Notre Dame is hosting a 7s tournament Saturday, and the Irish are welcoming a pretty competitive field – Lindenwood, Davenport, Illinois and Western Michigan.
Notre Dame will be trying to carry on some momentum from their best finish at the Collegiate Rugby Championship to date.
Illinois has some really quality backs, and their captain, John Huguelet, has experience playing for the Chicago Lions 7s team.
Western Michigan competes regularly each summer on the Midwest 7s circuit, so the Broncos may be the most 7s-experienced team in the event.
Davenport is looking to get back to Nationals, where they posted an unimpressive 17th-place finish. The Panthers were in a really tough pool with Delaware, San Diego State and Lindenwood, in which they went 0-3, but they rebounded on Day Two to win the Shield with three-straight wins.
JP Eloff is refreshed after taking the summer off, and he’ll be the Panthers’ best player. Dominique Bailey spent the summer playing 7s with the Kansas City Blues. And freshman Sondai Adjei was a High School All American, and he played with Mason Baum on the USA Falcons team at the Serevi RugbyTown 7s.
The Panthers are mired in a serious 15s campaign this fall, playing in the Rugby East towards the American Collegiate Rugby Championship, and they’ve not spent a lot of time training for 7s, but the experience of several of their players could see them compete well Saturday. Davenport is also going to play in a three-team event in Jonesboro, Ark. with Arkansas State and Lindenwood this fall.
Lindenwood, too, has been playing 15s this fall, but the Lions aren’t playing toward a championship or in a league table, unlike Davenport. Lindenwood is banged up, though, as Mickey Bateman was hurt while playing age-grade rugby in New Zealand this summer, and he’ll likely be out until late November. Andrew Quinlivan is injured, too, and Sebastian Kalm is unavailable because of a class he can’t miss.
Still, the Lions will have a talented team. Speedster Mathius Harris is still at Lindenwood, and Morgan Findlay is back healthy. He is one of the most talented college 7s players in the country. Kolton Nelson is an experienced 7s player, too, and Australian freshman Sione Fangaiuiha is a danger to break out in his 7s debut.
“He’s special. He’s a big center,” said Laszewski of the big, fast unit who was being courted by the Canberra Raiders, a professional league team in Australia, before choosing to go to school. “He can step off either foot. He’s a big boy, and he’s good.”