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This past weekend featured five 7s National Qualifier tournaments across the country. Mystic River defeated division leaders Old Blue in the Atlantic North’s Newports 7s, Beltway Elite took down tournament hosts NOVA in NOVA-Ruggerama 7s, Rugby Utah outlasted the Denver Barbarians in the Frontier’s Denver 7s, the Dallas Reds defeated the Austin Blacks in the Red River’s Tornado Alley 7s and Belmont Shore upended Santa Monica in a thriller of a Pacific South Orange County 7s Cup Final.
On the women’s side, Scion defeated NOVA in the MAC, Providence won in a strange North Atlantic structure, the American Rugby Professional Training Center captured the Cup in the Red River and the San Diego Surfers dominated the Pacific South.
Beltway Elite earned the championship in the opening round of Mid-Atlantic National Qualifier play via a 24-19 win over NOVA. In sunny Leesburg, Va. the new team had to come back from deficits of 14 and 12-0 respectively in the semifinals and finals.
NOVA and Beltway got the rematch both teams wanted in the final after a 17-all tie in pool play and did not disappoint. NOVA owned possession for the first five minutes and put two in the try zone with one converted for the 12-0 lead. Just as it did against Schuylkill River in the semis, Beltway had to dig deep to come away with the victory.
A yellow card was issued to NOVA for a high tackle and Beltway took advantage with a try apiece from prop Dave Hightower and wing Joe Hughes to tie the match at 12-all before halftime. NOVA then hopped back on top in the second before Beltway responded with a long break from center John Murray to knot the game at 19 apiece with a minute to go. Wing Joanel Joseph found space on the outside and outraced the NOVA sweeper to seal the win for the Beltway on the game’s final play.
Scion started the defense of its National Championship in a big way in the women’s bracket. It blew out the DC Furies in the semifinals seven tries to nil, then held off rival NOVA 21-7 in the Finals.
After a third place finish last week in a super-competitive North Atlantic Division, Mystic River was an off tournament away from being all-but eliminated from Nationals contention. It instead outpaced the rest of the competition in Newport, R.I. to put itself in good position to secure one of the two Northeast Nationals bids.
Mystic River avenged the June 17th semifinal loss to NYAC by returning the favor in this week’s semifinals. Mystic then jumped on top in the Cup Final with a try from captain Jared Collinson. Old Blue struck back with some nifty handling and an offload from Eagle Connor Wallace-Sims. Mystic calmly fielded the restart, then John Sullivan offloaded to his big wing Stephen Dazzo to go up 12-7 at half.
Old Blue answered in the second to tie things up 12-all. That score held until Sullivan broke through for another big run, then offloaded to Duncan Wellesley for the game winner, 17-12.
Due to teams putting in multiple squads and a quirky bracket breakdown, the more dramatic matches in Atlantic North Women’s side happened in pool play. Providence defeated Beantown’s first side 12-10, then took down Boston 10-7 and Beantown’s second side 19-5. Providence then defeated a developmental Beantown side in the Cup Final, 29-0.
In Denver 7s it took a comeback win from defending National Champion Rugby Utah to defeat tournament hosts the Denver Barbarians. Denver had defeated Utah 36-14 in pool play earlier in the day and looked to have Utah’s number with an early 19-7 lead.
The dangerous Utah squad answered to make it 19-14, but Denver responded quickly for a seemingly-decisive 24-14 lead. It took some flawless play from Utah to complete the comeback, and the champs were up to the task. A try from Havea Unufe left enough time for the kickoff and Utah recovered. With no time left Utah took the ball down the field and found Anthony Welmers for the game winner, 26-24.
The Austin Blacks had a chance to rattle off back-to-back qualifier wins. But in Norman, Okla. the Blacks fell short to the Dallas Reds, 21-12. After a third place finish last week and a loss in the opening match of pool play, the Blacks’ hopes for Nationals appeared to be slipping away early. But Dallas regrouped and ran the table all the way through the championship game.
Narada Jackson struck first for the Reds, then Blake Boulton followed up with an interception and 70M try. In the second half the Blacks’ defense beefed up in its attempt for another Cup Championship. But a high tackle and subsequent penalty try sealed this one for the Reds and made Dallas serious contenders for one of the two Nationals bids from the Red River.
The American Rugby Professional Training Center (ARPTC) defeated the Austin Valkyries 17-12 to capture the Tornado Alley Women’s Cup.
After losing the championship match to out-of-conference Denver last week, Belmont Shore regrouped in Orange County, Calif. Both of its teams advanced to the semifinals where the second side took a forfeit to the first. Santa Monica defeated OMBAC to face Belmont in the final and the match between the two rivals did not disappoint.
The teams were knotted up 26-all at the end of regulation, giving the fans an extra period of “free” rugby. Belmont and Santa Monica traded body blows before Belmont broke through the Dolphins’ defense for the knockout, sudden death win 31-26.
The San Diego Surfers faced little resistance throughout the day in the women’s bracket. The Surfers ran past Tempe 36-10 in the Cup Final.
All teams across the country will have a bye for Fourth of July weekend before resuming Qualifier play on July 8th.