Six teams converge on Life University Saturday to compete for the South’s two bids to the Club 7s National Championships August 6-7 in San Francisco.
The South does not do a qualifier circuit of any kind, rather just a one-off tournament to decide its representatives, but some of the six teams in the qualifier have already seen each other plenty this summer.
The three Atlanta-area teams, Life, Old White and the Renegades, competed in the Atlanta Renegades tournament and Hotlanta 7s, put on by Old White.
Life won the ‘Gades event, the hosts finished second and Old White third. At the more recent Hotlanta 7s, Old White won, the 'Gdes finished second and Life finished third.
Atlanta Old White are the defending South champs. They got off to a less than stellar start in the Renegades event, but did so after losing four starters to injury. Evidenced by winning Hotlanta 7s, Old White appears to be back on track.
“In the last month, eventually our squad has slowly grown back to the full strength it should have been at the beginning of the season,” said Old White coach Brynn Ireland.
“Right now we have, for the first time, what I would consider a full-strength squad that can compete at both the South level as well as a national level.”
Some of the starters lost in that first tournament, like Mike Aaron and Eric Woods, are back, and they’re accompanied by impact addition Chris Mahony, formerly of Auckland.
Life, 2010 runners up, are without the services of several usuals. Pat Danahy and Paul Emerick are sitting out because of the impending World Cup, and All Americans Cam Dolan, Garrett Lambert and Kyle Grossheider are still on duty in Santa Barbara, with one more match against New Zealand Universities upcoming.
The Running Eagles will have former Arkansas State standout Clint Whittler, coach Tui Osborne and undergrad star Colton Cariaga. Saturday, says Life director of rugby Dan Payne, will be the current squad’s first tournament together this summer.
Life is joined in Pool B by the Renegades and Charlotte, who are playing their first summer series in the South since leaving the Mid-Atlantic. Charlotte reached Nationals in 2010, but their key playmaker, former Samoan 7s international Morgan Salesa, is not with the team this summer.
Accompanying Old White in Pool A are Daytona and DII National Champs New Orleans, who are led by captain Jeff Reuther and typically bolstered by the addition of local college talent.
A B C
Old White Life Beach
Daytona New Orleans Charlotte 2
At. Renegades Charlotte Old White 2
10 am OW vs Daytona
10:20 Life vs New Orleans
10:40 Beach vs Charlotte 2
11:00 Old White 2 vs Life 2
11:30 OW vs Renegades
11:50 Life vs Charlotte
12:10 Beach vs Old White 2
12:30 Charlotte 2 vs Life 2
1:00 Daytona vs Renegades
1:20 New Orleans vs Charlotte
1:40 Beach vs Life 2
2:00 Charlotte 2 vs Old White 2
2:30 Pool A # 1 vs Pool B # 2
2:50 Pool B # 1 vs Pool A # 2
3:10 Pool A # 3 vs Pool B # 3
3:30 Championship HS match or Pool C match
4:00 Semi loser pool A vs Semi Loser Pool B
4:30 Championship Match – 10 minute Halves..