The week leading up to this past weekend’s Rock-n-Roll 7s in Cleveland, OH — the fourth stop on a 5-leg series of events to pick 2 representatives of the Midwest at USA Rugby’s National Championship — was a roller-coaster for our Milwaukee Barbarians.
The week started out poorly with news that some injuries sustained by our players at the Lakefront 7s were quite serious, and in some cases we’re season-ending.
Luckily, a few of our Qualifier athletes were returning from busy work/home schedules to flesh out the ranks.
All press is good press
Following on the heels of this good news, we received quite a bit of press coverage this week. Rugby Magazine published it’s rankings of rugby sevens clubs in the USA with our Milwaukee rugby outfit rounding out the top 3.
Just a day later, This is American Rugby also ranked us in the nations top 10.
Rugby Magazine then followed up again with a great interview with Barbarian Nic Vigder.
A surprise shuffle in the standings
But then came some mixed news.
First, a registration error led to WMU (Kalamazoo, MI) being listed twice in the Qualifier schedule for Rock-n-Roll 7s. Some great work by the local organizers in Cleveland had the schedule sorted very quickly.
Then, the Midwest RFU reported some roster infractions by teams dating back to the first Qualifier at the Minnesota 7s. As a result, three teams lost points for that leg of the Qualifier series, vaulting the Barbarians into first place just 36 hours before the Rock-n-Roll 7s kickoff.
Milwaukee rugby gets down to business
Despite the distractions of the week, the Barbarians headed to Cleveland with their eye on the prize.
At each Midwest Sevens Series qualifier, it is critical to sweep your pool as the top-4 finishers in the pool stages compete for the top four spots at the event.
And just like at the Lakefront 7s, the Barbarians did not disappoint with 3 straight wins in their pool: 21-17 vs. Griffins (Chicago, IL), 26-7 vs. 1823 (B-side; Columbus, OH) and 22-0 vs. Pittsburgh (PA).
On to the playoff round
The 3-0 record and 14 tries in the seeding round gave the Barbarians the third seed overall and set up the critical match of the day against second-seeded 1823 (A-side).
In a hard-fought match, the Barbarians fell to the hosts in a 1-try barn burner: final score 19-12 for 1823.
But the work was not done for the day.
To maintain their spot at the top of the Midwest Sevens Series table, the Milwaukee rugby outfit would have to defeat the 2012 Midwest runner-up, the Youngbloodz (Minneapolis, MN).
After another scrappy match, the Barbarians pulled off the narrowest of victories — just a conversion made the difference in the 21-19 win.
The roster for the 2013 Rock-n-Roll sevens was:
- Ignacio Herrera
- Nick Vigder
- Mike Reagles
- Ryan Duklas
- Mike Albert
- Trevor Hergert
- Nick Albert
- Jeremy Petfalski
- Charlie Wagner
- Vince Kelly
- Alex Koivisto
- Ryan Walczak
- John Hickey (Coach)
- Kevin Smyth (Coach)
- Joe Cunningham (Manager)
Three contenders, two spots
With just one leg left in the Series — the Rock Hard 7s (Grand Rapids, MI) — the Lions (Chicago, IL), Barbarians, and 1823 remain locked in a tight race for the two spots at Nationals.
With the race so close — just one point separating 1st from 2nd, and 2nd from 3rd —much will depend on the random drawings that will set the pools for the final encounter.
Midwest Sevens Qualifier Series
|Lions (Chicago, IL)||56||4||569||146||89||423|
|Barbarians (Milwaukee, WI)||55||4||416||236||66||180|
|1823 (Columbus, OH)||54||4||471||239||73||232|
|Youngbloodz (Minneapolis, MN)||45||4||342||269||54||73|
|WMU (Kalamazoo, MI)||42||4||293||381||49||-88|
|Griffins (Chicago, IL)||36||4||262||303||43||-41|
|WRFC (Madison, WI)||27||3||220||186||36||34|
|Rhino (Chicago, IL)||24||4||166||382||28||-216|
|Gazelles (Grand Rapids, MI)||17||3||129||299||21||-170|
|Wolfpack (Woodbury, MN)||15||2||83||161||13||-78|
|Carps (Cleveland, OH)||13||2||116||242||18||-126|
|Wolfhounds (Cincinatti, OH)||12||2||127||199||19||-72|
|1823 (B-Side; Columbus, OH)||11||1||97||52||17||45|
|Crash (Bloomington, IN)||4||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.