Since the start of the Midwest Qualifier series in early June, the Milwaukee Barbarians and 1823 (Columbus, OH) have been battling for one of two chances to go to the National Championships.
And as of last week, the teams had been tied for second place in the Midwest standings.
So everyone in the Barbarians camp was well aware that distancing themselves from 1823 at the Lakefront 7s — the third leg of the 5-event Qualifier series — was the only path to Nationals.
With over 95 teams each year, the Lakefront 7s is one of the largest rugby sevens events in the country. Since the Barbarians were also hosting the tournament, there was added pressure to both perform on the pitch and successfully run a large event.
No small task with separate sides playing in all 3 Men’s brackets.
As luck would have it, the random seedings for the Qualifier event put 1823 and the Barbarians in the same ‘pool of death’, so-called because the top team from each pool is all but guaranteed to finish the event above any other team that advances from the same pool.
This gave the Barbarians the opportunity they had been waiting for.
Strong in pool play
The Barbarians took their task seriously and opened the day with a strong performance over their state-rivals, WRFC (Madison, WI). The 17-10 win was a good warm-up for the critical 1823 match that was next on the schedule.
Like the opener, the 1823 match was a close affair with strong defense from both sides. After the final whistle, the Barbarians again prevailed by just a single converted try: 14-7.
Having defeated 1823, the final obstacle was the Youngbloodz (Minneapolis, MN) — the 2012 Midwest finalists and 2nd-place finishers at the 2012 Lakefront 7s.
The Barbarians knew that the Bloodz had the potential for greatness so they came out firing on all cylinders, eventually running up a 19-7 victory to sweep the pool and take the 3rd seed going into the playoff rounds.
The road to Nationals
In the semi-final, the Babas drew second-seeded Griffins (Chicago, IL). With both confidence and momentum building, the Barbarians racked up an impressive 6-unanswered tries against the visitors from the south.
Semi-final score: 36-0.
Achieving the 4-0-0 record took it’s toll however as the Barbarians struggled in the final against tourney favorites the Lions (Chicago, IL).
After a shaky start and an early yellow-card, the Barbarians remained pinned in their own half for much of the match, falling 31-0 at the final Whistle.
Despite the loss, the Barbarians received 10 points in the Midwest Qualifier Series, taking their 3-event total to 29 and for the first time taking a clear lead over 1823 with a 3-point margin.
With the Midwest Qualifier Series on hold for the Independence Day holiday, the Barbarians now look to the 4th leg of the series — the Rock-n-Roll Sevens (Cleveland, OH) — where they must defend their second-place finish against 1823 who are hosting the event.
Midwest Sevens Qualifier Series
|Lions (Chicago, IL)||36||3||402||119||62||283|
|Barbarians (Milwaukee, WI)||29||3||314||174||50||140|
|1823 (Columbus, OH)||26||3||350||181||54||169|
|Griffins (Chicago, IL)||22||3||228||237||38||-9|
|Youngbloodz (Minneapolis, MN)||20||3||250||182||40||68|
|WMU (Kalamazoo, MI)||18||3||202||293||34||-91|
|WRFC (Madison, WI)||14||3||220||186||36||34|
|Rhino (Chicago, IL)||8||3||142||278||24||-136|
|Gazelles (Grand Rapids, MI)||5||2||107||196||17||-89|
|Wolfpack (Woodbury, MN)||5||2||83||161||13||-78|
|Wolfhounds (Cincinatti, OH)||4||2||127||199||19||-72|
|Carps (Cleveland, OH)||0||1||38||135||6||-97|
|Crash (Bloomington, IN)||0||1||0||84||0||-84|
USA Rugby holds a National Rugby Sevens Championship each year in August. To be eligible for the championship, teams compete around the country in a series of Qualifier matches in their geographic region.
Two teams are selected to represent the Midwest at the National Sevens Championships. The selection process is called the Midwest Sevens Qualifier Series. It consists of a set of events held across the Midwest at locally organized rugby sevens tournaments.
The 2013 Midwest Sevens Qualifier Series is held with the participation of the following tournaments:
- June 15th Minnesota 7s – Elk River, MN
- June 22nd Firehouse 7s – Lemont, IL
- June 29th Lakefront 7s – Milwaukee
- July 13th Rock & Roll 7s – Cleveland, OH
- July 20th Rock Hard 7s – Grand Rapids, MI
The official 2013 standings are updated following each event and published online. The complete Rules and Regulations for the Series are also available.