The Milwaukee Barbarians sent both their D1 and D2 squads to Grand Rapids this past weekend to compete at the Rock Hard 7s.
The Michigan venue is the fourth stop on the Midwest Rugby Sevens series to select two teams to represent the region in the National Club Sevens Championship on Aug. 9 in Des Moines, IA.
Unfortunately, the hot and humid conditions made for a tough day all around with multiple delays for lightning and thunderstorms. And the wet and slow conditions worked against the systems the Barbarians have been relying on most of season.
Not surprisingly, the results on the pitch were mixed.
Division 2 perfect in pool play
Despite the challenges, the Division 2 side had a strong day in the social bracket with wins against the Tradesmen B (28-5; Detroit, MI), Gazelles B (19-17; Grand Rapids, MI), and Western Michigan University/WMU (25-12; Kalamazoo, MI).
Thus, they finished pool play with a 3-0 record and the top seed going into semi-finals.
However, with only eight men all day in the 90+ degree heat, they ran out of gas in the semi-finals against a determined Tradesman A side falling 28-19.
Unfortunately, the consolation final could not be played for wether, leaving Milwaukee rugby tied for 3rd place.
Division 1 stumbles early, finishes strong
Through 3 national qualifying events and 2 local warm-up events, the Barbarians first VII had only lost a single match in pool play. At Rock Hard 7s however, it become clear that something was different.
Although the defense was great, the top rugby outfit in Milwaukee had difficulties on offense that kept their matches low-scoring and close.
After 2 narrow victories, the team lost their second pool match of the season 21-14 to 1823B (Columbus, OH)).
With three teams in the pool at 2-1 records and an under-performing Barbarian offense, the team went into the championship rounds as the 5th seed vs. the Griffins (Chicago, IL).
With renewed vigor, the attack lines finally kicked into gear and the Barbarians were rewarded with a 33-0 shutout victory.
The semi-final success set up a chance for revenge against 1823B in the consolation final, but the weather did not cooperate. When the final standings were tallied, Milwaukee officially finished the day in fifth place.
More work to be done to advance to Nationals
After 4 weeks and 4 first-place finishes, 1823A automatically advances to Nationals.
The Barbarians D1 side are the second team in the standings table, and with 1823 resting will be the top seed at the Midwest Championships this Saturday in Lemont, IL at the Firehouse 7s.
The Milwaukee rugby club will go to battle with the Lions (Chicago, IL), Griffins, Blaze (Lemont, IL), Wolfhounds (Cincinnati, OH), CARP (Cleveland, OH), Youngbloodz (Minneapolis, MN), and either the Gazelles or WMU.
The winner of the Firehouse 7s will be the second Midwest seed for Nationals regardless of overall standings.