The Barbarians — the elite rugby squad based in Milwaukee — on Saturday travelled to Grand Rapids for the 2013 Rock Hard 7s tournament.
This seven-a-side rugby event was the 5th and final leg of 5-event ‘Qualifier’ series to determine the two teams that would represent the Midwest territory at the National Club Sevens Championships.
Entering the event at second place in series standings but only 1 point ahead of 1823 (Columbus, OH), the Barbarians knew that executing their game plan at the highest level would be critical.
A strong start
In the opening seeding-round of 3 matches, the Barbarians fired on all cylinders.
They opened with a comprehensive 50-7 victory over the Gazelles (Grand Rapids, MI), the tournament hosts.
They also defeated Rhino (Chicago, IL; a collaboration between the South Side Irish and Blaze) and the Wolfhounds (Cincinnati, OH) by comfortable margins of 34-5 and 21-10, respectively.
This was the strongest seeding-round performance for the Barbarians throughout the Qualifier series and they were rewarded for their efforts with the first seed going into the Championship (knock-out) round.
Critical match-up vs. 1823
Also advancing to the Championship round were the second and third seeded Lions and Griffins (both from Chicago, IL) with 1823 rounding out the top 4.
This set up the most important match of the series — Milwaukee rugby vs. 1823.
The match started strong for the Barbarians with a excellent continuity of both possession and field position in 1823 territory.
The prolonged attack led to the Barbarians crossing the whitewash twice, but each time the try was called back by the referee.
With time expiring in the first half, 1823 won some turnover ball and ran in he first score of the match at the halftime whistle.
The second half was another defensive battle for much of the match, but late in the match, the Barbarian defense allowed two late tries. Final score: 21-0.
Third-place finish for Milwaukee rugby
The day ended with a forfeit-win (28-0) over the Griffins, enough for a third-place finish at the event.
With 1823 finishing second at the event, this forced a head-to-head tie-break in the Midwest Sevens Series standings which gave the Ohio outfit the win — and a spot at Nationals with the Lions — having defeated the Milwaukee rugby team on 4 out of 5 occasions.
Although disappointed, the Barbarians made huge strides in the Sevens game this year — their first on the National Sevens scene — and received a lot of National press.
You can bet that the Milwaukee rugby sevens program will be bigger and better in the 2014 season.
The Barbarians roster in Grands Rapids included:
- Zach Albert
- Mike Albert
- Nick Albert
- Joe Cunningham (Manager)
- Ryan Duklas
- Trevor Hergert
- John Hickey (Coach)
- Vince Kelly
- Jerry Petfalski
- Mike Reagles
- Kevin Smyth
- Nick Vigder
- Charlie Wagner
- Sean Williams
Midwest Sevens Qualifier Series
|Lions (Chicago, IL)||76||5||752||151||118||601|
|1823 (Columbus, OH)||72||5||623||309||93||314|
|Barbarians (Milwaukee, WI)||72||5||549||279||90||270|
|Youngbloodz (Minneapolis, MN)||59||5||451||325||71||126|
|WMU (Kalamazoo, MI)||55||5||389||481||65||-92|
|Griffins (Chicago, IL)||52||5||322||413||53||-91|
|Rhino (Chicago, IL)||32||5||216||447||36||-231|
|WRFC (Madison, WI)||27||3||220||186||36||34|
|Wolfhounds (Cincinatti, OH)||23||3||238||255||37||-17|
|Gazelles (Grand Rapids, MI)||21||4||157||394||25||-237|
|Carps (Cleveland, OH)||17||3||149||318||23||-169|
|Impalas (Indianapolis, IN)||16||2||102||221||18||-119|
|Wolfpack (Woodbury, MN)||15||2||83||161||13||-78|
|1823 (B-Side; Columbus, OH)||11||1||97||52||17||45|
|Exiles (Hobart, IN)||4||1||5||183||1||-119|
|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 territory or 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.