Article by Chad Wise | Originally published at usarugby.org
BOULDER, Colo. - James W. Cownie Soccer Complex in Des Moines, Iowa, will host the 2015 USA Rugby Emirates Airline Club 7s National Championships Aug. 8-9.
The domestic championship event for the Olympic version of Rugby Sevens has previously been held at Founder's Field in Pittsburgh and, most recently, Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, Wash. The natural grass fields at James W. Cownie Soccer Complex will be turned into a rugby haven for 16 men's and 16 women's teams seeking hardware.
With the backing of Des Moines Area Sports Commission and the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Des Moines Rugby Foundation's thorough bid to host Club 7s was superior to that of other bids submitted to USA Rugby.
"The hard work dedicated to the development of Midwest rugby was evident in the professionalism of the bid submitted from the Des Moines Area Sports Commission and the Des Moines rugby community," USA Rugby National Championships Series and Competitions Manager James Wilber said. "Honored by these efforts, USA Rugby is thrilled to be taking the Club 7s National Championships to Iowa for the first time during quite possibly the most exciting time in the history of USA Rugby sevens."
"We were thrilled to learn that USA Rugby will be holding the Men's and Women's Club 7s National Championships in Des Moines August 8-9, 2015," Catch Des Moines President and Chief Executive Officer Greg Edwards said. "This is another first-time event for our metro and will bring 32 teams and 1,200 to 1,500 visitors to Des Moines. A great example of our local Des Moines Rugby Club, Des Moines Area Sports Commission, and Des Moines Parks and Rec teaming together to make this happen."
The complex features 12 outdoor fields, including a stadium field with bleachers to seat 2,000 spectators. Club 7s matches will be played on two fields with live streaming available on USA Rugby TV. Further broadcast and commentator details will be released in due course.
Major cities within a 700-mile radius of Des Moines include Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, and Nashville, while Des Moines International Airport features seven airlines with nonstop flights to/from Los Angeles, New York City, and more.
"Iowa is unique in its commitment to Olympic rugby sevens," Des Moines Rugby Foundation Chairman Bill Reed said. "It is an honor to see USA Rugby partnering with Catch Des Moines, Des Moines Rugby Foundation, and Des Moines Rugby Club to bring our nation's top Olympic rugby teams to one of our nation's best cities just weeks after both of our men's and women's teams qualified for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
Club 7s will be the first USA Rugby championship event to be held in the state of Iowa, but the most recent in a lengthy list of high-quality events hosted in the Midwest region of the country. Wisconsin Rugby Club hosted the 2014 USA Rugby Emirates Airline Club National Championships at the historic Breese Stevens Field to the delight of the traveling clubs.
Seattle Saracens won a seventh Club 7s National Championship in the men's bracket last year, breaking the record of six titles, while San Diego Surfers hoisted the women's trophy in Seattle. Numerous Olympic hopefuls, such as Irene Gardner, Phaidra Knight, Rocco Mauer, and Ben Pinkelman, participated in last year's event, and several current Eagles have played for a Club 7s championship in the past.
Sanctioned qualification tournaments will be held throughout the summer, with a list of qualified teams to be finalized prior to August.