Two wheelchair rugby players reach out and give a hand shake.

The Phoenix Heat competed in their fourth tournament of the season on the first weekend of February at SpoFit. The team came in looking to revenge earlier losses in the season to both Minnesota and rival Tucson. The tournament featured six of the top teams from North America coming to look for rugby glory and what has been known as one of the most competitive tournaments in the country. Thursday afternoon Phoenix squared off with a Seattle team with many new players coming up quickly looking to make a name for themselves. The two teams battled back and forth for a bit, but the experienced Heat were able to pull away quickly. The team was able to get some of its younger and newer players in to gain some valuable experience working alongside the veterans. The final score had the Heat winning 58 to 48.

The second game of the evening for the home team featured the rival team from down south, the Tucson Renegades. Looking to get a win, the Heat came out strong. Every player remembered a few weeks back when the Renegades were able to beat Phoenix by one point down in Tucson. The battle was hard fought, a tight game all the way through. In the end the conditioning of Phoenix paid off as they were able to squeak by 47 to 45.

Friday morning’s game featured Phoenix against the strong Minnesota Steelheads. Minnesota jumped out to an early lead catching the heat by surprise. The entire game was a battle trying to regain lost ground for Phoenix. The stellar defense of 3.0 Jim Roberts and Ernie Chun proved to be very valuable, helping Phoenix climb out of its hole. With just over a minute left, and Minnesota leading by 3, a Steelhead player hit Chun from behind, leading to a penalty. The Heat use this opportunity to gain three quick goals to tie the game up and send it into overtime. Again the conditioning of Phoenix proved it’s worth as the Heat were able to hold off Minnesota in extra time with a 1 point win. With Phoenix still riding the emotional high of the afternoon game, they were able to swarm and jump on top of the team from London, Ontario quickly in the night game. Much like in the Seattle game, many of the new players were able to get in and gain experience playing with the veterans. Final score was Heat 57, London 48.

The final day brought a rematch in the championship with rival Tucson. Before that, however, Phoenix took on St. Louis. It was a good opportunity to mentally prepare for the afternoon game as well as get good playing time for some of the newer players. Phoenix immediately jumped out to a strong lead, quickly subbing players in an out throughout the rest of the game . Phoenix used the entire bench in defeating St Louis 48 to 30. The Heat had about an hour and a half to prepare for the championship against tucson. The team’s locker room was focused, with music blaring to pump up the players. When the game begin the crowd in the stands cheered loudly for the home team. From the get go, the Heat dominated. They caught the physically and perhaps mentally tired Tucson boys by surprise, jumping to an early lead and never looking back. Strong play forced time outs and turnovers. Phoenix never let up, bringing back the championship trophy as well as the number one seed in the country by defeating the Renegades 56 to 47.

A big thanks goes out to everyone who showed up for this year’s Rugby Rave and this year’s sponsor, The Ability Center in Phoenix.

Story by Nick Springer


1st Place-SpoFit Heat

2nd Place- Tucson Renegades

3rd Place- Minnesota Steelheads

4th place- London Annihilators

5th place- St. Louis Rugby Rams

6th place- Seattle Slam

Congrats to the following players on their individual achievements of best in class:

Class .5 – Ken Walsh from Minnesota

Class 1.0 – Jeremy Brown from Minnesota

Class 1.5 – Ryan Engelby from Minnesota

Class 2.0 – Eddie Brosnan from Minnesota

Class 2.5 – Josh Wheeler from Tucson Renegades

Class 3.0 – Jim Roberts from SpoFit Heat

Class 3.5 – Chuck Aoki from Minnesota

MVP – Daisuke Ikezaki from Seattle

Game scores:

  1. Minnesota-58   London- 54
  2. Tucson-56  St. Louis-41
  3. Heat-58  Slam-48
  4. London-46  St. Louis-42
  5. Minnesota- 57  Seattle- 51
  6. Heat-47  Tucson-45
  7. Louis-50  Seattle-56
  8. Tucson-46  London-45
  9. Heat-51  Minnesota-50
  10. Minnesota-48  St. Louis-49
  11. Tucson-61  Seattle-51
  12. Heat- 57  London-48
  13. London-61  Seattle-59
  14. Tucson-53  Minnesota-51
  15. Heat-48  St. Louis-30
  16. Louis- 64  Seattle- 56
  17. Minnesota- 54  London- 52
  18. Heat-56  Tucson- 47