The Runner Sports

USA Club Rugby Report: United States Of Sevens – 8 Competitive Regions Determine 32 Clubs Vying For 1 National Championship

The USA Rugby Club Sevens season has begun! While most tournaments kicked off this past weekend the season basically started the day after the USA Rugby Club 15s National Championships. This season’s USA Rugby club 7s tournaments will ultimately culminate with the USA Club Rugby Sevens National Championship Tournament August 12-13 at the National Sports Center in Blaine, Minnesota. The tournament will be broadcast live on The Rugby Channel.

Many of you may be familiar with the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series which takes place in various cities across the globe; 10 stops for 21 international men’s sides, 6 stops for 16 international women’s sides. But what about here in the States? How do 32 clubs qualify for the 2017 USA Rugby Emirates Airline Club 7s National Championship?

The answer is simple, each Competitive Region (CR) establishes their own criteria for qualification, and hold several tournaments throughout the summer as qualifying events; while each CR is slightly different in their number of tournaments, the concept behind selection is the same. Each tournament will provide clubs points to determine seeding in each CR’s championship tournament. The Frontier CR, for example, awards 6 points for first place, 4 points for second, 2 points for third, and 1 point for fourth. Some CR’s award points to every participating club.

United States of Sevens

As a sport, sevens has really begun to take hold in the United States. Could our country become the leading Sevens nation in the world? It is possible; we already host one round of the HSBC World Series in Las Vegas for both men and women, the College Rugby Championship (CRC) is broadcast on NBC and has been since 2014, San Francisco will host the 2018 Rugby Sevens World Cup, and two professional leagues/tournaments are expected to begin play in 2018.

Grand Prix Rugby is slated to begin a professional international tournament using the weekend after the Rugby Sevens World Cup with a Million Dollar Match in Las Vegas as their launching pad.

Super 7s intends to kick off next year as well; while they call themselves 7s the league will offer a slightly extended version of the game featuring four 12-minute quarters instead of two 7-minute halves. There are other rule variations to Super 7s but it is essentially the same sport and can have lasting benefits for our USA Eagles National 7s squad. USA finished this season 5th in the world, our highest ranking ever. Could #1 be far away with a growing focus on sevens in the US and fully professional rugby players competing to be Eagles?

Benefits of Professional Sevens

The obvious benefit is a professional contract allowing rugby players to focus on, well, being rugby players. It cannot be understated just how vital it is for athletes to be a part of a professional environment where their only job is to prepare and play the sport they train for.

The format of Super 7s, while not exactly the same as international 7s, will help with one aspect of the Eagles game that needs improvement…conditioning. Four 12-minute quarters will clearly help drive fitness levels up among USA-based sevens athletes.

The two competitions will provide more opportunities for players to get identified, with our nations being so vast, talent can get lost without an opportunity to be scouted; more opportunity is always a good thing.

Recognition for the sport is another boon; while it can be confusing to the novice with four different versions of rugby being played in the United States, don’t underestimate the sports landscape’s ability to comprehend multiple versions of a sport as a whole. Look at football…the gridiron version. In North America five versions of the game are played; the style played in the NFL differs from what is played in Canada, Arena football has its own set of rules, let’s not forget college and high school of slightly different rules (one foot in-bounds, clock stoppages, etc.), and finally we have the 8-man version played in smaller high schools all across the country.

Speaking of high schools, I have always contended that professional competitions produce the desire to develop a sport at middle and high school levels. With sevens becoming more ingrained in the college game as well, it won’t be long before a large number of middle and high schools produce sevens clubs. As more colleges become varsity, more high schools will develop squads, and the sport will continue to grow; maybe even outgrow the 15s version eventually. Sevens is the perfect middle and high school sport as it doesn’t take many players to fill a squad allowing smaller schools to compete while filling the spring and summer gap for football starved communities. How long until we lead the world in sevens? How long before we are the United States of Sevens?

Here is a list of qualifying tournaments in each Competitive Region for the 2017 USA Club Rugby Sevens National Championship Tournament.

Competitive Regions

Pacific North: Qualifying Tournaments –
• 6/17 – Capital City Classic 7s, Salem, OR
• 7/8 – CanAm 7s, Bellingham, WA
• 7/15 – Roy Lucas 7s, West Lynn, OR
• 7/29 – Tacoma Aroma 7s, Tacoma WA

Pacific South: Qualifying Tournaments –
• 6/17 – OMBAC 7s, San Diego, CA
• 6/24 – Orange County 7s,
• 7/15 – Belmont Shore 7s
• 7/22 – Santa Monica 7s, Santa Monica, CA

Texas: Qualifying Tournaments –
• 6/17 – Bloodfest 7s, Austin, TX
• 6/24 – Tornado Alley 7s, Norman, OK
• 7/8 – Space City 7s, Bay Area, TX
• 7/22 – Cowtown 7s, Fort Worth, TX

Frontier: Qualifying Tournaments –
• 6/17 – Madtown 7s, Madison, WI
• 7/8 – Rock n Roll 7s, Cleveland, OH
• 7/15 – Legacy 7s, Brighton, MI
• 7/29 – Midwest Championship 7s, Cincinnati, OH

South: Qualifying Tournaments –
• 6/17 – NOLA 7s, New Orleans, LA
• 7/8 – Music City 7s, Nashville, TN
• 7/22 – Southern Conference 7s, Atlanta, GA

Mid-Atlantic: Qualifying Tournaments –
• 6/24 – NOVA 7s, Vienna, VA
• 7/8 – Richmond Lions 7s, Richmond, VA
• 7/15 – Wilmington 7s, Wilmington, NC
• 7/22 – Schuylkill River 7s, Philadelphia, PA

Northeast Sevens (Atlantic North): Qualifying Tournaments –
NEFRU:
• 6/24 – Newport 7s, Newport, RI
• 7/8 – Eric White Memorial 7s, Springfield, MA
• 7/15 – Saratoga 7s, Saratoga, NY
• 7/22 – Boston 7s, Acton, MA

Empire: (Downstate Series and Upstate Series)
• 6/17 – DS: Monmouth 7s, Lincroft, NJ
US: Binghamton 7s, Binghamton, NY
• 6/24 – DS: Tri-State 7s, Danbury, CT
• 7/8 – DS: Hell Gate 7s, New York City, NY
US: Syracuse 7s, Syracuse, NY
• 7/15 – DS: New Haven 7s, New Haven, CT
US: Buffalo 7s, Buffalo, NY
• 7/22 – DS: Blazing 7s, Morristown, NJ

Additional 7s Tournaments:

6/24 – Vulcan 7s, Birmingham, AL

6/24 – 50th Denver 7s, Denver, CO

7/1 – Lakefront 7s, Milwaukee, WI

8/5 – Elvis 7s, Memphis, TN

8/25 – RugbyTown 7s, Glendale, CO

9/14 – 50th Aspen Ruggerfest, Aspen, CO

 

 

-By Jason Graves