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Body of work. That's the key component to figuring the final rankings in a fractured college 7s landscape. Doing well at one tournament is good, winning a tournament is better, and winning multiple tournaments is great. Of course, the quality of competition at a tournament is important, but the last tournaments of the season, the championships, are not necessarily the end-all, be-all.
Take the World Rugby 7s Series for example. The United States finished first in the last event, but that doesn't mean the Eagles were the best in the world. It means they were on that particular weekend. For a more relevant example all you have to do is look to the Southeastern Collegiate Rugby Championship series. South Carolina won three of the four tournaments, but Alabama won the last one to take the hardware. That doesn't make 'Bama better than South Carolina, and the point of rankings is to put the best in order.
Cal won the best tournament of the fall, the Battle in the Bay, and the best of the spring, the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship. The Bears lost just one 7s game in 2014-2015, to UCLA in the final of the West Coast 7s back in October. Cal is the unequivocal champ and undisputed top-ranked 7s team in the country.
No. 2 is Kutztown. Talk about body of work – KU finished the spring 7s season 46-4, winning eight tournament titles along the way. They fell a player, a try and a few minutes short of winning a ninth at the CRC, with a controversial call leading to an overtime loss. Their four losses were to Cal, Navy, Air Force and Utah, all ranked. A winning percentage of 92 is nothing to scoff at.
Arkansas State is ranked third. The Red Wolves don't have a large body of work, but there's only one blemish on it. In the one tournament in which Arkansas State shared the field with AIC and Lindenwood, the Red Wolves won. That tournament, the Las Vegas Invitational, was arguably the second best of the season, and in it ASU did better than Utah, Kutztown, St. Joe's and Air Force, too. Altogether, Arkansas State went 9-1, with the only loss coming by a conversion in a match where the Red Wolves played down two men thanks to some questionable yellow cards. ASU went 6-1 against ranked opponents.
Ranked fourth is American International College. This is a possibly contentious choice, but the Yellow Jackets finished second at the LVl. They finished second at probably the season's fourth best tournament in the ACRC. And, with their best player knocked out by a concussion a game prior, they were narrowly defeated by eventual champion Lindenwood in the quarterfinals of the second-or-third best tournament in USA Rugby's National Championships in Denver, Colo. Throw in two tournament wins and another runner-up performance at Kutztown 7s, and you have an impressive body of work.
Lindenwood comes in at No. 5. The Lions' issue isn't the quality of results, but the quantity. They played two 7s tournaments all season, winning USA Rugby Nationals and tying for fifth at the Las Vegas Invitational. The Lions went head-to-head with third-ranked AIC twice this season, splitting the series, and both games were won by less than a try. Ultimately, it's AIC's body of work that stretches the Yellowjackets ahead of Lindenwood. Lindenwood has a similar body of work to Arkansas State, but the Lions' winning percentage is slightly worse and they played only three teams in our final rankings all season. Arkansas State played seven.
The only tournament Indiana participated in and didn't win was the CRC. The Hoosiers won three others, all with notable teams in the mix, and were very good in Philadelphia, beating Life in pool play. That impressive body of work sees the Hoosiers to the top 10.
Despite finishing ninth at the CRC, UCLA holds onto a high ranking, because the Bruins were the only team to beat No. 1 Cal all season. They were dominant in the Plate playoffs at the CRC, and they reached the semifinals of two really quality tournaments in the fall. Arizona State also had a great body of work, finishing second to Cal twice in the fall. The Sun Devils faltered a little at USA Rugby Nationals, but in 7s you can't overvalue one tournament or match. Utah also had an impressive body of work, but the only time the Utes and Bruins went head to head, UCLA won, so we give the Bruins the nod.
Arizona fans won't be happy to see the Wildcats, which went on a Cinderella run at the CRC and tied for third, ranked 13th. Arizona doesn't have a large body of work. The Wildcats played in three major tournaments. In both of the ones that included Arizona State, the Sun Devils finished higher. All three also included UCLA, and the Bruins finished higher in two of them.
