advantage in the second half. The fact Nick did not score against us provided limited consolation.
After another lengthy wait, BA took on the A-side of Diablo Gaels. This time we were without another of our dynamic Santa Clara alums, Sean Falvey, who had suffered an injury in the SLO game. A gracious Nick L made up for his previous treachery by donning the gold and maroon. Another solid and fit side of mostly 15s players, the Gaels struck first but BA kept the game close. Our best offensive and defensive effort found us down 3 tries to 1 early in the second half but managed to fight back on 2 long tries by Royal (I wasn’t even on the sevens email list) Gentry. Late in the game BA had clawed back to 19-17 and just could not quite find the space to break through. In a game we should have probably won, BAs took away a lot of good things and the remainder of the summer looks bright.
Special thanks to Coach Sam for his leadership and Navy for his foresight in bringing a tent / cooler combo that saved us from several ER trips for heat exhaustion.