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Pool B features perennial power Belmont Shore and three teams that were not at USA 7s Nationals last season. NOVA returns after a year hiatus and is joined by first timers the Little Rock Stormers and the Utah NDA.
Belmont Shore comes into the tournament after dominating the SoCal region. Belmont won three of four tournaments and came out as the top seed from the region. After winning three out four national titles from 2009 to 2012, but nothing since, the southern California side is looking to get back into title contention this go around.
“The boys I have now, the ability is there. I am glad actually the last couple of years we fell off the radar because every year that we came the expectations were always Belmont. With us not doing so well and winning at all in the last couple of years it allowed us to go on the down low. Now the boys have worked even harder to try and put the Belmont name back on the map,” said Belmont Shore coach Peter Sio.”
NOVA comes into the tournament hungry to get back into the national conversation. The Northern Virginia club missed out on the competition last year but has a storied history. NOVA has had 18 appearances with its only title coming in 1996.
Like many of its counterparts, NOVA built a team with a combination of experience and young athletics. PK Komongnan leads the team from an experience stand point while Conroy Smith and Detwan Robinson provide a youthful jolt. While NOVA may pack a punch, it understands the difficulty of competing on the national stage.
“We do not expect to have a single easy minute of pool play and believe that any of these teams can go deep into this tournament, particularly with the championship pedigree of Belmont Shore and the talented ambition assembled by Rugby Utah and the Little Rock Stormers,” said NOVA Club President Clarence Williams.
Upstart Utah NDA demonstrated that in a tough Frontier region, that it was the team to beat. The NDA knocked out the powerful Denver Barbarians from a spot at nationals by winning two of the three qualifier tournaments this summer.
The high performance group features a number of BYU stalwarts and players from across the state. Utah has proven to be a breeding ground of rugby players and the NDA has the potential to make waves at the tournament.
Little Rock will also be making its first ever appearance at Club 7s Nationals. The DII squad will be up against it in this group facing a trio of teams that have been at nationals for many years.
“Every team in all pools are a threat,” said Stormers’ Head Coach Julie McCoy. “We will approach each opponent as a Goliath and pack our slingshots.”
Little Rock made its way to nationals by claiming the second spot from the Red River Conference. The Stormers beat out the Dallas Reds and the Austin Blacks to head to Denver.