We are not that far into the summer 7s season, and yet so very close to its end at the same time.
In a little over two weeks we will know almost every team set to attend the national tournament in Pittsburgh, and yet it does seem like we’ve just started.
As many as 80 teams have made some sort of step toward qualifying for the national event – marking this year as perhaps one of the best in recent seasons in terms of serious participation – but many of those now have very little chance of going further.
Here’s where we stand in the eight regions trying to qualify:
Northeast. Three tournaments remain. This is the only region that will decide seeds to nationals after July 20, with the Middlesex 7s July 27 being the final qualifier. At the moment, Old Blue and Long Island are tied at the top of the standings, with Middlesex close behind and Morris and NYAC chasing the game. But with three tournaments to go, there is still a real possibility of a shakeup, especially of a leading team doesn’t show in New Haven, Princeton, or Middlesex, or they get hit with injuries or a numbers crunch.
Still, smart money would say Old Blue, Long Island, and Middlesex are best placed to compete for the two train berths to Pittsburgh.
Mid-Atlantic. One tournament to go before they decide who plays in the MARFU championship. Because there’s a territorial championship, it’s still all up in the air. The points don’t mean anything other than to set you up to fight for the prize. Still, Schuylkill River and NOVA are in good form, and Maryland Exiles and Rocky Gorge could be dark horses. Pittsburgh? Maybe.
South. There’s just the territorial championship July 20, so it’s all a crapshoot at this point. Dare to bet against Daytona? They seem to step up for the summer every year. Atlanta Old White will host the championships July 20, so likely they will be good, too. But right now, everyone is on equal footing.
Midwest. With two tournaments to go, the Midwest is still quite close. This is partly due to the region’s points system, which rewards for finishing first, but not so much that if, say, a team such as the Chicago Lions won the first three events, they couldn’t be caught.
With the points being so close (12 for 1st, 10 for second, and each place after that dropping just one point), it’s hard for any team to feel secure.
But really it makes no difference whether you give 12 pts for 1st and 10 pts for 2nd, or 24 pts for 1st and 16 for 2nd … the math that helps you can also hurt you. The Chicago Lions lead with 36 points, seven more than the Milwaukee Barbarians and ten points over 1823. So to be eliminated from nationals, the Lions need to finish down the list twice in a row, with 1823 and the Barbarians finishing in the top two. If the Lions win July 13 in Cleveland, they will clinch a spot. Meanwhile, 1823, the Chicago Griffins, and the Youngbloodz all have to target winning in Cleveland, or at least beating everyone except the Lions, as a must-do.
If Milwaukee can accomplish what they did at the Lakefront 7s – finishing 2nd while 1823 slipped to 5th – they won’t clinch the 2nd seed, but will be very, very close.
West. We’ve only had the one tournament, but the three events make this a sprint. The Denver Barbarians failed to point in the opener in Texas, and that hurts them. Kansas City won the opener and host the next one this weekend. If KC wins at home, they clinch a seed.
If Glendale comes second to Kansas City, they don’t clinch, but they eliminate virtually everyone. However, Denver is quite capable of winning this weekend, and that would throw the entire standings into a confusion. Kansas City is still in the driver’s seat, and if they get a top-three finish they should still be in the driver’s seat.
Denver, Woodlands Exiles (pending some silliness about player eligibility) and the Dallas Harlequins have to do well this weekend.
Hawaii. The Titans already qualified for nationals.
Southern California. One more tournament at Belmont Shore July 20 to decide the three seeds. Four teams are in it – Belmont Shore, San Diego Old Aztecs, Santa Monica, and OMBAC. Both Belmont Shore and the Old Aztecs can have a less-than-perfect tournament and still make it to Pittsburgh. As for Santa Monica and OMBAC? They just need to be better than the other to make nationals. Both could make it, but they would need the Old Aztecs to have a bad day.
Pacific Coast. This one is, like the Mid-Atlantic, very much up in the air. Four teams from Northern California and four teams from the Pacific Northwest will play July 20. We don’t know who those teams are, but, if Seattle Old Puget Sound and San Francisco Golden Gate aren’t two of those, we will be enormously surprised. Olympic Club has a shot, but those first two are the favorites.