Members of the Los Angeles Rugby Club U16 team celebrate their Plate Championship at the Southern California youth Rugby 7s Tournament. Pictured are: (kneeling) Justin Johnson (Mira Costa), Harrison Dulgarian (Mira Costa), Jeremiah Leilua (Mira Costa), Aaron Kiefer (Lawndale), (standing) Coach Duke Dulgarian, Jonah Tavai (Mira Costa), Chris Orona (home school), Justus Tavai (Mira Costa), Rudy Sarellano (Lawndale) and Isaiah Leilua (Mira Costa). Photo courtesy of Duke Dulgarian
Led by players from Mira Costa’s championship rugby program, the Los Angeles Rugby Club finished the summer on a high note with its U18 and U16 teams winning the Plate Championships at the Southern California Youth Rugby 7s Tournament.
Coach Paul Breen’s U18 team — led by Harrison Morrow, Brandon Milan, Fernando Nava, Mark Herrera and Juwan Johnson — overcame stiff competition to capture the Plate Championship.
The U16s, led by team captain Justus Tavai, Justin Johnson, Harrison Dulgarian and Jeremiah Leilua, rebounded from a first round loss to San Clemente.
In the second match of the day, the U16s had to play about two-thirds of the game with only six players due to an unfortunate red card. With one minute left and trailing 10 to 14, Harrison Dulgarian fielded a kick in his own Try Zone and faked downing the ball only to draw the Coastal Dragons defense in. He immediately off loaded the ball in which the LARC side made a furious 100 yard attack culminating with a Justus Tavai Try to win the game 15-14.
Rudy Sarellano celebrated his birthday with a huge run in the game to keep the LA side in the match. Following the comeback, the boys from LARC never looked back, defeating a strong Belmont Shores team and then the Aztec Warriors from San Diego by a score of 28-0.
The U-16 entered the tournament fresh off a sweep at the 2014 Santa Monica 7’s Tournament. The team finished with 5-0 record, including wins against the San Diego Aztecs and Long Beach/Belmont Shore before manhandling the host Santa Monica Dolphins 31-5 in the championship match. The squad was led by Justus Tavai, Jonah Tavai and Jaden Rust and Isaiah Leilua.
Members of the Los Angeles Rugby Club U16 team coached by Duke Dulgarian included Justin Johnson (Mira Costa), Harrison Dulgarian (Mira Costa), Jeremiah Leilua (Mira Costa), Aaron Kiefer (Lawndale), Jonah Tavai (Mira Costa), Chris Orona (home school), Justus Tavai (Mira Costa), Rudy Sarellano (Lawndale) and Isaiah Leilua (Mira Costa).