Perhaps coming in as a surprise at No. 25 is New Mexico Highlands, an NSCRO program. For the second-straight year, the Vatos played in the NSCRO final in conjunction with the CRC, and this time they edged New England College by a try at the death. If New England won, or we ranked the top 26, NEC would be listed, too. The Vatos are extremely athletic, and to justify them getting in, we admittedly went with the eye test.
|3||1||Arkansas State||Tied for 5th CRC|
|4||4||AIC||Tied for 7th USA Rugby|
|5||12||Lindenwood||Won USA Rugby|
|7||15||Central Washington||3rd USA Rugby|
|8||13||Life||Tied for 3rd CRC|
|9||8||Indiana||Tied for 5th CRC|
|10||5||Arizona State||6th USA Rugby|
|12||11||Utah||4th USA Rugby|
|13||Unr.||Arizona||Tied for 3rd CRC|
|14||19||Navy||Tied for 5th CRC|
|15||Unr.||St. Mary's||5th USA Rugby|
|16||Unr.||Michigan||Tied for 5th CRC|
|18||Unr.||San Diego State||Tied 7th USA Rugby|
|19||16||Virginia Tech||Tied for 11th CRC|
|20||10||Air Force||Tied for 11th CRC|
|21||18||Notre Dame||13th CRC|
|22||9||St. Joe's||14th CRC|
|24||20||James Madison||Won DII USA Rugby|
|25||Unr.||New Mexico Highlands||Won NSCRO|
|Cal State 7s||Sacramento, CA||San Diego State||Sacramento State|
|Viking 7s||Bellingham, WA||U. Victoria||UBC|
|Oregon State 7s||Corvallis, WA||W. Washington||Oregon State|
|Boise State 7s||Boise, ID||Utah||Utah B|
|West Coast 7s||San Luis Obispo, CA||UCLA||Cal|
|NCRC||Ellensburg, WA||C. Washington||W. Washington|
|Battle in the Bay||San Francisco, CA||Cal||Arizona State|
|Ivy 7s||Princeton, NJ||Dartmouth||Yale|
|PAC Championship||Los Angeles, CA||Cal||Arizona State|
|PacWest Championship||Reno, NV||Nevada||Sacramento State|
|LVI||Las Vegas, NV||Arkansas State||AIC|
|SIRC Championship||Savannah, GA||UCF||Georgia Tech|
|College Clash||Brighton, MI||Bowling Green||Michigan|
|ACRL Series||Clemson, SC||Notre Dame||Virginia Tech|
|Stony Brook||Long Island, NY||Dartmouth||Kutztown|
|Big XII||Norman, OK||West Virginia||Kansas State|
|St. Joe's 7s||Philadelphia, PA||Kutztown||St. Joe's|
|Dayton 7s||Dayton, OH||Michigan||Notre Dame College|
|SCRC Series||Gainesville, FL||South Carolina||Tennessee|
|ACRL Series||Raleigh, NC||Kutztown||Virginia Tech|
|Philadelphia Collegiate Cup||Philadelphia, PA||Kutztown||Maryland|
|Empire Series||Long Island, NY||AIC||Stony Brook|
|SCRC Series||Tuscaloosa, AL||South Carolina||Tennessee|
|Keystone Series||Morgantown, WV||St. Joe's||West Virginia|
|ACRL Series||South Bend, IN||Indiana||Michigan|
|Big Ten Series||Ann Arbor, MI||Indiana||Illinois|
|Keystone Series||Shippensburg, PA||St. Joe's||Temple|
|Kutztown 7s||Kutztown, PA||Kutztown||AIC|
|ACRL Series||College Park, MD||James Madison||Maryland|
|Big Ten Series||Iowa City, IA||Notre Dame||Iowa|
|NDC Falcon 7s||South Euclid, OH||Bowling Green||St. Bonaventure|
|Rocky Mountain 7s||Fort Colilns, CO||Air Force||Colorado State|
|SCRC Series||Tupelo, MS||South Carolina||Florida|
|ACRL Series||Blacksburg, VA||Virginia Tech||Maryland|
|URugby Challenge Cup||Philadelphia, PA||Kutztown||Temple|
|Armory 7s||Springfield, MA||AIC||Boston College|
|Big Ten Championship||Champaign, IL||Indiana||Wisconsin|
|Empire Series||Binghamton, NY||Kutztown||Stony Brook|
|SCRC Championship||Knoxville, TN||Alabama||Mississippi State|
|Heart of America||Lawrence, KS||Arkansas||Missouri|
|MAC Championship||Bowling Green, OH||Miami||Bowling Green|
|Keystone Series||Rutgers, NJ||St. Joe's||Temple|
|ACRL Championship||Charlotte, NC||Virginia Tech||Clemson|
|Red River Championship||Austin, TX||Texas A&M||Texas|
|ACRC 7s||Virginia Beach, VA||Kutztown||AIC|
|Subaru 7s||Wilmington, DE||Kutztown||Navy|
|USA Rugby Nationals||Denver, CO||Lindenwood||Davenport|