All the talk in Northeast 7s club circles, at least on RUGBYMag.com, has been about how great the Boston club is.
That’s not inaccurate, Boston is very strong, but it’s easy to forget Middlesex. Under coach Josh Smith the club has been folding in local college players (often from schools you don’t associate with college championships) with experienced clubmembers to form a strong program.
“We’re pretty happy with the progression,” said Smith. “We’ve had a core of seven guys for three or four years now. This summer we started putting together a pretty good side, and after the first time we decided we’d go into the qualifiers, and if we get beat up we get beat up.”
They finished second to Boston in the South Shore tournament, and from then they split the social and qualifier groups and started to chase a place at the national champions.
“We have a lot of guys working hard and pushing for that last spot in the Qualifier team, so that’s been really good,” said Smith. “We had some guys taking the summer off because we finished our 15s season in late May. But several of those guys came back to play as it became clear we were building something. So the competition to get into that group of 12 for the Qualifier team or that 24th spot in the social team has really elevated our game.”
Fifteens flanker and 7s prop John Cocinda has been the leader of the forwards. His fitness is outstanding and tackling almost perfect.
“He’s the guy who gets our defense going,” said Smith.
Two local college products Vini Daley and Jared Collinson have been the go-to men in the backs. Both are in their third summer playing 7s for Middlesex. Collinson is now the captain of the team.
“For a young group of guys they are very mature,” said Smith. “Nobody went into Hell’s Gate [the NRU championships] thinking this was the last tournament of the summer. We were thinking San Francisco.”
An unknown team that played smart team defense and makes their tackles. It’s not a flashy group, but it’s one that can sneak up on people.
“We’re going to see some great players, but we’ve already played against some great players,” said Smith, “and I think we’re going to turn some heads.”