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Despite the Austin Blacks having locked up the region's only berth to nationals, and speculation that the third qualifier might be cancelled as a result, the Texas Rugby Union has elected to move forward with the third qualifier. The tournament will take place this weekend in Houston.
“We were never intending to cancel the third qualifier,” Texas director of 7s Filip Keuppens told Rugby Today. “I think there may have been some speculation from one or two parties based on the fact that the Austin Blacks locked up the RRRC seed after the second event, but cancelling the event was not in the cards as long as teams were planning to compete.”
Despite worries about cost, the Texas Rugby Union never considered cancelling the 3rd qualifier. The most important factor in that decision was the continued growth of 7s rugby in the region.
“It is our intention to develop the RRRC into a very competitive 7s region. As such, we believe that providing as many quality tournaments as possible throughout the summer will not only prepare the RRRC representative for the championship tournament but it will also help develop the teams that fell short, thus improving the overall competition.”
With the competition wrapped up, some of the long distance teams will not be participating. All of the Oklahoma teams will not be making the journey to Houston. Nevertheless, the tournament will be filled with the traditional Texas squads as well as a few regional teams.
“We expected some attrition throughout the series particularly since there is only one seed up for grabs to the RRRC teams this year but many of the core qualifier teams such as the Reds, Quins, Blacks and Bonobos are planning to play this coming weekend. We also have a few regional teams that are entering the competition so we expect that the participation from a number of teams perspective will be relatively consistent with the two events.”
The tournament will have a different look and feel but will continue to provide teams the opportunity to improve their skills. The Austin Blacks will welcome one final tune up before heading to Seattle for Nationals.