More 7s opportunities with pathways to high performance is never a bad thing; in fact the destruction of the NASC 7s for men was fairly mind boggling given the focus on developing players for the iRB circuit and 2016 Olympics. However, the biggest criticism I have of this event is that there are no teams from the South despite the fact that 7s is well alive in that region. Both New Orleans men and Atlanta Old White men qualified for 7s nationals last summer with Old White progressing to the Cup Round.
Life University and Arkansas State that are collegiate powerhouses having each won 7s national titles. There are several more committed university 7s sides in the region: Tennessee, Clemson, Florida, Middle Tennessee State, Auburn, North Carolina State, and University of Arkansas that competed in the 7s National Championship. In fact one half of the entire men's collegiate 7s D1 field comes from the South. Several more sides have participated in the CRC 7s tournament in recent years as well.
Plus USA Rugby South has reactivated the men's programming with an eye on both NACRA 7s and 15s. It seems fairly shortsighted to completely deny one region of the country a team in this series as quite a few 7s Eagles have developed from the South. Hopefully players from this region will be considered in the roster selections for other cities.
Here's more from USA Rugby:
New all-star sevens tournament to produce World Club 7s participant
Twelve teams from around the country will compete in the tournament to decide who will represent the United States at Premiership Rugby’s World Club 7s alongside New York City Sevens. At the inaugural World Club 7s at Twickenham Stadium, New York City Sevens won the Plate, while the other U.S. representative, San Francisco Golden Gate, finished eighth.
“This is an incredibly important development opportunity for players around the country who wish to get on the radar for sevens Residency chances at the Olympic Training Center,” USA Rugby Club Director Jim Snyder said. “This will be a first-of-its-kind event with players able to showcase themselves at a higher level while also pursuing qualification to a major international event.”
The 12 teams will be based in the following cities: Austin/Houston, Texas; Boston, Mass.; Chicago, Ill.; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas, Texas; Denver, Colo.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Salt Lake City, Utah; San Diego, Calif.; San Francisco, Calif.; Seattle, Wash.; and Washington, D.C. Opportunities to expand to additional cities across the country will be explored in the future.
Teams will be comprised of the best players at all levels from their surrounding region. Teams will work alongside newly-appointed USA Rugby National Development Director for the Men’s Eagles Sevens Alex Magleby and Eagles Head Coach Matt Hawkins to finalize their rosters to make sure players already identified by the national team staff as well as players local coaches have identified are given the opportunity to compete at a higher level.
“I think it’s going to help tremendously,” Richie Walker, coach of the San Diego team, said. “We can put collegiate players in with club players and get them some experience. It’s almost an international stage because the only step to go further is the Men’s Eagles Sevens. I think it’s going to be really great.”
“As a whole, I think it’s going to be great,” Paul Holmes of Tiger Rugby and the Ohio-based sevens team said. “I know the boys are going to be excited. I just hope that everyone uses it for what it is and that’s to get good American players in a better spotlight and better competition.”
“For me, I’m looking for players that are young and need to be seen and some older guys to help them, to show them the way,” Aaron Manheimer, coach of the team based in Chicago, said. “Any time you can put a team where you try to get rid of some of the hometown biases and just get the best players in the area to play on the team I think it’s good.”
The coaches and administrators of the selected teams represent individuals and organizations that have a track record of quality coaching, the ability to assemble and travel with select-side teams and those either operating or aspiring to launch a recognized USA Rugby Olympic Development Academy.
“This will be a tremendously exciting new event,” USA Rugby Chief Executive Officer Nigel Melville said. “We’ll be able to cast a wide net and, with the help of some incredibly dedicated coaches and administrators, get 144 of the best sevens players this country has to offer in one place to showcase themselves and vie for selection into the Olympic sevens pathway.
“We’re hoping to see some of the best rugby of the year played out in Houston. Showcasing this tournament alongside a Tier 1 test match should make for a tremendous weekend of rugby.”
More details, including tournament venue, will be announced at a later date.
|Salt Lake City||Mark Drown|
|San Diego||Richie Walker|
|San Francisco||John Tyler|
|Washington, D.C.||Chris Harvey|