Only one change in this week's women's power rankings, but the half-way point of the year is a good time to reflect on the rankings as they stand and why teams are ranked the way they are. We usually don't see a lot of surprising results in the women's community until Nationals, so don't expect too much movement until the second weekend in August.
1. Washington Athletic (Seattle, Washington)
Last Ranked: 1
Current Standing: N/A (Pacific Northwest qualifiers haven't started)
The corps of players who put on Seattle Atavus jerseys and took home gold last year are looking to do the same in WAC branding this year. Until proven otherwise, we see no reason to knock them out of the top spot, as this is a team featuring a very competitive high-performance environment and a depth of roster rarely challenged.
2. Life West Gladiatrix (Hayward, California)
Last Ranked: 2
Current Standing: NCRFU #1
After winning a bronze medal last year, Life West has reloaded and is looking to make another deep run. They'll certainly be battle-tested, as they play in the nation's toughest women's region, featuring teams such as Berkeley, WAC, and ORSU. The Gladiatrix defeated the All Blues 22-20 in their first encounter and will be looking to repeat that performance at the second NCRFU qualifier before the Pacific North Championship in Tacoma on July 28.
3. Scion Sirens (Washington, District of Columbia)
Last Ranked: 3
Current Standing: Mid-Atlantic #1
Scion finished fourth last year after winning it all in 2016, and draws from a region with more women's players than anywhere else. Joanne Liu's program has come a long way from their last-place performance in 2013, and is now one of the nation's top club academy programs. In their first two qualifiers, Scion has had little trouble winning, and should be a lock for a top seed at Nationals in New York City.
4. New York Rugby (New York, New York)
Last Ranked: 4
Current Standing: Northeast #1
New York may actually be under-rated at the #4 spot. NYRC blew out its competition in Newport (their closest margin of victory was 24 points, and they beat second-place Beantown 41-7), and is coming off a successful 2017 where the club won the Women's Premier League and finished 5th at Club 7s. With a hometown crowd ready to cheer them on in New York City, we'd be shocked if NYRC didn't make the National Semi-Finals this year.
5. American Rugby Pro Blue (Little Rock, Arkansas)
Last Ranked: 5
Current Standing: Red River #1
After years of cruising through qualifiers, ARPTC split into two squads this year (Blue and White) and may well qualify both teams. The 'Blue' squad seems to be the stronger of the two based on Bloodfest 7s results, but we don't have perfect insight as to how the rosters were split. The program, founded by former national team coach Jules McCoy, has turned Little Rock into an annual destination for the top women's players in the country to challenge and improve themsleves each summer.
6. San Diego Surfers (San Diego, California) *QUALIFIED FOR NATIONALS*
Last Ranked: 6
Current Standing: Pacific South #1
The Surfers are once again the Pacific South champions, and have qualified for the Club 7s National Championship for the 8th time in history (note: there have only been 8 women's national championships; only San Diego and NOVA have appeared in the all of the previous 7). Even though they took home silver medals last year, it's expected that the Rugby World Cup 7s in San Francisco will be taking away some of their depth, so their ranking remains at #6 until they show up at Nationals and prove us wrong.
7. Rocky Mountain Magic (Denver, Colorado)
Last Ranked: 7
Current Standing: N/A (Frontier qualifiers haven't started)
Call them what you want: Glendale Raptors, Rocky Mountain Selects, Rocky Mountain Squids, Glendale Merlins, or... Rocky Mountain Magic (?). This team features the same corps of 7s-dedicated women in the greater Denver/Glendale area, and they're going to be deadly for anyone to overlook. A tough pool and an unlucky tiebreaker sent them into the Bowl last year, where they went on a rampage to take the Bowl Championship and finish the event 5-1. This year, they've already shown themselves to be dangerous in a runner-up finish to ARPTC Blue at Bloodfest 7s. Ultimately, it comes down to if they'll be battle-ready enough come August.
8. Metropolis Rugby (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
Last Ranked: 8
Current Standing: Midwest #1
Metropolis is now sponsoring the outfit of players that previously wore the Minneapolis Rugby 7s and YoungBloodz jerseys, and the Metro women matched their male counterparts win-for-win in taking the Firehouse 7s championship. The Midwest typically sees strong first teams make the Cup Quarter-finals and a weaker second team make the Bowl Quarter-Finals, and Metro is probably flirting with the region's usual success in obtaining a #8 ranking at this time.
9. Oregon Sports Union (West Linn, Oregon)
Last Ranked: 9
Current Standing: N/A (Pacific Northwest qualifiers haven't started)
ORSU was a victim of the Pacific North only having 2 seeds last year, but this year they'll be fighting with 3 other strong programs for the new allotment of three. Tragically, one team will still miss out to give the tournament some semblance of geographical balance, but ORSU is probably a *tad* better than Berkeley, if we had to guess today. Roy Lucas 7s, one of the nation's best tournaments (and one ORSU hosts) should be a good indicator for what this team's ceiling truly is.
10. Berkeley All Blues (Berkeley, California)
Last Ranked: 10
Current Standing: NCRFU #2
The nation's most dominant women's program in history faced a new challenge when it didn't make it to Nationals last year. Previously, they'd never so much as failed to qualify for a Cup Quarter-Final, and they won the event in both 2011 and 2013 when stars like Team USA Captain Kelly Griffin led the way. With the PacNorth back to 3 seeds, Berkeley is going to be scrapping until the end to re-establish themselves as a team deserving of its place in the sunshine of New York City.
