The final Mid-Atlantic Rugby Football Union 7s Championship was held in the midst of a sweltering summer heat-wave this past Saturday, June 20; once August comes, MARFU will cease to exist and split into two Geographic Unions: the Capitol Geographic Union comprised of the Potomac and Virginia Rugby Unions and the Eastern Pennsylvania Rugby Union.
The top two teams from this past Saturday’s competition will advance to the National 7s Championship to be held in Pittsburgh on August 10.
Six Men’s Premier teams, eight Women’s and eight Men’s Open Division Clubs converged on the well-maintained pitches at the Princess Anne Sports Complex in Virginia Beach, Va. to determine the last MARFU Champions. The Schuylkill River Men, NOVA Women and Richmond Lion Men all emerged victorious from the games … and the heat.
Temperatures and tempers were running high during the Men’s Premier Division Final between Schuylkill River and NOVA. It was 93 degrees and a dangerous no-wrap tackle along the sideline late in the match precipitated a bit of a dust-up that included several players and at least one coach. Referee Andrew Lin skillfully cooled off the hotheads, including coaches, that ill manners would not be tolerated. Shortly after, a clothesline tackle that Lin characterized as “ the worst I’ve ever seen as a referee” earned NOVA another card and this one was red.
Lin, a Navy Cardiologist and recent transplant from San Diego, Calif., who also plays several positions for US Navy Rugby, had earlier gone into his pocket for a yellow when NOVA’s scrumhalf took out a Schuykill player under the posts after he had grounded the ball for a try. He stated that in his considerable experience as a referee, he had never given a yellow and a red to the same team in the same match.
Before defeating NOVA in the Premier final 19-5, Schuylkill River trounced Columbia, Md. club Rocky Gorge 46-0 in the semifinal after winning the same matchup in pool play by a more manageable 19-0. Earlier they had survived an upset bid from the Norfolk Blues by the close score of 10-5 and topped Pittsburgh 24-0.
Pittsburgh mounted a protest after the match on the basis of Schuylkill’s use of players who had not competed in an earlier Qualifying Tournament. They were rebuffed when MARFU officials on-site determined that all team rostering was done according to the rules. The players in question, Kutztown University standouts Tim Acker and Bruce Dolan, have contributed greatly to the Philadelphia club’s dominance in their division this summer.
The Women’s Rugby clubs of the Mid-Atlantic showed up with their usual collection of Eagles, former Eagles and regional All-stars. Northern Virginia (NOVA) brought two sides to the competition with their A-side taking home the top prize by defeating the Furies of DC in the final 21-10. The NOVA Women are coached by former USA 7s player Dana Creager. Along the way NOVA posted two shutouts early in pool play by beating the Norfolk Sirens by 41 and the Maryland Exiles by 34. They squeezed by the powerful Scion team of DC 17-12 then topped Philadelphia 26-5 in the semifinal.
Men’s Open Club Division play was topped off by a final where the Richmond Lions defeated Schuylkill River’s 2nd side 19-14. Despite being beaten earlier in the day by top-seeded Severn River, Schuylkill II advanced to the final by a one-point advantage in points differential. Richmond had gotten by Severn River earlier in the day by two points, 14-12 and had fallen to Schuylkill II 21-15 in pool play. The Lions also defeated NOVA II 34-5 and the Washington Irish 24-7. With the conclusion of the MARFU 7s Tournament, most of these teams have seen their summer season come to an end.