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The USA 7s Collegiate Rugby Championship Qualifier brought us 32 teams ready to face off for one spot – just one – at the CRC in June.
It was a perfect opportunity for RUGBYMag.com to look at the relative strengths of college 7s teams and revisit our rankings.
This ranking, unlike the one at the end of 2011, measures current form (or as close to current form as we can measure it). The results of 2010-2011 have some bearing but not a lot.
What we have seen over time is that more college teams are becoming smart 7s teams. They aren’t just cruising along on a breeze made up of good athletes – they are more tactically aware, and their 7s skills are improving.
The big movers are Davenport, who jump from nowhere to #4. We figured they’d be good when they took 7s seriously, and they are.
The big movers coming up? Probably Cal, Dartmouth and Arizona, who are all expected to show well at the CRC this June. Life, #1 right now, will be there, too.
RUGBYMag.com College 7s Rankings Feb 16, 2012
1. (1) Life. Won the USA Rugby tournament, and then the CRC Qualifier. Can’t argue with those results.
2. (9) Utah. Looked superb in Las Vegas, and were just a hair away. Remember they were 3rd in the 2011 CRC, losing only to Dartmouth and Army. Yes they lost to Colorado in the Pac 12 7s, but all these losses have been really close. In the end, they’ve logged a series of strong results.
3. (3) Arkansas State. Possibly the second-best team in the country. Didn’t go to Vegas.
4. (Unr) Davenport. Actually a very good team 7s program. We figured they might be, but in the fall couldn’t discount a sub-par Midwest 7s effort. But we were not surprised the Panthers brought a better product to Las Vegas.
5 (2) Dartmouth. Dartmouth has graduated a couple of key players. They have also added some top talent. They could easily become 1st again – they haven’t changed their coach.
6 (4) Army. Graduated perhaps their best 7s player in Ben Leaatigaga, but Will Holder is still there, and the Cadets improved dramatically from 2010 to 2011, so we figure they will again.
7 (5) Central Washington. Lost to Utah after blowing out their pool. One of those classic stories – easy pool can mean tough times in knockout rounds.
8 (6) St. Mary's. One lost at USA Rugby nationals. To Central Washington. Could easily argue a higher place.
9 (7) BYU. No new information.
10 (23) San Diego State. Possibly the most improved team other than Davenport. Started slowly in Vegas but got better and better as time went on. Lost to Life 12-10 in tournament quarterfinals.
11 (8) Kutztown. Played really well in Las Vegas and lost only the one match, a semi against Life 19-5.
12 (10) Miami (OH). Outstanding, big, physical team that doesn’t rely on the physical. Lost by just a hair to Kutztown in Las Vegas.
13 (16) Cal. OK, what to do about Cal. Here’s what we think – Cal in June will be ten times better than Cal was last fall. There is no doubt that the Bears, with plenty of time to prepare, will show well in Philadelphia. That’s why they are ranked here.
14 (11) Colorado
15 (19) UCLA. Like a lot of teams in Las Vegas, they played better 7s than they did in the supposed “official” 7s season in the fall. Why? Because they had some time and some preparation. It just goes to show that springing a new thing on colleges and clubs doesn’t help anyone. It also reinforces what many believe, that you have to be very careful about what is the right time to play college 7s.
Las Vegas in February is an excellent time for a national championship. October is pretty good, too.
16 (Unr) Stony Brook
17 (Unr) Stanford. Stony Brook and Stanford played in Vegas, and get a little bump for that. They also played well, with Stanford edging Cal Poly in one match.
18 (15) Cal Poly. Just barely lost to UCLA.
19 (12) Arizona
20 (13) Tennessee
21 14. UC Davis
22 (17) Navy
23 (18) LSU
24 (20) Texas A&M
25 (21) Wisconsin
26 (Unr) Western Washington
27 (24) Penn State
28. (22) Oklahoma
29 (25) NC State
30 (Unr) Buffalo