Sacramento, Calif. – The final round of the NCRFU 7’s Qualifiers will be held this Saturday at Danny Nunn Park in Sacramento, Calif.
At the tournament’s conclusion, the four Northern California qualifiers to the Pacific Coast championships July 20 will be confirmed. The top two at the Pacific Coast tournament will claim seeds to the USA Rugby Club 7s National Championships in Pittsburgh, Pa.
After some issues with player eligibility were sorted out with the NCRFU, the EPA Bulldogs, Santa Rosa, and Diablo have been penalized for ineligible players during the first weekend and were forced to forfeit all games played in week one. As a result, multiple teams have lost or gained points and the standings have shifted.
San Francisco Golden Gate remains at the top of the series with a record of 9-1-0 and a maximum total of 16 points. Olympic Club finished 2nd in the second weekend, and after Santa Rosa was penalized and forced to forfeit the first round it bumped O-Club up to 2nd for the first weekend as well. The Olympic Club now has accumulated 14 points and both SFGG and O-Club have secured a spot at the Pacific Coast qualifier on July 20.
The Sacramento Lions and hosts of this weekend’s final round have finished 5th place in the first two tournaments. Due to the penalties dealt to EPA and Santa Rosa, however, Sacramento has benefited and gained two points in the series standings and now sit in 3rd place with 10 points. The Lions should be able to secure a spot in Seattle if they finish in the top six this weekend.
Lions Head Coach Iferemie Tawake is optimistic and knows his team can play better. “Our problem has been getting organized early. We have not been able to start strong in the beginning of the day,” stated Tawake. “You need to win games and be consistent in 7s. If you aren’t focused early and drop one game, you find yourself fighting for 5thplace.”
In the first tournament, the Lions went 2-3 on the day, losing all 3 games in pool play (2 of which were within one try). The second weekend the Lions were 3-1-1. The Lions lost their first match to EPA Bulldogs, but then managed to do something no one else in the tournament has accomplished and managed to tie (i.e. not lose to)the unstoppable SF Golden Gate, 17-17. The Lions have the potential to be a good team and have scored 37 tries throughout the tournament series; second most after SFGG’s commanding 56 tries while O-Club has the third most tries scored with 31.
“We know we have the ability to win games and compete with good teams,” stated Tawake. “But we have to start strong and maintain that momentum throughout the day. There are no excuses and we know we can do better.” The Lions are eager to have their best performance at home in the final round and will need to execute if they want their 7s season to continue after Saturday.
San Jose, Diablo, and Fresno sit tied for 4thplace with 6 points each, although San Jose currently has the most tries out of the three teams (all tries scored in week one were also deducted from San Jose, Diablo, and EPA as a penalty for ineligible players playing the first weekend). The try count would be the tie-breaker if any of the teams are still tied in the standings after this weekend. The EPA Bulldogs have played tough throughout the tournament finishing 4th both weekends. EPA, however, was also penalized for the first weekend and forced to forfeit their matches and now find themselves sitting in 7th place with 5 points. Santa Rosa, who began the tournament with a 2nd place finish that has since been negated, are in 8th place with 3 points.
Even with a first place finish, it doesn’t look as though Santa Rosa will have a shot at the top four. Should the Sacramento Lions finish 6th or better then they will secure the third spot. This leaves San Jose, Diablo, Fresno, and EPA battling for the 4th spot. SFGG and Olympic Club are secure, but will be looking to carry some momentum going into Seattleon July 20. There is much to play for in the final round of the NCRFU 7s qualifier series.
In addition to the final round of NCRFU 7s, there will be a social round featuring b-side teams competing from SFGG, O-Club, and the Sacramento Lions. Sacramento State will enter their top side in this pool as well. Also competing will be local youth sides from the Sacramento area ranging from ages 8-14.
Lions Team Manager Aaron Frederick says the Lions are excited to be able to host the final round of the NCRFU 7s qualifier series. “It should be a great day for 7s rugby in Sacramento on Saturday. There will be over twelve sides competing on two fields with elite, social, and youth matches. The elite side should be competitive as always and it will be interesting as we figure out which four teams will be representing Northern California on July 20 in Seattle.”