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The USA Rugby 7s National Championship field is starting to take shape. While some teams earned a berth in fall 7’s, most spots have been clinched in the recent weeks.
Cal and Central Washington were the only two teams to earn invitations in the fall. Out West, they focus on 7s in the fall while the bulk of 15s play happens in the winter and spring. Central Washington is a contender to win it all, having several players who have participated on the HSBC circuit (Aladdin Schirmer and Seth Halliman). The Golden Bears, however, who have won the CRC the last three years, will not participate in the USA Rugby championship.
West Virginia and St. Bonaventure qualified early in the spring, with the Bonnies actually claiming victories in two qualifiers. The rest of the field has earned spots more recently, with the bulk coming in the last two weeks.
After a disappointing finish in the CRC qualifier, AIC took care of business in its home tournament to claim a spot in North Carolina. The Yellow Jackets ran through the competition until the final. Jihad Khabir netted a hat trick in a close victory over New England College.
“Once we loaded back up and we started playing again, you know you do this because you like it not because of the tournaments that gets you in. It is good to see the guys realize this again the last couple of weeks,” AIC head coach Josh Macy said of the few weeks after the LVI.
April 16th saw the biggest slate of teams qualify. Arkansas continued its successful season with a win in the Heart of America Conference tournament. The Razorbacks will now focus on 7s after being bounced from the DIAA semifinals this past weekend. Bowling Green, Temple, Boston College, Kennesaw State, and South Carolina all earned invitations as well.
Although a number of these teams received invites, it is more than likely at least half will not attend. South Carolina, Temple and Boston College all accepted invites to the CRC. The matter is complicated further as several runner-ups earned spots at the CRC by way of conference qualifications. Maryland and Tennessee will be headed to Philadelphia rather than to North Carolina.
North Texas returns to the national championships with a win in the southwest Conference 7s last weekend. With about a month until the festivities, three automatic spots are still up for grabs, The Ivy 7s, Rocky Mountain 7s and the PAC West 7s will all send teams.
Other teams that are sure to get at large bids include St. Mary's Lindenwold and Davenport. Lindenwood is the reigning national champions after beating rival Davenport in a tight final. The Gaels are perennial contenders and will be looking to give it another go after a disappointing finish last year.
With a number of at large spots still in play and a competing event, it is tough to predict the final set of teams. The only thing that is guaranteed is that all of the winners of sanctioned USA Rugby tournaments will receive an invitation to the national championships.
|DATE||NAME OF TOURNAMENT||LOCATION||WINNER||RUNNER UP|
|10/10/15||West Coast Sevens||San Luis Obispo, CA||Cal||Arizona State|
|10/18/15||Northwest Collegiate Rugby Conference 7s||Ellensburg, WA||Central Washington||Gonzaga|
|2/27/16||Big XII Universities Rugby 7s Championship||Norman, OK||West Virginia||Oklahoma|
|3/12/16||NDC Collegiate Cup Challenge||South Euclid, OH||St. Bonaventure||Notre Dame College|
|4/9/16||St. Bonaventure Sevens||St. Bonaventure, NY||St. Bonaventure||West Virginia|
|4/10/16||Armory Collegiate Sevens||Springfield, MA||AIC||New England College|
|4/16/16||ACRL 7s Championship||Greenville, NC||Boston College||Maryland|
|4/16/16||Heart of America Conference 7s||Lawrence, KS||Arkansas||Kansas State|
|4/16/16||Keystone Conference 7s||West Chester, PA||Temple||West Virginia|
|4/16/16||Mid American Conference 7s Championship||Bowling Green, OH||Bowling Green||Cincinnati|
|4/16/16||South Independent Rugby Conference 7s||Tallahassee, FL||Kennesaw State||South Florida|
|4/16/16||Southeastern Conference Championship||Columbia, SC||South Carolina||Tennessee|
|4/23/16||Kutztown 7s||Kutztown, PA||St. Bonaventure||New England College|
|4/24/16||Southwest Conference 7s||Denton, TX||North Texas||Houston|
|4/30/16||Ivy Rugby 7s Championship||Hanover, NH|
|5/7/16||Rocky Mountain 7s||Colorado Spings, CO|
|5/14/16||Pacific Western Conference 7s||Santa Cruz, CA|