There were elite players all over Salt Lake City, but these seven boys were the best when their teams needed it most. Imagine if these guys suited up in the same jersey.
Will Chevalier - EIRA U18
Teammates call him “Chevy,” and for good reason, as Chevy towed his team to third place with his playmaking ability in the U18 Elite division. EIRA's roster had game-breaking athletes from top to bottom and Chevalier was their point guard. When Chevalier had the ball in hand he moved with a smooth swagger.
When a ball carrier fidgets under pressure defenders feed off the body language and attack. It was Chevalier’s poise that forced defenders to stay conservative often giving an extra second for a step or support runner.
Many teams struggled in their conversion kicks but not No. 7; with little time left in the quarter-final Chevalier slotted a conversion from the sideline to tie a match EIRA would go on to win.
Jordan Ng - Upright Rogues U18
The most clutch player in the tournament.
The man with no vowels in his last name scored two tries back-to-back to advance the Rogues to the cup final. Ng was carried off the field as he suffered an injury in the semifinal. Then in the Cup final he came in with his leg strapped up only to score an 80 meter try with time expiring to win the Cup. Again Ng was carried off the field a hero.
Josiah Morra - Misfits U20
Mora is on the Canadian national team circuit and certainly the biggest name player at the NAI 7s, but he deserves credit for being the bounce-back player of the tournament. On day one the Misfits had to play the eventual third-place team, and their Canadian rival, the Upright Rogues. Mora received a yellow card in a close match for an iffy delay of game call. The yellow card would cost his team a try and the match.
From that point on the Misfits would have to go undefeated, beat the undefeated EIRA team, and put up 60-plus points if they hoped to play in the cup final. Mora led the way and the Misfits went on to beat EIRA twice to win the cup final.
Tomas Gallo - Upright Rogues U20
Gallo wasn’t the flashiest player, but he applied pressure better than any other player in the tournament. On attack, his running lines and strength frequently forced two defenders to bring him down. In sevens, the ability to draw multiple defenders spreads a defense thin. Gallo knew just how to exploit the defense which gave his teammates more space.
On defense Gallo also put smothering pressure on opposing scrumhalves at the scrum. If he wasn’t stealing loose ball he was forcing poor passes which allowed the Rogues’ back line time to come up in defense.
Gallo will bring his vision to the London Scottish RFC.
Cyrille Cama - Rhinos Rugby U18
Cama competed in the Great Northwest Challenge RCT; that was 15s and he still stood out with his hard running lines. But this weekend at the NAI 7s, Cama looked like a superhero.
In the lime green Rhino jerseys, Cama looked like the Hulk. But from the conversion kick he was Deadshot. In the cup final, Cama put up a conversion kick from the sideline and jogged back to midfield while the kick went perfectly through the uprights. He has the build of an athletic No. 8, but could also play in the centers for any college team. Cama had a summer to remember and should be at the top of any collegiate recruiters’ shortlists.
Papi Young - USA South Panthers U14
There are a few things we have to acknowledge about this young phenom off the bat.
First, he goes by Papi . . .
Second, this kid Papi Young is only 14 and at this very moment wouldn’t be able to match up physically at the U18/U20 elite level. But, he makes the dream team list because he has the most upside of any player on this list. Young led his team with 10 tries on the weekend including the last one.
Most kids at 14 lack focus and mental discipline, but Young showcased poise under extreme pressure beyond his years.
The Panthers were pitted against the U14 competition favorite, the Barbarians of Canada, in the Cup Final. Down 7-5 the Barbarians made a break that looked like the dagger in the Panthers' hearts. But the hustling defense from Papi Young forced a knock-on to give the Panthers one last scrum.
As the Panther players walked back to the scrum inside their own 22-meter line they were mocked by the scoreboard, flashing 0:00. Set out wide on the wing was Young and the Panthers knew who they were going to give it to. Young burned past one man and was grabbed by a trailing defender near the sideline. If he ran out of bounds the game would be over, but Young pirouetted out of the tackle and looked for support. No Panthers were near him, but that quick look for help was just enough of a decoy to give Young an extra step of space. The speedy wing backed himself and burned for the try. The ref blew the whistle for full time and Young was dogpiled by his teammates.
Gabe Massey - Atlantis U18
Massey was selected to Atlantis’ second side but he didn’t let that affect his play. On day two, Atlantis’ first side was 3-0 and Atlantis’ second side was 0-3. The two teams were slotted to go against each other in the quarterfinals. Massey was all over the field on defense and when the team needed it most he fought off two opposing counter-ruckers by himself and then followed the play in support to put a no-look offload to swing the momentum of the match. Massey’s Atlantis “second side” went on to beat their first side and advance to the semi-final.
Massey will begin his collegiate rugby at LSU next year. The D1A is getting another versatile back three player and a potential future All-American.
Did we miss someone? Yes, we probably did, including:
Treyvion McCarty, Rocky Mountain Rebels U14s
Jeremiah Munoz, Rhino Rugby U20s
Koryan Harris, Stars Rugby 7s U20s
Matt Klimchuk, Upright Rugby Rogues U18s
Mike Weir, Atlantis Teal U18s
Alex Davies, Barbarians U18s