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It's been a couple of weeks since our last rankings, and with several of our top teams falling, the picture is as clear as mud. Seattle, one of the few exceptions, keeps on winning tournaments and retains the top billing.
Old Blue, despite falling to rival NYAC in the final of the Eric White qualifier, stays at No. 2. This is 7s, after all, and one result can't be overreacted to. Old Blue is a very deep, talented team with a pedigree of winning.
Denver, who was our third-ranked team, certainly has a winning pedigree. The Barbarians have appeared at Nationals more than any other club: 21 times in 30 years. Yes, Denver faltered in Kansas City, finishing third. But the Barbos have not fielded their strongest side yet, with some guys who helped them win the first qualifier missing the second, and some guys who played in the second missing the first. Denver's story was the same last season, and all the Barbos did was win the final West qualifier and finish second in the nation. Don't count Denver out.
The West is again one of the toughest regions in the country. While the number of really quality teams has shrunk to three this year with the absence of WE Rugby, any of those teams would be in the running to win any other regional series in the nation. That strength is indicated in the rankings with the ascent of both the Kansas City Blues and Glendale.
The Raptors have made back-to-back finals on the West circuit so far, but a lack of health and depth has thwarted them. Look for some guys who've been laid up with injuries to return for the Raptors in the final qualifier July 26 in Omaha, Neb. Kansas City, on the other hand, is a team-minded outfit that relies on strong structural play and not a couple of stars. The Blues are hoping that wins out in Omaha.
The Midwest and Northeast are also strong regions, with the top three of each making the list. It's unclear at this point who is better in the NRU between NYAC and the Connecticut Bulldogs, as they're separated by just two points in the series standings. But what is clear is both would be worthy participants at Nationals.
In the Midwest, 1823 trails the Chicago Lions in the standings, but the Columbus group looks poised to have its best year yet. The addition of a veteran like Taylor Howden, who's been to Nationals with three other clubs (Denver, Glendale and Belmont, winning it all with Belmont) will be a tremendous help down the stretch.
Northern California has proven to be an interesting region, with the top four teams all beating up on each other over two tournaments. But it's been a while since NorCal has had a real contender at Nationals, and the fact that Olympic Club, which finished poorly at couple of out-of-region tournaments earlier this summer, is tied for second, indicates there again may not be a legitmate contender coming out of the region.
The Mid-Atlantic might produce a second legitimate contender this year with the Maryland Exiles taking a step forward. They have a good mix of experience and athleticism that will help them compete in Seattle.
The South is still a crap shoot, with no centralized circuit. Teams have been playing, but against what competition? Hard to include anyone from the South other than New Orleans at this point.
|Rank||Prev||Club||What they've done lately|
|1||1||Seattle Saracens||Still undefeated|
|2||2||Old Blue||Finished 2nd to NYAC at Eric White|
|4||5||Chicago Lions||Finished 2nd to 1823 in Cincy|
|5||7||1823||Won in Cincinnati|
|6||3||Denver||Finished 3rd in Kansas City|
|8||13||Schuylkill River||Won Slug 7s|
|9||11||SFGG||Won Sacramento Qualifier|
|10||15||Kansas City Blues||Won KC Qualifier|
|11||14||Glendale||Finished 2nd at KC Qualifier|
|12||12||New Orleans Royale||Still untested|
|13||20||NYAC||Won Eric White|
|14||10||Connecticut Bulldogs||Finished 3rd at Eric White|
|15||8||Maryland Exiles||Finished 2nd in Slug 7s|
|16||6||EPA Razorbacks||Finished 3rd at Sacramento Qualifier|
|17||16||Austin Blacks||Won Red River|
|19||18||Milwaukee Barbarians||Finished 3rd in Cincy|
|20||Unr.||Olympic Club||Finished 2nd in Sacramento Qualifier|