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Is Old Blue of New York the prohibitive favorite to win the Men's Club 7s National Championship? Maybe - certainly every other team would be delighted putting that target on the hosts' backs.
But, this is sevens, anything can happen. Old Blue has been fairly dominant in the Northeast, and head coach Dom Wareing puts that down to depth.
"We have had a really deep player pool this summer, with contributions coming from everyone that has represented the club over the 4 tournaments we played, including several college players that have slotted right into the culture and buying into what being an Old Blue is all about," said Wareing. "We are the sum of our parts and nobody can perform if we aren’t all stepping up at every practice and game."
That's pretty much a call to arms. Wareing said Old Blue is a strength-based steam, meaning that he's spent his efforts honing what the club does well. And that also means using that depth.
"With a bit of a break after the last tournament and Nationals, we have set up practices to be as competitive as possible and maintain a tournament mentality and focus," explained Wareing. We have a rotation of Core Games we play which are a group of constraint-based games to focus on different potential outcomes and just had a rugby bingo night challenging players to cross off boxes by pulling off skills. All this makes things fun and competitive meaning we had no drop-off in focus."
He's certainly approaching nationals in a detailed way, and he has to, as Old Blue is also hosting the tournament - there's a lot of pride at stake.
"The whole club has its eyes open going into Nationals knowing we are playing well and have home-field advantage," said Wareing. "It is an exciting prospect but we have only one focus at the moment and that is Cleveland at12 pm on Saturday. We have comfort in knowing we have prepared to the best of our ability and as such this turns pressure into our ally, something we can embrace and use, not hold us back."