With two Red River Rugby Conference Tournaments in the books, The Austin Blacks, having won the first two events, are booking their tickets to the Pacific Northwest to represent the Men at the USA Rugby 7s Championship Tournament. The Women’s division, however, is still very much up for grabs with three teams still mathematically alive. It’s likely that the Bluebonnets or Austin will be the victors but Tulsa can still make it happen if they win in Houston and can keep both of the aforementioned competitors out of the Cup final.
The RRRC is thrilled with the women’s series as this is the first ever Competitive 7s competition for the women. Teams that have just joined the TRU and are playing in a D1 Competition for the first time are also doing well in sevens. Considering that the Dallas Harlequins is a fairly new club and that they have stolen wins from more established teams, this is a testament to the growth of women’s rugby in Texas. Likewise the formation of the Bluebonnets Select Team (made up of players from six different teams across Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma), has helped raised the level of competition as well. Good luck to all the women’s teams this weekend!
Despite the Austin Black’s perceived dominance in the series, the second qualifier tournament proved that the Women’s division isn’t the only side of the bracket displaying competitive play in the Red River Rugby Conference. On the Men’s side, six different teams qualified for the Cup Semi Finals in two tournaments with only Bonobo and Austin making the final four in both events. Bonobo and the Dallas Reds both beat the Austin Blacks in Pool play at some point during the competition. Both of the Dallas Teams (Harlequins and Reds) boast some impressive rosters including representatives from Tiger, Atlantis, Collegiate All Americans, and a couple of recent Eagles. Bonobo on the other hand, is a team that may not have any household names yet (note: keep your eye on Paul Eteaki) but they have speed, fitness and a whole lot of size and are capable of beating anyone on the day.
The other two teams of note thus far are Oklahoma City and Little Rock. Little Rock is coached by former Women’s Eagles and LSU’s CRC team coach Jules McCoy. Despite being a relatively inexperienced squad, the quality of their coaching is evident through their consummate professional demeanor and flashes of brilliance via well orchestrated team based pattern of play. OKC has talent but would benefit from depth, if they maintain their focus and keep looking forward, they could be a force in years to come. Despite there only being one team advancing from Red River this year, the final tournament will go a long way for any of the other teams in the conference that want to establish themselves as serious 7s competitors in the future.