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The final leg of the Frontier 7s took place in Salt Lake City, Utah this weekend. Although Glendale won the tournament, the Kansas City Blues earned the coveted berth to Nationals.
The Utah NDA won the first two tournaments and had qualified for nationals prior to this weekend’s action. Both Kansas City and Denver had finished 2nd in the two prior tournaments and were battling for the 2nd berth.
It was a small field in Utah with only four teams attending the qualifier. Denver looked the strongest to start the day, finishing pool play with an undefeated record. The other three teams all went 1-2 in the round robin.
Despite Denver’s strong start, their hopes of returning to nationals ended with a shocking 26-19 loss to Glendale. The Barbarians finished 2nd overall at nationals in 2015 but will miss out on the action this year.
“Despite losing four games all summer and beating Utah twice today, we failed to advance to nationals. Proud of the effort from the boys. Tough day,” the Barbarians said via Twitter on Saturday.
The Kansas City Blues won their semi final match in dramatic fashion. After blowing a lead over Utah, the Blues scored a try in sudden death overtime. In light of the fact that Denver lost its semifinal, the dramatic victory propelled Kansas City to nationals.
The Blues ran out of gas in the final losing 34-0 to the Raptors. The match meant nothing and the Kansas City side had given its all to get the result it needed over Utah.
After finishing 4th at nationals two years ago the Blues went winless in pool play in 2015. Kansas City found it’s footing on day two, however, racking up three wins and earning a 9th place finish. The Blues will be looking to better that this go around, and after playing in a tough Frontier 7s, could easily do so.
For Utah, this tournament was about continuing to build momentum for nationals. Although it did not win, the NDA learned some valuable lessons before its first foray to nationals.
“Our guys just couldn’t close today,” said Rugby Utah NDA coach Ben Nicholls, “We learned some hard lessons at home. But better to learn them now and here than at Nationals. Hopefully we’re better for it in the long run.”
Utah and Kansas City will head to Dick Sporting Goods Park in Colorado for nationals on August 13-14th.