NOVA won the Blue Ball 7s Tournament Saturday in Wilmington, Del. In the first qualifier for the Mid Atlantic RFU 7s series.
Seven teams played in the Premier League separated into two pools. Pool A consisted of Schuylkill River, Norfolk, Washington, and Towson. Pool B consisted of the Maryland Exiles, Northern Virginia (NOVA) and the Pittsburgh Harlequins.
The top two teams from each pool advanced to the semifinals. Schuylkill River and Norfolk advanced from Pool A. In Pool B, all of the teams ended 1-1, and thus the top two teams were decided through point differential. NOVA ended up +3, Maryland Exiles had a +2, and Pittsburgh Harlequins were -5, and so NOVA and Maryland advanced, but had to play one more match to determine the seeding for the semifinal match. Maryland Exiles won this match 28-12, so they received the higher seeding.
In the semifinals, Maryland Exiles went up against Norfolk and NOVA took on Schuylkill River. Maryland advanced beating Norfolk 28-10. In the other semifinal matchup, NOVA came from behind and won 14-12 against the tournament favorite Schuylkill River.
NOVA and Maryland Exiles therefore faced off against each other for the third time on Saturday in the championship game. Maryland won the first two of these encounters, but in the championship game it was NOVA who prevailed, defeating Maryland 19-5.
NOVA’s team communication saw them through. Flyhalf Gareth Willatt and scrumhalf Adam Henderson played outstanding defense, especially in their individual tackles, and they played structured ball and were strong around the breakdown.
NOVA showed a lot of heart, said Willatt, coming back from the two losses to Maryland. “We came back out in the championship game determined to win and did just that.”
Maryland Head Coach J'son Townes said his team was disappointed to lose to NOVA after beating them twice.
"I think the guys kind of felt they would just roll over NOVA, but they're a good team and Dan Weku was just a man out there for them - tough, physical. They smashed us in the mouth early," said Townes.
On the plus side for Maryland is that they got four young or new players some significant game time. This group included Arnold Davies, former football player Isiejah Allen, and Harvard University freshman Andrew Duffy, who was, Townes, said, the best defender in the tournament and who scored Maryland's only try in the final
All the scores:
Schuylkill River 38-0 Washington
Norfolk 17-12 Towson
Schuylkill River 17-0 Norfolk
Washington 12-5 Towson
Norfolk 19-12 Washington
Schuylkill River 24-12 Towson
- Schuylkill River
Maryland Exiles 12-5 NOVA
Pittsburgh Harlequins 19-14 Maryland Exiles
NOVA 10-0 Pittsburgh Harlequins
Point Differential- NOVA +3, Maryland Exiles +2, Pittsburgh Harlequins -5
Maryland Exiles 28-12 NOVA
Maryland 28-10 Norfolk
NOVA 14-12 Schuylkill River
NOVA 19-5 Maryland Exiles