GLENDALE, COLO. - After receiving over 50 declarations in the 2021 National 7s Intent to Participate form, over 40 teams have been invited or pre-qualified to the 2021 USA National Rugby 7s Tournament by the 7s Championship Committee.
Teams currently invited or pre-qualified will have until July 5 at 11:59 PM to confirm their official entry via payment of their entry fee, which is set to cover the costs of competition in 2021. The deadline for completion of the Intent to Participate Form has been extended for select women's teams* until July 1, and those teams will have also have until July 5 to complete payment.
As the United States emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic that largely shut down competitive rugby for much of the past year, this year’s National 7s Tournament will be formatted differently from those in the past. Constructed as an invitation-qualification hybrid event, the goal is to see as many teams possible at this year’s capstone event.
WIth that in mind, this year's tournament will be divided between the Signes Cup championship tier and the secondary Silver Cup tier. The teams that win the Signes Cup shall have their names listed alongside the previous national champions dating back to 1985.
The 7s Championship Committee initially identified criteria to 'pre-qualify' teams to the Signes Cup tier that regularly participate in the National 7s Tournament, so as to cut down on travel costs early and encourage participation. That criteria includes teams that:
Other teams that declared their intent to participate in either tier have the right to participate in the Silver Cup tier, and the 7s Championship Committee will review their summer 2021 results for inclusion in the Signes Cup tier.
For the 2021 National 7s Tournament, it is expected that the Signes Cup tier will feature between 16 and 24 teams for both the men's and women's competitions, with an additional 12 to 16 teams competing in the men's Silver Cup competition. As of June 28, it seems likely the women's competition will be a single tier (the Signes Cup) after the 7s Championship Committee received fewer Intent to Participate declarations from the women's community.
The full list of teams invited to participate, with a breakdown of their category, is as follows:
Category A: Pre-Qualified - Signes: This list of teams meets the criteria for pre-qualification to the Signes Cup competition, filled out their Intent to Particate Form, are invited to participate accordingly.
Category B-1: TBD - Signes or Silver: This list of men's teams has declared its intent to participate in either tier of competition and will have its 2021 tournament results reviewed by the 7s Championship Committee prior to August 1 for final determination of competition tier.
Category B-2: Signes Invited: These women's teams do not meet the pre-qualification requirements but filled out their Intent to Participate Form and are being invited to participate in the Signes Cup tier due to the low likelihood of there being two women's tiers of competitions in 2021.
Category C: Silver Cup only: This list of teams have either declared they are only interested in participating in the Silver Cup competition, or they are only eligible for the Silver Cup competition due to their eligibility status.
Category D: Only if Signes Qualified: This list of teams have declared they are only interested in participating if they qualify for the Signes Cup tier of competition. These teams may have their entry fee paid for by their union and will be able to advance at the end of their 2021 competition if they win their qualifying series.
Invited and pre-qualified teams will receive an email informing of them of their status and shall have until July 5 at 11:59 pm to register via payment of their entry fee.
*The deadline has been extended for any women's 7s team that participated in the 2019, 2018, or 2017 National 7s Championship event but did not complete their Intent to Participate form prior to June 24 at 11:59 PM. Teams that meet the pre-qualification criteria will be given the first chance to complete registration, followed by teams that participated in the finals in any way during 2017-2019.
GLENDALE, COLO. – Starfire Sports in Tukwila, Washington, home of MLR’s Seattle Seawolves, has been selected as the venue for the 2021 USA National Rugby 7s Tournament, to be held August 13-15. The tournament shall be presented by the Washington Athletic Club, who is the event’s primary sponsor.
Located just south of Seattle along the banks of the Green River, Starfire was previously the host of the 2014 National 7s Championship – which was the first major rugby event to be held in the venue. The 2014 event was also considered one of the most successful versions of the tournament, as it featured full stands, tightly-competitive matches, and an environment like no other. The complex features a 4,500-seat stadium as well as 11 other outdoor fields and is located just 4 miles from the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport – which in 2019 was the nation’s 8th busiest airport.
The National 7s Tournament is critical event in the landscape of American rugby. First started in 1985, the tournament has been the launching pad for numerous 7s standouts, including the two-time World Rugby Men’s Sevens Player of the Year, Perry Baker (Daytona Beach Coconuts / 1823 Rugby), and current USA Women’s 7s co-captain Abby Gustaitis (Northern Virginia Rugby).
“Over half the Eagles in the 2016 Olympics played in the National 7s Tournament – and many of them were first discovered there,” noted Erik Geib, who serves as the National Competitions Committee Chair that coordinates all club competitions. “And in 2018, every single player on the Men’s 7s team that won the Vegas stop on the World Series had played at the National 7s.”
The National 7s Tournament is also the marquis tournament for summer rugby competition in the U.S., as thousands of college players pour into 7s programs to participate in qualifiers for the event. This was further emphasized by Geib, who previously served as USA Rugby’s Club Department Manager and interim COO, as well as one of two Competition Managers for the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco.
“The college-to-club connection that is created from summer 7s is a really special thing,” Geib continued. “I believe that club rugby is the backbone of rugby in the United States, and to see clubs get stronger from these competitions is a win for everyone.”
The Washington Athletic Club, which sponsors both men’s & women’s 7s teams (including the 2019 Men’s National Champions), as well as college rugby’s prestigious Scholz and Sorensen awards, will serve as the event’s presenting partner. Hosting efforts are being led locally by Tony Ridnell, who is serving as the host committee’s Tournament Director.
“We are delighted to host the Club 7s Championships in Seattle this year,” commented Ridnell, a former CEO who has been based in the Seattle community for decades. “Coming out of the pandemic, we all want to see quality rugby and more importantly – quality events. Starfire Sports is a proven host facility, and the City of Tukwila has become a significant rugby contributor in recent years. Thanks as well to the Washington Athletic Club (WAC) for their continued support of rugby in the Pacific Northwest.”
Ridnell, a former Eagle who played in three Rugby World Cups, also played for legendary USA Rugby coach Emil Signes, whose name adorns the signature trophy for the event. Signes is remarkable in that he coached both the men and women’s national teams, and he was arguably instrumental in Rugby Sevens becoming an Olympic sport through his continuous advocacy of treating the women’s game as equal to the men’s.
As the United States emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic that has largely shut down competitive rugby for much of the past year, this year’s National 7s Tournament will be formatted differently from those in the past. Constructed as an invitation-qualification hybrid event, the goal is to see as many teams possible at this year’s capstone event.
“Our premise is to encourage participation by expanding the number of teams that play in the National 7s Tournament using an Open / Invitational concept,” stated Howard Kent, the Men’s National 7s Coordinator on the National Competitions Committee. “All teams that preregister for the 7s National 7s Tournament and make the effort to play in qualifying 7s tournaments are in the pathway for entry in the final. The top men’s & women’s teams will play in an upper tier competition at Nationals for the Signes Cup. The remaining teams that preregister for the National 7s Competition and qualify would play in a lower tier for the Silver Cup. Over time, this model should improve the quality on competition and depth of participation.”
Kent previously served as USA Rugby’s National 7s Commissioner and is serving with Scion Rugby founder Joanne Liu as co-chair of the National 7s Working Group for this year’s event.
Teams that are interested in competing at this year’s National 7s Tournament must complete the National 7s Competition Team Enrollment Form, also known as the National Intent to Participate Form, by June 23. Eligibility regulations & more information for this year’s event is available at usa7s.rugby or usaclub7s.com.