Fallbrook Girls Rugby wins So Cal High School Sevens championship

Fallbrook High School's girls rugby club 7's team is seen with the coaches after winning the So Cal High School Sevens championship on Feb. 11.  Paul Bell photo
Fallbrook High School’s girls rugby club 7’s team is seen with the coaches after winning the So Cal High School Sevens championship on Feb. 11. Paul Bell photo

Joe Naiman
Village News Correspondent

Fallbrook High School’s girls rugby club won the So Cal High School Sevens championship.

A 28-0 victory over View Park Preparatory High School of Los Angeles in the Feb. 11 finals made the Warriors undefeated in 18 games in which they outscored opponents by a cumulative 718-19 margin, including a 595-7 scoring advantage in 14 regular-season games.

“We weren’t really challenged a lot during the season,” said Fallbrook co-coach Craig Pinnell.

Although the So Cal High School Sevens season was under the auspices of the Southern California Rugby Football Union, one of the goals of the season is to create the prerequisite for rugby to become a CIF sport.

“It’s getting very close,” said Pinnell.

If a sufficient number of club teams allow for potential CIF play, the CIF section administration can be petitioned to add a sport. The So Cal High School Sevens league was divided into a San Diego Division consisting of San Diego County teams and a Los Angeles Division with teams from Orange County and Los Angeles County. Eight teams participated in the San Diego Division: Fallbrook, La Costa Canyon, Mira Mesa, Mission Vista, Poway, Rancho Bernardo, San Marcos, and Westview.

“It was good to see new teams and high schools participating,” Pinnell said.

The league utilized a CIF format. When the Fallbrook squad begins club season competition March 11, the under-18, under-16, and under-14 designations will be used. The So Cal High School Sevens competition utilized only varsity and junior varsity squads and all players were required to be in high school. Fallbrook’s junior varsity team was undefeated, but as is the case for actual CIF sports, there was no post-season for the JV squad.

View Park Preparatory High School and the Inner City Education Foundation (ICEF) club team utilize common players. The Warriors had between 20 and 25 players apiece on their varsity and junior varsity rosters.

Seven-a-side rugby games are 14 minutes, so teams were able to play multiple games in a day and during the regular season four teams converged on a venue and played a round-robin format. Fallbrook’s season began Jan. 7 at La Costa Canyon High School, where the Warriors defeated Mission Vista by a 57-0 score, Poway by a 51-0 margin, and La Costa Canyon in a 52-0 game.

“We started off pretty well,” said Pinnell. “It was a pretty big score for a sevens game.”

While the Jan. 7 games constituted the start of the actual season, during December the Warriors had exhibition matches against La Costa Canyon, Rancho Bernardo, and View Park Preparatory.

“We had a good buildup,” Pinnell said.

Lilly Durbin is the Warriors’ captain this year, although she also spends time at the Olympic Training Center and will not be present for all of Fallbrook’s matches. Pinnell cited Durbin and Julia Haigh as the standouts for the Jan. 7 games.

Fallbrook hosted the Jan. 14 games, which allowed for exhibition matches with under-14 players as well as junior varsity and varsity games. “Worked out quite well,” said Pinnell.

The varsity matches also worked out quite well for Fallbrook, whose results were a 52-0 victory over Poway, a 36-0 triumph against Rancho Bernardo, and a 31-0 win at the expense of Mira Mesa. Pinnell designated Breil Bonaguro as the day’s standout.

The Jan. 21 competition was also at Fallbrook High School with under-14 competition added to the varsity and junior varsity matches. The varsity Warriors began the day with a 46-0 triumph over Westview. In the second Fallbrook game of the day, La Costa Canyon scored a second-half try, which would turn out to be the only score against Fallbrook during the regular season, but the Mavericks were still on the short end of the 33-7 final score.

The Warriors defeated Mira Mesa by a 55-0 margin to conclude the day.

“We have that bigger squad,” Pinnell said. “Once the game got going we just started putting in players.”

Lily Hernandez was Pinnell’s Jan. 21 standout.

Mira Mesa was unable to travel to San Marcos High School for the Jan. 28 matches, so only three teams participated. Fallbrook defeated Mission Vista by a 38-0 margin and San Marcos by a 37-0 score. Fallbrook vice-captain Destiny Arena was Pinnell’s choice for the day’s standout.

The Westview team selected Dusty Rhodes Park in the Ocean Beach area of San Diego as the site of the Feb. 4 matches. Fallbrook obtained a 24-0 win against Rancho Bernardo, a 29-0 victory in the game with Mission Vista, and a 54-0 triumph over Westview. Haigh was Pinnell’s designated standout.

A points system was used to determine the six teams which advanced to the championship tournament Feb. 11 at Mission Vista High School. Five of those teams were from the San Diego Division and View Park Preparatory fared well enough to be the sole team from the Los Angeles Division.

The teams were divided into pools with Fallbrook, Mira Mesa, and Rancho Bernardo comprising one pool, and View Park Preparatory, Mission Vista, and Westview playing in the other pool.

The Warriors won their pool with a 39-0 victory over Rancho Bernardo and a 22-5 win against Mira Mesa. Mission Vista finished third in the other pool, which gave the Timberwolves a semifinal match against Fallbrook. The Warriors advanced to the final with a 34-7 triumph.

View Park Preparatory won not only its pool but also its semifinal, so the Knights reached the final and played Fallbrook in the championship game. The Warriors scored two tries and two conversions in each half. Kim Mendoza was Fallbrook’s Feb. 11 standout.

Pinnell noted that the So Cal High School Sevens season allowed Fallbrook’s newer players to have game experience. “It was great for that,” he said.

The season also allowed the veterans to work with the younger Warriors.

“They create a really good environment for newer players,” said Pinnell. “It’s really good to have them teaching the younger ones.”

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