LAFAYETTE, Colo. – The busiest weekend of the summer of qualifying events for the Aug. 12-13 USA Rugby Club Emirates Airline Club 7s National Championship saw certain clubs distance themselves from the pack thanks to first-place finishes Saturday, July 8, while other regional competitions tightened as a number of teams picked up their first tournament victories of the summer.
A trio of teams, meanwhile, became the first of 32 sides to qualify for the 2017 Club 7s National Championship in Minneapolis, Minn. 2015 National Championship winner American Rugby Pro Training Center claimed the Red River’s No. 1 seed to Nationals, and the Austin Valkyries punched their ticket as the region’s second squad. On the men’s front, reigning National Champion Rugby Utah has earned the right to defend its title after winning a second tournament in the Frontier Region.
Atlantic North – Hell Gate 7s and Eric White Memorial 7s
Winners: Bulldog Rugby, New York Rugby, and Beantown Rugby
There have been three different winners in the three men’s qualifying tournaments in the region. This time around, Bulldog Rugby took top prize at Hell Gate 7s. The win puts the club from Connecticut in a second-place tie with Mystic River, and just one standings point behind table topper Old Blue. New York Athletic Club, the only team in the top-four of the competition without a first-place finish at a qualifier, finished in second for the second time this summer. The solid outing keeps NYAC in the running for Nationals as the four aforementioned teams will battle for two spots at Nationals Saturday, July 15, at Saratoga 7s.
New York Rugby continued to fend off Old Blue and the rest of the Atlantic North competition in the women’s Empire Division. The Women’s Premier League side will likely have the top overall seed heading into the July 15 Conference Championship tournament. Despite a winless summer of tournaments up to this point, Old Blue will have an opportunity to redeem itself, but will have a tougher draw at the Conference Championship tournament, where Beantown will represent the New England Division. Beantown will like its odds to claim one of two regional places to Nationals after winning another qualifying event over the weekend in Springfield, Mass., at the Eric White Memorial 7s.
Frontier – Heartland 7s
Winner: Rugby Utah
The reigning Champion in sevens is the first men’s team to begin booking for this year’s National Championship. Rugby Utah, after having won Denver 7s, beat the Kansas City Blues in the Final of Heartland 7s. The win by the National Development Academy eases its burden ahead of the third and final leg of Frontier’s qualifying series, but plenty will still be at stake at the July 22 Nebraska State Games. The Denver Barbarians and Blues are tied for second in the region. Whichever team does better in Lincoln will join Rugby Utah at Nationals.
Mid-Atlantic – Monk Vaughan 7s
Winners: Schuylkill River Exiles and Scion Sirens
The women’s standings in the Mid-Atlantic remain the same following Monk Vaughan 7s. Reigning National Champions Scion Sirens beat Northern Virginia Rugby in the Final again, while Philadelphia Rugby and the D.C. Furies placed third and fourth, respectively, for a second consecutive tournament. Despite the Monk Vaughan results looking identical to the region’s initial qualifier, there is still plenty of time and room for shifting throughout the standings. Two tournaments remain in the Mid-Atlantic for three teams to qualify for Nationals.
After losing to the Beltway Elite two weeks ago, the Schuylkill River Exiles got the better of the region’s all-star squad at the Monk Vaughan event. If the two teams continue to reach the Finals as the region enters the second half of its competition, they will both find themselves at Nationals.
Pacific North – Carlsberg 7s and CanAm 7s
Winners: Atavus Rugby, Berkeley All Blues, Life West Gladiators, and Washington Athletic
Atavus and Washington Athletic continue to prove they are the best of the Pacific Northwest. Neither side is a fixture in club rugby’s championship picture, but both have several Seattle Saracens – which are not competing in sevens this summer – helping to pave the way for the teams.
Coming off of a difficult season in the Women’s Premier League, the Berkeley All Blues showed good form in Northern California’s opening qualifier. The All Blues outplayed Division I 15s Champions Life West Gladiatrix, Division II Finalist San Francisco Golden Gate, and the San Jose Seahawks to win Carlsberg 7s.
Life West may have had to settle for second in the women’s bracket at Carlsberg 7s, but the men’s team raised hardware as the event’s winner. The Gladiators beat the East Palo Alto Razorbacks in the Final to take an early lead in the NorCal standings.
Red River – Space City 7s
Winners: American Rugby Pro Training Center and Austin Huns
A fourth and final Red River tournament remains on the women’s schedule, but American Rugby Pro’s three first-place finishes out of the gates already has the National Development Academy locked into the region’s No. 1 seed at Nationals. Similarly, the Austin Valkyries have placed second in each of the three events, putting them beyond catchable distance of teams like Hawks Rugby and the San Antonio Riveters.
Like the Atlantic North Region, the Red River has seen three different teams take first place over the region’s first three men’s qualifying events. After settling for one second-place and one third-place finish to open the four-tournament series, the 2017 Division I National Champion in 15s was the last team standing at Space City 7s. Not only did the Huns beat out a very competitive field in Houston, but did so in dominant fashion. Wins over Houston Athletic, the Austin Blacks, and two victories over the Dallas Red totaled 117-12 in favor of the Huns.
Midwest – Rock n’ Roll 7s
Winners: Chicago Lions
The Chicago Lions men’s and women’s teams made it two-for-two in Cleveland over the weekend. The club has now won a combined three tournaments this summer with the women’s side also having taken first place at Madtown 7s as it tries to get back to Nationals after missing out on the summer classic last year.
Following a National Quarterfinal appearance in 2016, the men of the Chicago Lions won their first qualifying tournament after settling for second place to open the Midwest series. Both the men and women have one more tournament before the July 29 Conference Championship when two squads from each competition will punch tickets for Nationals.
South – Gulf Coast 7s, Hotlanta 7s, Music City 7s, and National Athletic Village 7s
Winners: Charlotte Rugby, Miami Amazons, Miami Rugby, New Orleans Rugby, Optimus Rugby, and Orlando Rugby
Charlotte Rugby won both the men’s and women’s brackets at the Carolina’s National Athletic Village 7s. Neither team has had many positive results to show for so far this season, but their success in Pinehurst, N.C., has them back in the conversation for the July 22 Southern 7s Championship.
In Florida, Orlando Rugby earned its first trophy-raising win of the summer at Gulf Coast 7s to pull even with the Miami Amazons in the standings table, while Miami Rugby’s win at the men’s event secured it as the No. 1 seed from Florida at the region’s championship tournament.
New Orleans and Optimus will compete for a South seed at Nationals thanks to tournament wins over the weekend. New Orleans won Music City 7s, and Optimus was the champion of Hotlanta 7s.