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News | Aug. 21, 2022

Army Captures Eighth Rugby Gold

By Mr. Steven Dinote, U.S. Armed Forces Sports Secretariat U.S. Armed Forces Sports

Going undefeated in pool play, Army dominated their way to the Championship match where they defeated Navy 27-7 here at Infinity Park in Glendale, Colorado on August 20.  

Army forced 146 points and allowed only 28 versus the other Service teams on their way to their eighth gold medal since the inception of 7-aside Armed Forces Rugby in 2012.  


In the opening match, Navy faced Air Force on a cool sunny morning.  Air Force jumped up to a 17-0 lead within minutes from the opening kickoff.  Navy managed to score in the final minute before the teams took their halftime break.  

In the second half, Air Force scored immediately in what appeared to seal the deal over the defending champs with a 24-7 lead.

Navy bounced back to score three unanswered tries, with the final try scored by Ensign Lucas Bienstock of Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia.  

Navy would lose only to Army in pool play, which elevated them to the Championship match for the second straight year.  


As the clouds rolled in bringing some rain, Army opened up the championship match with Staff Sgt. Michael Melendez-Rivera of the Utah National Guard scoring instantly at the 1:51 minute mark.  

Sgt. 1st Class Faleniko Spino of Auburn University ROTC, scored back-to-back tries before the end of the first half to elevate Army to a 17-0 halftime lead.

Starting the second half, Capt. Anderson Sullivan of Fort Rucker, Ala. Broke found the gap and darted off to the try-zone scoring at 8:35 into the match.

Sgt. Arturo Reyes of Kaiserslautern, Germany drove in the final score of the match for Army at the 12:14 minute mark. 

In the closing minute of the match, Navy forced a turnover with Petty Officer 2nd Class Wilsoni Vasukilakeba of Naval Base Coronado, Calif. scoring the lone Navy try.  After Lt. Adam D’Amico’s conversion, the final score was 27-7.  

At the conclusion of the championship, the following players were selected for the 2022 Armed Forces All-Tournament Team:

Capt Grant Penny (USMC) - RS Twin Cities, Minn.
SSG Michael Melendez-Rivera (Army) - Utah National Guard
SFC Faleniko Spino (Army) - Auburn University ROTC, Ala.
CPT Anderson Sullivan (Army) - Fort Rucker, ALa.
PO2 Wilsoni Vasukilakeba (Navy) - NB Coronado, Calif.
2d Lt Jordan Savage (USAF) - Los Angeles AFB, CA
PO1 Alexander Vinkavich (USCG) - Training Center Petaluma, CA


In 2012, Armed Forces Sports transitioned from 15-aside rugby to sevens after it was announced that sevens would be included in the Olympic Games.  With Air Force scheduled to host the Armed Forces Championship, then Lt. Col. Gary Helfeldt coordinated with the City of Glendale to use the relatively new Infinity Park Stadium.  

With enthusiasm, Glendale decided to host a tournament that would feature the Armed Forces teams in one pool, followed by five other international military rugby squads.  At the conclusion of each respective pool, the teams would compete against one another in a series of friendly matches.  

The concept was so popular, Glendale started hosting the tournament annually, which has grown into the Rugbytown 7’s Tournament that now includes 20 teams.  

In keeping with the Military tradition, Glendale hosts the Armed Forces Championship match at the conclusion of pool play and honors fallen rugby players with a Remembrance Ceremony at the conclusion of the Armed Forces Championship awards presentation.  

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Rugbytown Tournament, with the Armed Forces Championship held each year in Glendale since 2012.  

Learn more about Armed Forces Rugby and all the other sports offered by visiting