11. Beantown Rugby (Boston, Massachusetts)
Last Ranked: 11
Current Standing: Northeast #2
Beantown finished 11th at Club 7s last year, and is estimated to be on track to do similar this year. The WPL program draws most of the top players from New England on an annual basis, but will need to ramp it up if they're to overcome regional rival New York and make a name for themselves at the championship. Beantown only struggled to beat cross-town rival Boston at Newport 7s (7-5), but wasn't even close to taking down NYRC.
12. Atlanta Harlequins (Atlanta, Georgia) *QUALIFIED FOR NATIONALS*
Last Ranked: 12
Current Standing: Southern #1
The Harlequins emerge from a region that is way tougher than everyone thinks (Orlando and Charlotte, who failed to qualify, are not programs to overlook; Phoenix, who did qualify, is very solid). Atlanta has appeared at Nationals four times previously but only finished higher than 7th once, and finished 14th last year. With a lot of time to prepare, the Harlequins will either sink or swim in New York City.
13. Northern Virgnia Rugby (Arlington, Virginia)
Last Ranked: 13
Current Standing: Mid-Atlantic #3
One of only two programs to always make it to Nationals, NOVA looks poised to do so again this year. With one qualifier to go, all they have to do is not finish last *and* have Philly win the tournament, which seems unlikely. A surprising third-place finish at the first Mid-Atlantic qualifier signals either trouble in Northern Virginia or the reemergence of the Furies. We can't tell which is true, but give NOVA the nod ahead of D.C. based on finishing second in the last qualifier.
14. Cincinnati Rugby (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Last Ranked: 14
Current Standing: Midwest #2
Cincinnati surprised some when they finished second at the Firehouse 7s, but the finish is the result of a lot of hard work in building this program. The Cincy Kelts XVs program went to the Division II National Quarter-Finals this year, and the Cincy 7s program finished 5th in last year's Midwest 7s series prior to the Midwest Championship. If they can maintain momentum, they'll enter the Cin City 7s Midwest final on July 28 with a lot to play for in front of their hometown fans.
15. Phoenix Rugby (Miami, Florida) *QUALIFIED FOR NATIONALS*
Last Ranked: 15
Current Standing: Southern #2
Eyal Hakim's program made their first appearance at Nationals in 2016, and came up just short of qualifying out of the Southern Conference last season after a quality Orlando side beat them out. 7s focused beyond a single program, the team does feature a lot of Fort Miami XVs players who have dominated the region for years, as well as players from other clubs and colleges. Having beat out both Orlando and Charlotte, it will be interesting to see what sort of team turns up for Phoenix in New York City. A higher-ranked team could overlook them in pool play and wind up regretting it.
16. D.C. Furies (Washington, D.C.)
Last Ranked: 17
Current Standing: Mid-Atlantic #2
The Furies were the talk of the women's community after taking second at the first Mid-Atlantic qualifier, but now find themselves battling NOVA for second overall in the MAC with one tournament to go. This is a big year for the program as a whole (XVs and 7s), so a lot of momentum in 7s could turn into a lot of success for the team in WPL play this Fall. Much like NOVA, the Furies would have to finish fourth and see Philly win in the last qualifier to not make Nationals, which is unlikely.
17. San Diego Boogie Boarders (San Diego, California)
Last Ranked: 16
Current Standing: Pacific South #2
The Boogie Boarders are a new program from San Diego featuring loads of talented players with Surfer and Eagle pedigrees. Unfortunately, they came up just short in a region that only has 1 seed (after PacSouth #2 finished 16th in both 2017 and 2016). If the region regains its seed, look for this team do a lot of damage in 2019, as their ability to play the Surfers close should be a warning to anyone who overlooks them.
18. Chicago Lions (Chicago, Illinois)
Last Ranked: 18
Current Standing: Midwest #3
The Chicago Lions currently sit just outside of qualifying position. They've previously qualified for four of the last five Nationals events but may be affected by the return of Chicago North Shore to the Midwest 7s Series. With three tournaments to go, they have plenty of time to catch Metro and/or Cincy, but they sit at 18th for now due to their standing in the Midwest.
19. Orlando Rugby (Orlando, Florida)
Last Ranked: 19
Current Standing: Southern #3
Orlando is usually firing on all cylinders by the end of the summer but, unfortunately for them, the Southern Conference finished its qualifying season on June 16 before most of the country even started. Coupled with strong regional parity, there was too much to overcome in a short period, and Orlando 3-appearance streak of making it to Nationals has been broken. Look for the women in orange and blue to come back stronger in 2019.
20. Boston Rugby (Boston, Massachusetts)
Last Ranked: 20
Current Standing: Northeast #3
Boston is currently just outside of a qualifying position, and will have to take-down crosstown rival Beantown if they want to go to New York City for Nationals. Boston only lost to Beantown 7-5 at Newport 7s, so anything is possible, however. If they can make it in, they may be in for a hard road, as powerhouse New York Rugby didn't allow them to get very close - and NYRC is indicative of the talent lurking at the top of Nationals pools.
Honorable Mentions: ARPTC White, Austin Valkyries, Chicago North Shore, Empire Rugby, Grand Rapids Rugby, Houston Athletic, Kansas City Jazz, Philadelphia Rugby, Santa Barbara Academy, Tempe Ninjas