This weekend 60 teams from all over the nation will descend on Cary, NC to compete in the Men’s and Women’s 7s National Championship. This is the largest field to date and offers some pretty exciting matches for the diehard or new fan.
Before we get into the bulk of the article here are the men’s pools for Division 1.
Pool A: Central Washington, New England College, South Carolina, Kennesaw State
Pool B: Lindenwood, Cal-Poly, St. Bonaventure, Fordham
Pool C: St. Mary’s College, Arkansas, Alabama, West Virginia
Pool D: American International, San Diego State, Oklahoma, Bowling Green
Pool E: Davenport, TAMU, Iowa, James Madison
Pool F: Arizona State, Notre Dame College, North Texas, Wyoming
2016 Runner up St. Mary’s College highlights pool C and is expected to be a contender this year but there are a few teams that could make some noise this weekend. James Madison, winners of the 2015 D2 College 7s national championship and New England College, winners of the 2015 Champions Cup in the NSCRO (rugby’s “division 3”), will both look to contend. NEC getting Central Washington on Day 1 is a tough draw but the team has performed well this tournament season.
Quick Picks: Central Washington, NEC, Lindenwood, St. B’s, SMC, Arkansas, AIC, SDSU, James Madison, Davenport, Notre Dame College, Arizona State.
Editors Note: I may have a slight bias with this article as I am a former player of one of these schools but will try my best to keep everything neutral.
The most interesting tournament in my opinion will happen on the smaller scale in Men’s Division II. The 16 team tournament features Wisconsin-Whitewater and Minnesota-Duluth, both of whom have made many 15s finals over the last few years, as well as Principia College who is looking to win the title again (first was in 2013). Whitewater came in second last year and no doubt has a sour taste in their mouth and will be looking to finish it all this year.
Pool A: Wisconsin-Whitewater, Coast Guard, UNC-Wilmington, UTSA
Pool B: Minnesota-Duluth, Principia, Tulane, Niagara
Pool C: St. Louis, Lindenwood-Belleville, Umass-Lowell, Wisconsin-Eau Claire
Pool D: Salisbury, The Citadel, Salve Regina, Rowan
Looking at each of the pools the one overarching fact is that anyone can win this tournament. Whitewater does have two tournament wins under their belt with Minnesota-Duluth being a runner up in one and Lindenwood-Belleville being the other runner up, but the talent is spread out all across the board. L-B, UM-Duluth, UW-Whitewater, Principia and St. Louis all played each other in tournaments this season which sets them up well for an exciting weekend of play.
Turning our attention to the schools in the Northeast; Salve, UMass-Lowell, and Coast Guard which unfortunately were spread out into three different pools you’ll see something very interesting occur. Salve being the smallest school in this tournament will make some waves. They also only have a male enrollment of 827 in the university, this smaller selection pool for the rugby team means they are this weekends David to the state school Goliath. They recently played against UMass-Lowell and Coast Guard, splitting the friendly 1-1 and qualified with a cracking performance in the CCRC 7s qualifer shutting out 4 teams and beating Wheaton 38-14 and Endicott 28-14. For that tournament, their point differential was +121. The team is young and very rugby smart and are expected to do big things this weekend.
UMass-Lowell will also give St. Louis and Lindenwood-Belleville a run for their money being a tough nosed team who will capitalize on any weak point that their opponents show them.
Quick Picks: Wisconsin-Whitewater, UTSA, Minnesota-Duluth, Principia, St. Louis, UMass-Lowell, Salve Regina, The Citadel.
I unfortunately don’t follow women’s rugby enough to report my thoughts on it. I know Life University will be in attendance and they are always a fun team to watch so watch out for them. Penn State has won the last two titles and a three-peat would be cool to see, sinbinsports officially is jumping on the bandwagon of Penn State Women’s rugby sevens as well as the Life University Running Eagles.
I’ll be very reactionary this weekend on social media. You all know where to find me.