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After the Fourth of July weekend, the USA Club Rugby 7s National Qualifiers resumed play with multiple teams looking to improve their resumes or make their mark on the summer. Six events were played in the East with the Atlantic North, Mid-Atlantic, and South in action.
In the Atlantic North, the CT Bulldogs captured their first win in the ultra competitive region. Hosted by the Village Lions at Randall’s Island in New York City, N.Y., the Hell Gate 7s came down to four teams vying for the title. NYAC, Mystic River, Old Blue, and the CT Bulldogs advanced to the playoffs.
In the semifinals, NYAC bested Mystic River, 15-5, and Old Blue and the Bulldogs tied, 19-19. Based on tiebreakers, the Bulldogs earned their first final facing NYAC. In the championship, the Bulldogs’ Lorenzo Thomas and Jihad Khabir showcased their skills beating NYAC, 33-17. With Old Blue and the Bulldogs each holding a first place finish, the Blazing 7s in two weeks will decide who represents the Empire at Nationals.
In the 37th rendition of the Richmond Lions’ Monk Vaughn 7s in the Mid-Atlantic, Schuylkill River notched its first championship over the Beltway Elites, 24-12. After coming in third at the Ruggerama 7s two weeks ago, Schuylkill went undefeated in the tournament beating Norfolk in the semifinals to advance to the final. The Beltway Elite also made it to the final without a loss after dispatching Washington in its semifinal. With two tournaments in the bag for the Mid-Atlantic, the Wilmington 7s is next with the conference championship on July 22 in Philadelphia, Pa.
The South rolled out four qualifiers on Saturday with each division on the field. In the True South and Carolinas divisions, New Orleans and Charlotte earned their second qualifier victories in the Music City 7s in Nashville, Tenn. and the National Athletic Village 7s in Southern Pines, N.C., respectively. Each squad beat the host team in the finals to win the tournament.
At the Hotlanta 7s, Optimus ATL surpassed the three team field for its first Georgia division win. Optimus, a selects team comprised mostly Atlanta Old White players, exacted its revenge on the Legion of Doom in the final after losing by a point in pool pay. In the final, Optimus' Jonathan Poole, Elijah Fluker, and Jamie Gasparella each scored for the 19-15 win, but it was Eugene Elliott’s fantastic defensive performance and the overall team chemistry which brought home the tournament championship.
In the final South qualifier, Miami won the Gulf Coast 7s in St. Petersburg, Fla. Hosted by Bay Area Pelican Rugby Football Club, Miami ran rough shod through the competition capping the tournament with a 27-17 win over Naples. Miami recorded two shutouts in pool play before beating Naples for a second time in the final.
The East National Qualifier schedule rolls on next week with the Saratoga 7s for the Atlantic North, Wilmington 7s in the Mid-Atlantic, and the Cottontown 7s and the Georgia Games in the South.