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Rugby Season Heats Up in Tampa

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Rugby Season Heats Up in Tampa
 
During the weekend of January 11-13, Tampa held its 21st Annual Coloplast International Wheelchair Rugby Tournament. Competition was fierce as some of the best teams in the U.S. faced off against experienced international competitors. International teams came from Switzerland, Ontario, and Germany while U.S. teams hailed from Denver, Birmingham, Atlanta, and the tournament host, Tampa Generals.
 
Teams arrived on Thursday and were greeted by near record high 80 degree temperatures. After getting settled in and spending the evening enjoying Tampa’s nightlife, teams were eager to hit the court early Friday morning. The tournament started off with the hometown Tampa Generals cruising to an 8-point victory over the Lakeshore Demolition. The next group of games featured the Rebels (from Germany) easily beating the short-handed Denver Harlequins and the London (Ontario) Annihilators, led by Paralympian Mike Whitehead, upsetting the #2 seeded, Shepherd Smash. As the crowd began to show for the afternoon games, the Generals would not disappoint. Facing the #1 seeded national team from Switzerland, the Generals came out of the gate strong and quickly built a 2 goal lead. Switzerland fought hard and managed to force the Generals into double overtime. In the end, the Generals along with their speedy Finnish import and tournament MVP Leevi Ylonen proved to be too much as the Generals won 47-46.
 
Saturday morning saw Team Force, which was a team assembled from players around the U.S., give the Generals their first loss of the weekend. The remainder of the day’s games went as expected with the top teams all winning their games. The game of the day was the Shepherd Smash (from Atlanta) vs. Lakeshore Demolition. Shepherd was being led by the veteran play of Rob Deller and Scott Stokes while Lakeshore received a boost from the return of Paralympian, Brian Kirkland. The game was close throughout with Shepherd holding on to win the game 51-50. With the crossover games complete, Tampa would play Team Force for 3rd place and the Rebels would face London in the championship.
 
Sunday’s games began with Switzerland easily defeating Shepherd for 5th place and Lakeshore cruising past Denver in the 7th/8th place game. After Tampa’s previous 12-point loss to the Force, the Generals were looking for a better showing this time around. The Generals, with a huge crowd behind them, came ready to battle. The game was close throughout with neither team pulling ahead by more than a goal or 2. It ultimately took double overtime before Tampa finally could claim a 55-54 victory over Team Force to finish in 3rd place. The championship game also proved to be a close matchup. The experienced and well-balanced Rebels would have their toughest game of the tournament versus the London squad which contained a blend of veterans and developing players. This was another game where neither team could pull away. In the end, it was the Rebels who won 48-46 and would be crowned the tournament champions.
 
A special thanks to the tournament sponsors: Coloplast, Tampa General Hospital, Paralympic Sport Tampa Bay, Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation, and Conservation Department, and Casper’s Company. Lastly, the tournament host would like to thank all of the volunteers that made this tournament possible.
 
For complete results, visit http://www.quadrugby.com/node/2038/s
 
 
 
January 29, 2013 — 10:20am