LAFAYETTE, Colo. – Six more teams have qualified for the Aug. 12-13 USA Rugby Emirates Airline Club 7s National Championship following an important weekend of qualifying events held across the country. The total number of teams booked for the 2017 Club 7s National Championship in Minneapolis, Minn., is up to nine with the previous qualifications of American Rugby Pro Training Center, the Austin Valkyries, and Rugby Utah.
The four representatives from the Atlantic North were determined as Bulldog Rugby and Old Blue rose above a very difficult regional competition to qualify for Nationals on the men’s side, while Beantown and New York Rugby emerged from the women’s sevens series.
Mystic River appeared well on its way to a third consecutive appearance at the Club 7s National Championship after taking first place at Newport 7s in June. However, Bulldog Rugby won the Atlantic North tournament last week in New York to put itself in a more favorable position to qualify heading into the Saturday, July 15, Saratoga 7s.
Old Blue of New York sealed the region’s No. 1 seed to Nationals with a 21-5 win over rival New York Athletic Club, and would eventually win the tournament outright, but a Semifinal between the Bulldogs and Mystic would determine which side would take Atlantic North’s No. 2 seed and which team’s summer of sevens would come to an end. After 14 minutes, the 2016 National Championship winner in 15s, Mystic River, was a conversion short of its opposition from Connecticut, sending the Bulldogs to their first-ever Club 7s National Championship.
The women of New York Rugby Club continued their sensational form in Saratoga, which acted as a regional championship between teams from Atlantic North’s Empire and New England Divisions. After going a perfect 3-0 in the Empire series, New York won its fourth and final tournament to earn the region’s No. 1 seed at Nationals. Beantown, which placed second at Saratoga behind the 2016 Women’s Premier League Red Conference Champion, punched its own ticket to Minneapolis by toppling Old Blue in the Semifinals, 12-7.
The Midwest 7s Championship in Cincinnati will not be played until Saturday, July 29, but the women of the Chicago Lions have already officially qualified for Nationals. A tournament victory at Legacy 7s continued the Lions’ dominance in the region this summer and earned the team a trip to the Club 7s Championship thanks to a law – the ‘Golden Ticket’ – in the region’s sevens handbook. The Golden Ticket automatically qualifies a Midwest club for Nationals ahead of the championship event if said club “finishes in first place in each of the respective qualifying tournaments,” according to the Midwest 7s Qualifier Handbook.
The regional championship event out of the Midwest will now determine which two men’s teams will advance to Nationals, and the women’s team to take the No. 2 seed out of the region. Heading into the July 29 event, the Chicago Lions and Metropolis appear to be the frontrunners in the men’s competition, while 1823 Rugby and the Chicago Griffins will likely be favorites to grab ahold of the second bid for the women.
The San Diego Surfers were the sixth women’s team to qualify for Nationals. After winning Beach City 7s to open the summer, the 2016 WPL Champions bested Santa Barbara Academy in the Final of Sunsplash 7s to stake claim to the Pacific South’s top seed to the Club 7s National Championship. The win in Long Beach, Calif., solidifies the Surfers’ seventh straight appearance at Nationals, where the squad, which has never missed out on the Cup Quarterfinals, will attempt to reach its first Cup Final since winning the National Championship in 2014.
Belmont Shore further increased its stranglehold of the men’s Pacific South competition by winning its bracket at Sunsplash 7s, but will not officially qualify for Nationals until after next weekend’s Santa Monica 7s.
The Aug. 12-13 USA Rugby Emirates Airline Club 7s National Championship will be competed at the National Sports Center just outside of Minneapolis. Every match at the 2017 Club 7s National Championship will air live on The Rugby Channel.