New Orleans and ARPTC took the honors at a key sevens qualifier in the Red River region over the weekend.
Both teams, the NOLA men and the ARPTC women, have put themselves in good position to make it to the USA Rugby Club 7s National Championships August 10-11 (Live on FloRugby).
New Orleans RFC took first place in the second of three Red River qualifiers Saturday by edging the Austin Huns in the final of Hell Or High Water 7s, 12-7.
The win vaults Nola to first place in the standings heading into the final qualifier in Dallas on July 27th, followed closely by the Dallas Reds and the Huns.
NOLA, Dallas, the Huns, and Gorilla Rugby all finished pool play at 3-0, and Reds 2, Huns 2, the West Houston Lions, and the Austin Blacks all finished 2-1 to round out the eight quarterfinalists.
While New Orleans cruised to victory over West Houston in their quarterfinal, the Reds and Huns really had to work for it. Dallas defeated the Blacks 24-17, with a try-saving tackle at the death preserving the win.
Meanwhile, the Huns faced off against a very strong Reds 2 side, and found themselves down 28-7 with less than four minutes remaining. A remarkable comeback sent it to sudden-death overtime, where yours truly was able to throw a few dummies and scamper in untouched from 30 meters for the win.
In the last quarterfinal, the Huns 2 side throttled Gorilla Rugby to set up a semifinal showdown with NOLA.
The two semifinals were competitive, but made for little drama. Huns 1 rode a staunch defensive performance en route to a 24-7 win over Reds 1, and three first-half tries by New Orleans saw them overcome a tough Huns 2 team, 15-7.
In the final, NOLA and Huns 1 played a hard-hitting matchup in the rain that went back and forth for 14 minutes. It took a heroic chase down tackle from New Orleans to bundle the Huns winger into touch on the final play of the game to secure the win.
It was a huge victory for the men from Louisiana, who now control their own destiny in the quest for the lone Red River bid to nationals. The Dallas Reds can also still qualify, but they'll have to finish in first place at the final qualifier to do so. For the Huns, they're going to have to win the last tournament and hope that New Orleans finishes no higher than third.
As it stands:
New Orleans: 10 points
Dallas Reds: 8 points
Austin Huns: 6 points
*1st place receives 6 points, 2nd place receives 4 points, 3rd place receives 2 points, and 4th place receives 1 point
On the women's side, it was business as usual for ARPTC, who sent two sides down to Houston for the qualifier. Both sides went undefeated, before electing not to play each other in the final. After an underwhelming finish at Bloodfest 7s in June, the women from Arkansas have progressed nicely since.
The two teams placed second and third at Cape Fear 7s a week ago, each just losing to national powerhouse Scion. Although they see few competitive games in their Red River schedule, their matchups with big-time teams like Scion, Berkeley All Blues, and Rocky Mountain Magic will have them battle-tested by nationals on August 10-11.