We’re nearly halfway through the fall college 7s season, and seven teams have won automatic bids to the DI College 7s National Championships Nov. 23-24 in Greensboro, NC.
USA Rugby released the list of qualifiers last week, and policy appears to have changed from years prior. Instead of limiting teams to one opportunity to qualify, some will have numerous this season. For example, there are six qualifiers in the state of California alone.
Last weekend, three teams punched their tickets to Greensboro – Oklahoma, Central Washington and Cal Poly.
The Sooners did it by capping off an undefeated run through the Allied Rugby Conference’s three-tournament series Saturday in Norman. The competition was split into two pools, one with all ARC teams and one with out-of-conference teams. Oklahoma went 4-0 against conference opponents before losing 40-7 to Arkansas State in the tournament final.
Central Washington won its way to Nationals by taking the Northwest Collegiate Rugby Conference 7s tournament with ease, cruising through the field undefeated. Central finished second at Nationals in 2011 and lost in the Plate Semifinals in 2012. The Wildcats look primed for another Cup berth in 2013.
Cal Poly’s conduit to Nationals was the California State tournament in Sacramento. The Mustangs went 4-0 on Saturday and beat Sacramento State in the final.
So, qualified are Air Force (Cougar 7s – Provo, Utah), Arkansas (Heart of America – Lawrence, Kan.), Cal Poly (Cal State – Sacramento, Calif.), Central Washington (NCRC – Monmouth, Ore), Oklahoma (ARC Series), Texas (Southwest – San Marcos, TX) and UCLA (West Coast).
Though they’ve not yet qualified, there are some teams who’ve made their cases for one of the eight at-large bids to Nationals.
Arkansas State is chief among them. The Red Wolves, who might win an automatic bid Saturday at the South Independent Championship in Atlanta, haven’t lost a game this fall, winning a sparring session with Lindenwood in St. Charles, Mo. and all their games at the final ARC tournament, beating Texas, Oklahoma and Lindenwood in the process. Texas is already qualified, and Lindenwood is another team deserving an at-large.
The Lions went undefeated at the Notre Dame Invitational, beating the Fighting Irish, Davenport, Western Michigan and Illinois, and they beat Texas, North Texas and Texas Tech. The only team to beat Lindenwood this year is Arkansas State.
Cal, which will send teams to the Battle in the Bay this weekend and the PAC 7s later this year, is also in the at-large mix, should they not win an automatic bid.
There are three automatic bids on offer this weekend, at the aforementioned South Independent Championship in Atlanta, the Battle of the Bay in San Francisco and the Rocky Mountain West in Fort Collins, Colo.
Life and Arkansas State are expected to meet in the South Independent final for a rematch of last year's National Championship Game. Air Force, Colorado, Colorado State, BYU and Wyoming are expected at the Rocky Mountain West event, and the Battle in the Bay has a star-studded field that includes Cal, UCLA, Central Washington, Arizona State and St. Mary's.
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