The USA Rugby Club 7s National Championship field is almost full after a rousing weekend of qualifier action around the nation.
Here’s how it all shook out, and we’ll update who has qualified at the end of the article.
First off, what we don’t know. We won’t know the Pacific North (men and women), and Red River (men and women), or Frontier men qualifiers until next week.
Of course it came down to the final between Mystic River and Old Blue. Old Blue took a 12-7 lead only to see Pecs Rinakama score to put Mystic up 14-12. With time up, Old Blue got a penalty, tapped and took the ball into contact. The ball was knocked loose.
And here’s the intriguing part of that play. A ball dropped sideways that then rolls forward is not a knock-on. A ball knocked backward by a tackler isn’t necessarily a knock-on.
The drop by Old Blue might have easily been called a knock-on, but the referee let play continue, Old Blue kicked ahead and scored under the posts. Old Blue 19, Mystic River 14.
Both teams go to nationals, but Old Blue takes the #1 men’s seed.
NAV 7s made the final of the NOVA 7s and that was enough to garner the points to qualify. The other team in the final, Schuylkill River, had already qualified in the Super Qualifier.
Schuylkill NAV won the final 19-14, it didn’t matter all that much for NAV, as the program is the Mid-Atlantic #1 anyway.
Atlanta Old White won the opening tournament and this week in Raleigh, NC just needed to finish the job. That they did. Old White had to battle to get through Optimus 26-19 in the semis, and then defeated the Stormers 19-7 to win.
AOW got big performances from Daemon Torres at prop and Darell Williams out on the wing.
Milwaukee spoiled the party for a few teams tat figured they had a shot at making it to Kansas City. But the run ended in the final as the Chicago Lions rolled to win the region 33-7. Milwaukee actually scored the opening try, but after that it was all Lions. Jake Hidalgo and Andrew Guerra went over to stake Chicago to a 14-7 lead, and then Hidalgo, Joe Van Zyl, and Josh Williams all touched down to finish it off.
The Lions got some good work from high-schooler Will Chevalier (Neuqua HS) in the final.
While the Pacific North will run its championship tournament next week, Pacific South finished off this weekend with the Sunsplash 7s. Not surprisingly, Belmont Shore Blue was strong again, beating OMBAC 33-7 and Oceanside 33-12 in pool play. Belmont Shore Gold, however, went one better, beating OMBAC 21-7, Oceanside 29-5, and then Belmont Shore Blue 29-12.
That set up the semis with Gold against Oceanside and Blue against OMBAC. As of right now, this tournament is yet to finish.
So Who Has Qualified?
In the men's National Championships bracket, here's who has made it:
Schuylkill River, Old Blue, Mystic River, NAV 7s, Chicago Lions, Milwaukee, Life West, and Atlanta Old White. And probably Belmont Shore Blue and Belmont Shore Gold.
Still to confirm:
Red River (1 Seed)
Frontier (3 Seeds)
Pacific North (2 Seeds)