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(One exception is Pool B, with SoCal #3 OMBAC, but few would argue they're just there to make up the number.)
This is also made possible by the inclusion of Hawaii as a territory. The Hawaii champions are also not there just because we need a 16th team. They can play, very well.
Measuring the pools by the new RUGBYMag.com rankings (we just add up the rankings of each team), you'd expect each pool to average 34 points. They won't, though, because RUGBYMag.com ranked SFGG in the top 16, and they're not at the tournament. But even so the pools are close: 39, 32, 39, 34.
By that measurement, the toughest pool is Pool B, with Schuylkill River, Old Blue, Olympic Club, and OMBAC. Certainly the two non-#1 seeds, O-Club and OMBAC, could win that pool. But look at Pool D, with the Chicago Lions, Tama Laie Lions, Kansas City Blues, and defending champs Belmont Shore. Wow, that's a tough one, too.
You could say that about all of these pools. We think OPSB will clearly win Pool C, but that's the only pool where we feel that way.
But even there, you couldn't pick who gets second ... any other three could.
So that's the message. Among all the criticism of the summer club 7s season, and plenty of critical commentary we've fielded at RUGBYMag.com about how weak this region is, or that region is, this is actually a very competitive 7s year. There are lots of good teams. In fact there are some good teams that didn't qualify.
There is no Pool of Death, a pool where everyone is good and a really, really good team could end up 3rd, because every pool is a pool of death. Forget about one really good team not getting into the Cup Quarterfinals; all eight teams in the bottom half are good. More than any year in my memory, this is a tournament where the worst team is still good - smart, athletic, skilled, deep. And that's good news for everyone.