Article by Alex Solomon | Originally published at usarugby.org
LAFAYETTE, Colo. - Five qualifying events filled a club sevens calendar June 18, as a handful of teams made positive strides on their way to qualifying for the USA Rugby Club 7s National Championships.
FIJI 7S - MIAMI
Miami Rugby's cohort of three teams in the Men's Qualifying field at Fiji sevens did not water down the club's ability to take first place in its hometown event. Two Miami squads advanced from four pools, along with Orlando Rugby and the Naples Hammerheads. Victories by Miami 1 over Orlando and Naples against Miami 2 pitted the two Florida sides against one another in the Cup Final. Having much more in the tank after a long day of sevens, Miami trounced Naples, 57-5, to take first place.
After squaring off twice this year in 15s, Orlando Rugby Women outclassed Fort Miami in the Cup Final of the Women's Qualifying tournament. Like Naples on the men's side of the bracket, Fort Miami appeared to run out of gas in its Final, getting blanked by an impressive Orlando unit, 46-0.
MADTOWN RUGBY 7S - MADISON, WI
The Chicago Lions placed two teams in the top three of the Men's Qualifying bracket at Madtown 7s, including its top side taking first overall. The Lions fended off a field that included the Chicago Griffins, Milwaukee Barbarians, and host Wisconsin Rugby, and eventually downed the Chicago Blaze in the Final.
The Women of 1823 have made it two-for-two at sevens events after taking home the crown in the Women's Madtown qualifier. The Chicago Lions showed well on the women's side, too, but were forced to watch a Final between 1823 and the YoungBloodz, which went the way of the Columbus-based sevens program.
MONMOUTH 7S - LINCROFT, NJ
As predicted, Mystic River and Old Blue of New York squared off in the Cup Final of the Atlantic North's first of four qualifying events. The Final, however, was less predictable as Old Blue was able to put 15 points between itself and the 2016 Men's DI National Champions in 15s. Included in the top half of the eight-team tournament were the Connecticut Bulldogs and New York Athletic Club.
In the Women's Empire tournament, which was a qualifier for the Atlantic North Championship, Old Blue continued it success at Monmouth 7s by placing both its teams in the Women's Final. New York Rugby Club was forced to settle for the Plate, while the Village Lions took home the Bowl.
NOLA 7S - NEW ORLEANS
The 10-team race for True South qualifying points ended in a first-place finish for the New Orleans Royale. An undefeated mark in pool play by the Royale created a Semifinal matchup between New Orleans and its major feeder program - Louisiana State University. The Royale turned back its collegiate counterpart, 45-0, before easily handing another college side, University of Memphis, in the Final, 57-7.
OMBAC 7S - SAN DIEGO
Reigning Pacific South sevens champion Belmont Shore began its summer on the front foot by outlasting an extremely competitive field at OMBAC 7s.
Pool play victories of the Glendale Raptors and San Diego Tunas handed Belmont Shore a Cup Quarterfinal fixture against Pasadena Rugby, which went the way of the three-time National Champions, 26-5. Belmont continued its excellent form in the Semifinals, downing the Orange County Ravens by five points.
Waiting for Belmont Shore in the Final were the Glendale Raptors, a team visiting from the Frontier Region. The Raptors impressively defeated both Santa Monica and Old Mission Beach Athletic Club in the knockout rounds to reach the Final. However, Glendale could not keep up with fellow Pacific Rugby Premiership club Belmont Shore, and the boys from Long Beach took first place with a convincing, 28-7, Cup win.