Three qualifying tournaments kick off this weekend – Washington 7s, OMBAC 7s and Minnesota 7s. The qualifiers are for the Mid Atlantic, Southern California, and the Midwest, respectively.
In Washington D.C., the second leg of the MARFU qualifiers will take place. There are 40 teams currently registered. The heavy favorite is NOVA coming off a successful campaign in the Blue Ball tournament, the first qualifier. Hometown team, Washington RFC, beefed up their lineup for this weekend by adding some new, young players. With the new squad they are fielding, Kevin Gilligan, club president, believes they can make a deep run on Saturday. NOVA is also the heavy favorite for the women’s bracket.
There are 12 teams signed up for this region’s first qualifier, 10 from Southern California, and the other 2 are guest teams traveling in. The 12 teams are divided into 4 pools. The four semifinalists from last year are the highest ranking seeds in each of the pools.
Belmont won SoCal and the National Championship with a few reclamation projects and a bunch of breakout stars last year. Many of those guys are back this season, as are some longtime Belmont stalwarts Tai Enosa and Riaan Hamilton, who only recently popped up on Belmont’s CIPP list. This tournament will be new coach Peter Sio’s first.
The Old Aztecs are also expected to be competitive against this year. Justin Boyd transferred back, as did Arkansas State’s Dylan Carrion. Ben Nicholls, formerly of the Utah Warriors and Atlantis, also recently appeared on the Old Aztecs’ roster. It’s unclear if all three of those guys will be with the club this weekend.
Pool A Pool B Pool C Pool D
Belmont Shore Old Aztecs OMBAC Santa Monica
North County All Marines Olympic club Tempe
Kern County Oceanside OC Ravens LA
Set to begin at 10:40 am, the first Midwest qualifier takes off in Minnesota. There are 9 teams separated into three brackets. The top 8 teams advance to the playoff round. The pools and the teams’ seedings were picked randomly by Midwest President Jeremiah Johnson.
The Chicago Lions and Youngbloodz have been the best teams in the Midwest in recent years, and 1823 and has been nipping on their heels. The Lions are expected to have a similar cast of players as they have in the past, and they add Muhammud Abdool-Shakur who helped Dartmouth to the 2011 CRC Championship. 1823 will be with the Mauer and Cochran brothers, as well as Mike Ziegler, Nick Brandenstein and Pasefika Iosia, formerly of Belmont Shore.
Pool A Pool B Pool C
Kalamazoo Wisconsin RFC Chicago Rhino
Chicago Lions Woodbury Wolfpack 1823
Youngbloodz Chicago Griffins Milwaukee Barbarians