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Maryland Exiles scoring on Schuylkill River. Evan Lappen photo

On a hot Saturday, the Wilmington (DE) Rugby Football Club held their fourth-annual Blue Ball Sevens at Alapocas Run State Park. The tournament was the first qualifier of the Mid-Atlantic Conference (MAC) Sevens Series after the Northern Virginia (NOVA) Ruggerama Sevens tournament was postponed for inclement weather.

The action started early in the morning for the 34 teams competing in three divisions: men’s premier, men’s open and women’s. Ten teams from three states represented the men’s premier division. Pool play consisted of two groups: Schuylkill River, Raleigh, Rocky Gorge, Maryland Exiles, and Washington and NOVA, Norfolk, Washington, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore-Chesapeake.

Pool play ended with Schuylkill River, Maryland Exiles, NOVA, and Norfolk advancing to the semifinal round. Each team lost one game with Schuylkill River and Norfolk as the top seeds. In the semifinals, Schuylkill River defeated NOVA, 19-5, and the Maryland Exiles shut out Norfolk, 33-0.

The final pitted Schuylkill River against the Maryland Exiles, who faced off earlier in the day. The Exiles came out on top in the close battle, 17-12. Schuylkill River got on the board first with a try off a five-meter penalty by Tim Acker, and the ensuing conversion was missed.

The Exiles answered back when Akinola Raymond touched the ball down in the center after a 70-meter run around the corner. The conversion was good and Exiles went into halftime with a 7-5 lead.

When the second half whistle blew, it was all Exiles. The Exiles scored three tries in the half and their defense shut down Schuylkill’s attack. Raymond scored his second try of the day and Alfred Qaranivalu scored after a great fake. Mateo Arévalo ended the scoring of the match with a 40-meter try. The Exiles converted all of their second half kicks to win the tournament, 28-5.

Norfolk defeated NOVA 21-15 to win the third-place game of the men’s premier division. The men’s open final also featured the Exiles against Schuylkill River with the Exiles winning in a runaway, 33-0. The women’s division ended with the DC Furies defeating NOVA, 20-15.

On the effort his team showed in the tournament, the Maryland Exiles coach Chris Mahony said, “We came here hoping to do as well as we possibly could to win both divisions with both teams. We’re really happy to achieve that. It’s really just a result of the guys working really hard. They are putting a lot of fitness work during the week and it really showed. It really got us over the line at key times for both teams.” 

PoolSchuylkill River27Washington Blue5
PoolBaltimore Chesapeake24NOVA7
PoolMaryland Exiles36Rocky Gorge5
PoolSchuylkill River38Raleigh0
PoolWashington Blue17Rocky Gorge7
PoolNorfolk26Baltimore Chesapeake19
PoolMaryland Exiles17Schuylkill River12
PoolRaleigh26Washington Blue19
PoolPittsburgh24Baltimore Chesapeake7
PoolMaryland Exiles27Raleigh0
PoolNorfolk21Washington0 (Forfeit)
PoolSchuylkill River28Rocky Gorge7
PoolMaryland Exiles24Washington Blue12
PoolRocky Gorge26Raleigh10
PoolBaltimore Chesapeake21Washington0 (Forfeit)
SemifinalsMaryland Exiles36Norfolk0
SemifinalsSchuylkill River19NOVA5
FinalMaryland Exiles28Schuylkill River5
Mid-Atlantic Qualifier StandingsPointsWilmingtonRocky GorgeNOVA
Maryland Exiles61st
Schuylkill River42nd