Women’s 7s clubs have a big and busy weekend in front of them, so let’s take a look around the country to see where – and for what – everyone’s playing.
The Santa Barbara 7s has the highest stakes on the table, as the tournament serves as the one and only qualifier for Southern California. The region receives one seed to nationals, and at present, the San Diego Surfers’ first and second sides have proven to be the strongest. The club collectively won the Santa Monica 7s, as both sides advanced to the final.
Eight teams are traveling to this event (including NorCal’s Berkeley All Blues), but SoCal women’s 7s coordinator Diana Henderson indicated that only San Diego and Tempe, and possibly Santa Monica, are vying for seeds. That said, Tempe coach Angel Bishop indicated two weeks ago that it was unlikely the Arizona side would be looking toward Pittsburgh.
As has been the trend the previous two years, women’s club 7s nationals is as much about teams’ resources for travel as it is about pooling the most talented 16 teams in the country.
Heading north up the west coast, the Pacific Northwest is hosting their qualifier at the Can Am 7s in Bellingham, Wash. We expect Seattle and the Emerald City Mudhens to meet in the final, favoring the Breakers to take the top seed.
Seattle has seen a surge in numbers, which is due in large part to the Breakers’ success at nationals last year. Coaches Waisale Serevi, Evan Haigh and Justin Fitzpatrick are at the forefront.
"We have a large number of good-quality college players, and that's good because we will lose some players to the Eagles," said Haigh.
Megan Bonny and Asinate Serevi highlight the core of young talent within Seattle. Bonny got her first 15s caps against France last month, and recent high school grad Serevi is on the USA 7s watch list.
"Nate is going from strength to strength, and she's part of a core group of young players," said Haigh.
The top finishers will move onto the Pacific Coast championships next weekend in Seattle and face the top NorCal teams for the three seeds to nationals. As previously mentioned, Berkeley will be competing at Santa Monica this weekend as a final tune-up before regionals. In all likelihood, we’ll see a rematch of San Diego vs Berkeley in the title match.
The South went unrepresented at nationals last year, and although the region is in slightly better shape this year, the commitment to Pittsburgh evolved late. Tomorrow’s Hotlanta 7s was supposed to act as the South qualifier, but now it looks like Atlanta is the only team willing to travel to Pittsburgh. Up until last weekend, the Harlequins were only playing social 7s, but after trading wins with NOVA and losing a tight one to D.C. Furies at Cape Fear 7s, Atlanta’s mindset changed.
“At Fear, [Southern Exposure coach] Pat [Neder] and I had a meeting with Dre Khoury,” Atlanta’s Ros Chou recounted the discussion with the national women’s 7s coordinator. “She asked for firm answers on the South seed. Southern Exposure decided they didn't have enough players to field a side for nationals so the choice was up to Atlanta. We have officially committed to taking a side to 7s club nationals since we did reasonably well at Fear with just a week of training under our belt. We're sorting out our final roster this week, but hope to be competitive.”
So Hotlanta 7s doesn’t mean anything in terms of qualifying, but some solid sides in Southern Exposure and South All Stars will give the Harlequins good competition as they rally around the build-up to nationals.
The third of four qualifiers will be contested at the Rock ‘n’ Roll 7s in Cleveland. The Chicago Lions and Youngbloodz have distinguished themselves as the teams to beat, but Detroit is far from ruled out of contention. The three will be joined by Pittsburgh in the qualifying division, and they’ll all be vying for one of two seeds to nationals.
There are no qualifiers for the NRU this weekend, but the region’s most popular women’s 7s tournament, Cape Cod 7s, has drawn 20-plus sides to the event. The Cape Cod 7s is particularly exciting, as one sees the breadth of New England rugby. Beantown and Boston in particular have fed a myriad of touring sides – from the Pony Express, to Team Pretty, to BATS (Boston Alumni Touring Side). At any given event, these teams feature Eagles past and present.
The Boston Belles and Beantown, both of which are looking toward nationals, will also be in attendance, as will a healthy amount of college-based teams, like the Falcons, Brown, UConn, UMass, Northeastern and Boston College.
MARFU is the only region that hosts a championship for which teams must qualify through series points. The Cheesesteak 7s marks the final event in which teams may accrue points, but it’s safe to say that NOVA and the D.C. Furies will be taking the top two seeds to next weekend’s championship.
The team to watch, however, is Scion. The team boasts an impressive roster with well knowns like Ida Bernstein and Devin Keller, recently capped Carmen Farmer, and Penn State standouts Elena Cantorna, Bianca Dalal and Maggie Leonard (former PSU wing). We got a glimpse of their potential during the Harrisburg 7s semifinal against the D.C. Furies, and expect better results with more playing time.
Stay tuned for all the results.