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A wild Saturday at the 2017 USA Rugby Emirates Airline Club 7s National Championship at the National Sports Center in Blaine, Minn. ended with 16 teams advancing to the Cup Quarterfinals on Sunday. On a day of surprises and many pools won by point differential, only six teams walked away without a mark in the loss column. The Rugby Utah Selects, Washington Athletic Club (WAC), and the Denver Barbarians were undefeated on the Men’s side and New York, the San Diego Surfers, and Atavus emerged unscathed after the Women’s pool play. Sunday’s Cup Quarterfinals begin at 9:40am for the Women and 10:20 for the Men.
In the Men’s Pool A, Rugby Utah ran away with the group and a 3-0 record as it piled up 88 points of offense. The Connecticut Bulldogs (2-1) captured second place after beating the Austin Huns and the Beltway Elite, but suffered a rough 42-17 defeat to Rugby Utah. The Huns picked up their only win over Beltway, 29-7, in their final game as Beltway played valiantly but could not notch a victory on Saturday.
With 100 points scored, the WAC blasted Pool B and will take their undefeated record into the cup round Sunday. After dropping its first game to the WAC, 29-17, Old Blue recovered in their final two games by trouncing Dallas and Metropolis by a combined total of 81-10. After a promising start versus Metropolis, Dallas dropped its last two games to finish 1-2 and home team club, Metropolis, could not find traction on the field.
Pool C came down to the final two games with Belmont Shore and Schuylkill River fighting for second place. The Denver Barbarians clinched the pool with a 3-0 record, but it was the Exiles of Schuylkill River who pulled off the upset of the tournament on Day One. The Pennsylvania squad beat Belmont 17-12, however, it was Belmont who advanced to the cup round on point differential. In the final two games of the day, Charlotte beat Schuylkill on the final play to win 21-14, and Denver upended Belmont, 28-7. Fortunately for Belmont, it advanced with a -7 differential over Schuylkill’s -17.
Like Pool C, Pool D was ultra competitive with the top three teams tied with 2-1 records. The Chicago Lions, the Life West Gladiators, and the Santa Monica Dolphins traded blows with each other all day. With wins over Optimus and Santa Monica, the Lions took first with a +27 differential. Second place came down to one point as Life West advanced over Santa Monica after the Dolphins beat the Gladiators earlier in the day.
The Cup Quarterfinals start at 10:20am on Sunday as Rugby Utah plays Old Blue, Chicago is matched against Belmont Shore, the WAC draws the CT Bulldogs, and Denver takes on Life West to complete the first round of the playoffs.
For the Women, Pool A was hotly contested with three teams finishing with 2-1 records. The Life West Gladiatrix and Scion Rugby advanced based on a +49 and +44 point differential over the Glendale Merlins’ +12 mark. The defending champion Scion’s only loss came from the Merlins, 10-5, but excelled against Tempe and Life West. The Gladiatrix torched Glendale and Tempe to a total of 70-10 before succumbing to Scion in the final game, 21-10.
New York Rugby Club was in firm control of Pool B outscoring the opposition 91-17. After shutting out the Austin Valkyries, New York beat Chicago and Philadelphia to secure first place in the group. Like their men’s counterparts, the Chicago Lions advanced in the cup rounds by taking care of business against Austin and Philly. The Valkyries picked up their lone win against Philly.
The favorite of Pool C was the American Rugby Pro Training Center (ARPTC), but it was the San Diego Surfers who went undefeated. The Surfers beat ARPTC, 17-12, in their head-to-head, blanked the Atlanta Harlequins (24-0), and held off a late surge by Beantown to win 19-10. ARPTC began its day with two high scoring matches against Atlanta and Beantown (80-10 combined) before coming back earth with its loss to San Diego. Atlanta closed out Saturday with a 17-12 victory over Beantown.
The top seed from the Pacific South, Atavus, encountered minimal resistance until their final game in Pool D. Against Northern Virginia, the Seattle outfit trailed by a point with four minutes to go. Atavus’ Erica Legaspi scored the game-winner in the 11th minute to send her club to the quarterfinals. NOVA picked up wins against Orlando and Minneapolis to advance to Sunday, while home town Minneapolis beat Orlando, 21-10 in their final match.
Starting at 9:40am on Sunday, the Cup Quarterfinals begin with the matchup between Atavus and ARPTC followed by Life West versus the Chicago Lions, San Diego against NOVA, and finally, New York playing Scion.