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A trio of South 7s qualifiers culminated in trophies for Miami, the Atlanta Old White, and Charlotte on Saturday. With the Todd Miller 7s in Clermont, Fla., the Vulcan 7s in Birmingham, Ala., and the Queen City 7s in Charlotte, N.C., the South is almost halfway through its schedule before the conference championships on July 23rd.
In the second of Florida’s three qualifiers, Miami won the Todd Miller 7s to take a resounding points lead in the geographic union. Miami took care of business and cruised to a semifinal date with Brevard, while Orlando matched up against Naples. Victories saw Miami and Orlando through to the cup final where Miami blasted Orlando, 50-5, for its second qualifier championship.
“Our kickoff game is strong, so we try to maintain possession and work our defensive shape to get the ball back,” Miami 7s coach Ronnie Suarez said. “Damien Clemente was player of the tournament. Our captain is playing the best rugby he has in the last couple of years. Everyone is playing well, but having the captaincy pushed him harder and he did some great work.”
In the True South’s second qualifier at the Vulcan 7s, the Atlanta Old White won its third straight tournament and first qualifying event. After an eight-team pool play round, the Old White beat the Legion of Doom and the Oklahoma Elite bashed Birmingham in the semifinals. In the cup final, Atlanta took home the top prize defeating the Oklahoma Elite for a second time, 26-17.
“We managed the pace of the game,” Atlanta captain Jamie Gasparella. “A big thing for us this summer is controlling possession. We knew the Oklahoma Elites were coming off a very emotional victory in the semifinals and we wanted to starve them of the ball. We were able to take advantage of some early opportunities, an early yellow card, put some points on the board, and get ahead. In the second half, we cranked up the defense and put a lot of pressure on them to close it out properly.”
With only Charlotte, Charleston, and Columbia entered in the Queen City 7s as qualifying teams, the premier and open brackets were combined for the Carolina’s first tournament. Old Toe, Raleigh, Cape Fear, and Southern Pines joined the competition to round out the seven team field.
Charlotte was undefeated in pool play beating the other two qualifying teams and Old Toe. In the playoffs, Charlotte blanked Cape Fear 48-0 in the semifinals, and crushed Raleigh in the cup final, 43-5. Overall, Charlotte scored 191 points in five matches and only gave up a total of three tries.
Charlotte 7s coach Alec Acosta said the key of the tournament was playing as a team. “This was our first tournament with all the guys playing for qualifying positions. We followed the pattern of play that we’ve been practicing for the past month. We took the opportunities presented to us on offense and believing in the pattern of play.”
With the South qualifiers off next weekend for the Fourth of July, the Atlanta Old White and Charlotte will venture to the Cape Fear 7s to test their might against high quality competition in 1823, Stars Rugby, and the All Army 7s team. The qualifiers pick up again on July 9th with the Invasion 7s in Florida, the Hotlanta 7s in Georgia, the Tennessee 7s in the True South, and the Carolinas 7s Championships.