On Saturday the Milwaukee Barbarians hosted the largest summer rugby event in the nation in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The Lakefront 7s is a special event for the Milwaukee area rugby club and it was an all hands on deck week as a full four sides of players and scores of alumni and fans gave it their all to make the event successful.
On the pitch, the Barbarians had their best overall showing in a decade despite falling just short of our goal to win a championship for each of our sides.
The Division 1 side started the day strong in Qualifier pool play with 31-5 and 24-7 victories over the Gazelles (Grand Rapids, MI) and Lions-B (Chicago, IL). The third match was the closest of the pool play, but Milwaukee hung on for a 19-17 victory versus the Wolfhounds (Cincinnati, OH).
With 12 tries and a total of 74 points, the 3-0 record gave Milwaukee the second seed in the playoff rounds.
The first playoff was a semi-final match against fourth-seeded 1823-B (Columbus, OH) where the Barbarians put up a comprehensive 31-7 victory to advance to the final against 1823-A in a repeat of the Madtown 7s semi-final.
The final was a nail-biting chess-match between two equally matched opponents. The Barbarians were first on the board, but 1823-A soon drew the match level before a yellow card to Milwaukee put the home side on the defense for 2 minutes midway through the first half.
In a sublime display of teamwork and sheer will, Milwaukee kept 1823-A at bay with just 6 players for the full length of the sin binning.
With a short rest at halftime, the teams took to the pitch again and 1823-A scored quickly to take the lead and extended the margin by two tries with another score a short time later.
But Milwaukee were not done. The defense kicked into gear again the scoreline was narrowed when Milwaukee went over.
The Barbarians continued to press, but the 1823-A defense held until the final whistle blew: the visitors had taken the championship 19-12.
The Division 2 side had a similar day at work in the Competitive bracket.
In pool play, they had two wins by comfortable margins [49-7 vs the Wizards (Brooklyn Park, MN) and 28-0 versus Blaze-2 (Chicago, IL)] and a narrow win match decided by a single score [19-14 versus Des Moines (West Des Moines, IA)].
The third-seeded Barbarians met the second-seeded Celtics (Green Bay, WI) in the semi-final, a replay of their Western conference semi-final during the 15s season playoffs. The Barbarians advanced to the finals with a 29-14 scoreline.
The Division 2 final against MRFC (Milwaukee, WI) was even closer than Division 1. The evenly matched teams battled for 20 minutes with both sides scoring three times. At the final whistle, MRFC took first place by the smallest of margins — 19-17 — with the difference coming down to a conversion kick.
The third VII started the day confidently in the morning Social bracket with a pair of shut-out victories versus the Fire Belly Toads (Gurnee, IL, 36-0) and Franklin County (Washington, MO, 28-0).
The third match of pool play was a close one against the Fox Valley Maoris (St. Charles, IL) against whom the Barbarians played an overtime thriller in the 2014-2015 fifteens season. The Lakefront 7s matchup was similarly close with the home side taking the day by a single try 19-12.
In the semi-final, the Barbarians pushed hard, enjoyed most of the possession, and were clinical on defense. At the final whistle, they cruised to the Championship match with a 36-5 win versus 3rd-seeded Bowies (Chicago, IL).
The final was a competitive match against the Black & Blue (Milwaukee, WI). With only 3 tries scored between both finalists, the Barbarians took the Championship trophy with a 14-5 victory.
The Division 4 team performed well in pool play in the afternoon Social bracket, starting with a 32-12 win against the Landsharks (Chicago, IL).
They turned in a similar margin — 28-5 — against the NU Fat Cats (Evanston, IL).
But their day was cut short by the top side from the Northwest Woodsmen who took the final pool match 19-5 and went on to win the Championship.
Excellent record overall
With an overall 16-3 record, one Championship trophy, and two runners-up plaques, the 2015 Lakefront 7s has been one of the most successful campaigns for the team that is also hosting the event!
Next week we take a break for the July 4th holiday, and then it’s back to work as the Qualifier/D1 side and the D2 side head to Fairfield, OH for the CinCity 7s with the D3 team heading to Oconomowoc, WI for the Lionhunter 7s.