One of the top rugby tournaments in the entire country will take place right here in St. George this Friday and Saturday as part of the Snow Canyon Invitational. The six-team tournament features five nationally ranked teams with three of them ranked in the top 10.
No. 5 Snow Canyon gets things started as it takes on No. 22 Olympus at 4 p.m. Friday. Admission is free to the public for all 14 matches.
“Everyone is welcome to come out and enjoy some great games,” Snow Canyon co-head coach Michael Puriri said. “We look forward to this event every year, and it’s the first time in our history that we are hosting a team from Hawaii.”
The Kahuku Red Raiders — a national high school powerhouse — make the trip from Honolulu and are currently ranked No. 9 in the country.
“We’re happy to have them come over, but it is a little intimidating,” Snow Canyon senior Joe Servati said. “We’ve faced a number of bigger teams over the years, but when you hear stories about how big some of their guys are, it does make it a little nerve-wracking, to be honest. But when the game starts you just play and don’t even think about that stuff. I can’t wait. It should be a good game.”
“I do go back and watch that game every month,” Puriri said. “What a finish that was, and it’s a game that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. But at the same time, it’s a new year now and all of our attention and focus has turned to a new group of guys. It’s all about them and doing whatever we can to help them get better every single day.”
Despite losing a number of seniors last year, the Warriors return a talented group again.
“About half of the varsity team is back this year, and most of us, including me, have been playing since sixth and seventh grade,” senior Kody Jacobsen said. “Growing in the program and those experiences should really help us out this year, and we’re excited to see what we can do the rest of the season.”
The fifth-ranked Warriors are already off to a good start this year with a good showing at the Storer Classic in January on the campus of UCLA. A week later, No. 9 Snow Canyon beat No. 6 Red Mountain 50-19. Red Mountain is also one of the teams that has been invited to the Snow Canyon Invitational this weekend.
“It’s been a good season so far, and we are really proud of the guys and what they have been able to accomplish,” Snow Canyon co-head coach Jay Day said. “This weekend is another big test for us, and we are excited to see where we stand with the best of them.”
With close to 500 participants this weekend, the biggest test for Coach Day hasn’t been getting the team ready, but assigning hosts for all of the players on top of the big spaghetti dinner Friday night with all of the teams.
“It’s a challenge, but a good challenge to have,” Day said.
“It’s awesome hosting guys from all over and having them come stay at your house,” Jacobsen added. “I don’t know who I’m hosting yet, but it’s always a lot of fun and I look forward to it every year.”
For a complete schedule visit http://www.snowcanyonrugby.com/#!snow-canyon-invitational/ovk2d.