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As the summer 7s season is set to get underway, USA Rugby has made some changes to the geographic regions. In previous years, Texas Rugby Union, also known as Red River, competed in the Western region. However, starting in 2014 Texas will be competing in its own division. It will receive one berth to the Nationals.
The new format will guarantee a team from Red River makes an appearance at the National Tournament. In the last several seasons only the Woodland Exiles have advanced to the national stage. However, it is unclear whether the Exiles will be participating. As of the 13th they had no players registered and under Texas Rugby Union the team needed to registered by June 15th. Players have until the 27th to complete any CIPP transfer in order to be eligible to compete on other teams if WE elects not to participate.
The Dallas Reds, Austin Blacks and Dallas Harlequins all have legitimate chances to earn the berth to Nationals.
The Austin Blacks are looking to earn a Nationals berth in just its second season playing 7s. They played in one qualifier last year and struggled facing the likes of Glendale.
Without Woodlands and with NOLA playing in a different region, several teams have a chance of making it out of the region. “With just Texas teams, no NOLA nor Woodland, it is really an open bracket this year,” said Austin Blacks head coach Tane Jericevich.
The Blacks recently won the San Marcos tournament and lost a thrilling semifinal match in the Bentley tournament to the Dallas Reds. The competition is very close and should go down to the wire.
Unlike some of the other regions, Texas will only have three tournaments to determine the best 7s team in the area. Some clubs see this as advantage because playing four or five tournaments prior to Nationals could place a costly toll on an individual and team rosters.
“Five tournaments can be a bit much,” said Jerecevich. “We are happy with the three tournament schedule and are confident the best team in Texas will arise from it.”
The 7s series will kick off for Texas Rugby Union on June 28th at the home of the Austin Huns in Austin, Texas. It will be the first of three tournaments. The second will take place on July 12th in Tulsa, Oklahoma and the final qualifier will take place on July 26th in Houston, Texas.