It’s still very early in the club 7s season, so results may end up throwing these team names in a blender and spitting out a completely different order by the end of the summer. Several teams are still solidifying their rosters and few have actually fielded their strongest sides. The South hasn’t played a single meaningful tournament, yet, and other territories are just one or two qualifiers in.
The Chicago Lions are the only team in the country to win more than one qualifier so far this season, and they’re always really good, so they top the list. Guys like Tanner Barnes, Max Narewski and Peter Tiberio, along with several of Chicago’s usual suspects, make the Lions a threat to win it all, yet again.
Belmont Shore won Southern California’s first qualifier and left a lot of firepower off the van to the second tournament in Tempe. Mikey Te’o is returning from the Junior World Cup, and rumor has it he is carrying some kind of injury. If he gets back on the pitch for Belmont this summer, he’ll bolster an already strong group led by Peter Sio, Tai Enosa, Ed Pitts, Jack Tracy, Riaan Hamilton, etc.
1823 is the highest ranking team that isn’t sitting in first in its territory. That’s because the Knights are second in what we think is the toughest region in the country – the Midwest. The emergence of Wisconsin, along with the always tough Youngbloodz, Milwaukee and Lions, has the Midwest looking like a gauntlet.
The second best territory? Might be SoCal, which has Belmont, the Old Aztecs (carrying Justin Boyd, Ben Nicholls and Dylan Carrion) and Santa Monica and OMBAC.
But it might also be the West. The Denver Barbarians, which are perennially one of the top teams in the country, traveled to Houston light for the first qualifier, but they still had the likes of Max DeAchaval, Ben Haapapuro and Logan Collins, and they finished fifth.
The Blues played the best team rugby in the first event, but WE Rugby, formerly the Woodlands Exiles, are probably the most talented team. They have a very large contingent from the National Champion Arkansas State 7s team, and it’s getting bigger next time with Zac Mizell, Shaun Potgieter and Pat Sullivan coming in from the All American tour. Throw in Alfred Qaranivalu, Hunter Leland, Brian Guillen and Chris Saint, and you have an awful lot of All Americans and talented players playing on one team.
Don’t overlook Glendale, either. Dewon Reed played lights out for the Raptors in Texas, and Preston Bryant is really good. The surrounding cast is more than solid, too.
So we rank all five of the top teams from the West, the top six from the Midwest, the top four from SoCal and the Mid-Atlantic and the top two from the Northeast. We also give SFGG and the Sacramento Lions credit for good showings in an early tourney in Northern California, and Hawaii’s Titan RFC props for qualifying for Nationals.
Though Old Puget Sound Beach hasn't played yet, it's hard to imagine a scenario where that club's not in the mix for Nationals, so we give them the benefit of the doubt.
||Kansas City Blues
||Old Puget Sound Beach