A pair of powerhouse clubs out of Atlanta took the first Southern Conference 7s qualifier this weekend in Nashville, Tennessee. The Atlanta Harlequins defeated Phoenix Rugby (Florida), 19-17 in the Music City 7s Women's Final, while Old White defeated an emerging Southern Pines side, 34-21 in the Men's Final.
After taking a year off from sevens, Atlanta Old White started their day by defeating hosts Nashville, 42-7, before falling to Southern Pines in their second match of the day, 21-12. A bounce-back win over Legion of Doom, 36-12, advanced Old White into the semi-finals, however, where they defeated last year's South champion, Charlotte Rugby, 26-19. Old White then re-faced Southern Pines and, when it mattered most, took the victory to win the tournament. Old White has previously qualified for the Club 7s National Championship 7 times in the past 13 years, finishing as high as 6th in both 2009 and 2010. With one tournament to go, and only 1 seed for the Southern men, Old White is in a great position to qualify for Nationals. Their Music City 7s final opponent, Southern Pines, is a relative newcomer to Club 7s, though it has impressively advanced deep in the D3 and D2 XVs playoffs the past two years, and Charlotte and Memphis are not ones to be overlooked either.
In the women's division, the Atlanta Harlequins, who participate in the Women's Premier League in XVs, looked dominant in their first pool match against Nashville, winning 43-0. Twihe Quins received a scare from the Pineapple Gang in their second match, however, only winning 22-15, and stumbled completely in its last pool match versus Phoenix, which it lost 21-14. Much like Old White's path, this put the Harlequins in the way of the defending South champions, Orlando Rugby, for a semi-final match that the Quins were able win by the slimmest of margins, 15-14. Also like Old White's path, this put the Quins into a championship rematch against a pool play foe, where Atlanta was able to avenge their earlier loss to Phoenix and prevail, 19-17. The Harlequins have appeared at the Club 7s National Championship four times in the seven years the women's division has existed, including a 4th-place finish in Pittsburgh in 2013. Phoenix appeared in 2016 but fell short last year, and Orlando has appeared in the last three consecutive finals (2015-2017). With 2 seeds to this year's event, the Southern Conference's final qualifier in Georgia will prove pivotal to deciding who makes the trip to the national final.