The teams are piling into Pittsburgh, readying for tomorrow’s Women’s Club 7s National Championship. It’s the second year that Dre Khoury has been at the helm of the organizing committee, and she provided some insight into this year’s event.
Already an improvement over last year, 16 teams have actually shown up for the tournament; in 2012, a flurry of withdrawals saw only 15 teams in San Francisco. Some of that success reflects on the flexibility of the Mid-Atlantic, from where Khoury hails, and the region’s ability to contribute a fifth team when the West defaulted.
Khoury was also sensitive to some of the teams' requests regarding pool play.
“We really tried to prevent teams from [the same region] playing each other in the first two rounds,” Khoury said. “We talked to some of the 7s leaders around the country and overwhelmingly they didn't want to see the same clubs they saw all summer. We did our best to accommodate that while still maintaining some level of fidelity to last year's results.”
The only teams with significant knowledge each other are the D.C. Furies and NOVA II, which are both in Pool C. Another six teams are making their debut at 7s nationals, and some of that turnover reflects the growing popularity of the game. That said, growth brings its own set of challenges, for instance, a variety of means to name regional berths.
“Next year, I would love to see a few things [like] more organized and uniform local competitions," Khoury said. "This year we had some unions who had multiple qualifying events culminating in a local championship that determined their teams going into nationals. Other regions had one or two games. And still others could barely put together a team.”
Khoury would also like to see some cross-region events that would impact national standings. But most importantly, she awaits a more serious commitment from teams across country.
“Many people work very hard to put together a competitive club women's 7s national championship,” Khoury said. “And while I'm still very happy with all of the teams who are participating, it would have been nice to have representation from all the regions and not be scrambling around at the last minute trying to find teams to come to nationals.”
The former Eagle realizes the process involved and each year’s event gets a little better.
“I think some of these issues will be resolved with the upcoming USA Rugby restructuring that is scheduled to begin in September,” Khoury referenced the requirement for competitive 7s teams. “But local areas should begin now considering what their commitment level is and figuring out how to attract more women to the 7s game.”
The action kicks off at 9 a.m. tomorrow. Stayed tuned for results and player/coach interviews.