The Northeast region hosts its second qualifier for the Women's 7s division this weekend at the Springfield 7s. Nearly a whole new crop of teams will be present compared to last weekend's opener, Jo Jo Moore.
Last weekend, New York went undefeated through the tournament to defeat the Village Lions four tries to nil in the championship. The team looks to be more serious about 7s this season, bringing Phaidra Knight back into the fold to augment a solid lineup containing veterans like Rosalie McGowan, Kath Ryan and Erica Granger.
USA Women 7s assistant coach Jo Kos was on hand both coaching her Albany side and scouting for the NRU team. She's attending the qualifiers with the aim of personally inviting players to tryouts, in hopes of fielding the best squad considering the territory's final year in existence at the All Star 7s. Her best find thus far was New York's Margaret Kwateng, who's booting up with the WPL team while on summer break from Vassar College.
Kwateng has been playing for two years and proved to be a very dangerous scrumhalf in 15s. She caught the eye of USA Women National Coach Pete Steinberg and was invited to the 15s camp later this month. Kos extended an NRU 7s invitation, as well, after the young player proved just as aggressive and speedy on the 7s pitch.
Kwateng will help an improved New York side at this weekend's qualifier in Massachusetts. Their best competition will come from the Boston Belles, which finished second in the nation at last year's club championship. The Belles sport an even more intimidating roster, with familiar names like Amy Daniels, Ashley Clancy, Emily Malkin, Jess Peterson and Mel Denham populating the CIPP list.
Like the Belles, the Pony Express and Falcons pop in the summer to play 7s. They'll be joined by Morris, which advanced to the Jo Jo Moore semifinals with a young, quick squad.
Teams are starting to hit their stride, with the majority of the field having at least one tournament under their belts. The game to watch obviously is New York v Boston Belles, whom we expect to see in the final, as the northern and southern powers of the NRU face off.