TOLA 7’s has officially kicked off and the first two stops are in the books. June 5th we saw Dallas RFC hosting Lone Star 7’s, while 80 teams descended on Round Rock, TX on June 19th for the historic Bloodfest 7’s hosted by the Austin Huns. While TOLA typically runs in conjunction with RRRC National Qualifying pathways, this year due to the Invitational format of National Club 7’s, TOLA has all the TRU Clubs vying for the title. More information on TOLA 7’s, including the full 2021 schedule, can be found here.
The top 4 standings after weeks 1 & 2 can be found below, while the updated and full standings can be found here.
Austin Valkyries take the top two spots in Bloodfest 7’s 2021, Photo by Norma Salinas
Austin Valkyries – As the largest women’s club in Texas, Austin is a formidable opponent; they have the size, the speed, and the brains needed to push out a strong side. This year, they seem to be doubling up. Austin entered one team at Lone Star where they comfortably rolled through pool play and into the final where they snatched a 22-7 win over the Dallas Harlequins. At Bloodfest they split the numbers and entered two sides; Austin Valkyries Red and Austin Valkyries Black. The Red looked to be on the front foot against every opponent, where the Black had to fight a bit harder through Dallas and San Antonio to reach the semis. Each team took their respective semi-final and met in the final. A thrilling match did not occur as the day was long, and setting sister against sister seemed unnecessary – but rather the teams came together and celebrated the massive team win.
Dallas Harlequins – Sitting second in the TOLA table, Dallas Harlequins have beefed up their side a bit with two Life standouts – Madison Ohmann juicing up the roster, Whitney Wilson bringing some knowledge as a coach. Brittany Allums adds more valuable talent to this side and was key in the 2nd place finish at Lone Star. At Bloodfest the Quins topped Maulgaritaville in a close match, took down Grand Prairie, and lost a close one to HARC, cutting them out of the semi-finals. These ladies have a long season ahead though, look for them to tighten up some things and mesh as a team heading into the rest of the season.
Houston Athletic – The sHARCs have only entered one tournament this year, which could explain their fourth place seat in the standings, but expect that to change. sHARCs are a storied club, and pull from years of experience. Historically they field a larger side, which comes in handy during a physical bout. However, don’t think this counts them out in the races, sHARCs have some of the speediest players in Texas and once the forwards are done bruising you, the backs will leave you in their dust. Expect them to rise in the standings as the season progresses.
Dallas RFC – Dallas RFC are throwing more numbers than we’ve seen in years past. They had a particularly strong showing at Bloodfest, putting up a better side against the Austin Valkyries than they did two weeks earlier. Power players like Haley Hunter and Patricia Duke clean up the breakdown while the finishers, Calli Davis and Holly Garcia clock up the points. If the improvement from Lone Star to Bloodfest is any sign, this Dallas squad could be unstoppable come championships.
Grand Prairie Mavericks take home the Men’s Open Championship at Bloodfest 7’s 2021.
Austin Huns – Won a sudden death thriller over hosts Dallas at Lone Star 7’s, the first TOLA tournament of the season. Lost a hot semi-final against California’s Rhino Rugby Academy in the Bloodfest semi-finals. Austin Huns mix it up by playing loose and creating their own holes with nifty footwork and offloads. Key players include Corey Jones and JP Noval, with solid support in the midfield coming from Casey Flack and Grant Beadle. Look for the Huns to stay strong throughout the season, as their team becomes more cohesive – they will continue to shake it up.
Dallas RFC – Bloodfest Champions, 2nd at Lone Star. Dallas plays an organized system, they have the playmakers, the ball carriers, and the finishers. They take it to the next level with their fitness; Dallas doesn’t tire easily, and their bench runs deep. Look for players like Dylan Carrion to command the system and Aaron Davis and Alex Elkins to provide the big hits. In case that isn’t enough – watch the speed on the outside, blink and you’ll miss Deionte McMurray and Naranda Jackson. Expect big things from Dallas this season.
Rugby HTX – The Houston Sabercats Academy side, this team was new on the XV circuit this year. If you watched any of their matches this spring, you’d notice some key players leading the drive. It seems that they hand-picked all of them and put them on a 7’s side. HTX beat a strong Gorilla side and Countdown City Elite to meet Dallas RFC in the Bloodfest Semi-Final. They lost in the last play to Austin Huns in the 3rd place match. With Trace Bolstad commanding and John Ray and Jimmy Haley inserting some quick steps and quicker thinking, this HTX team will be physical AND game-savvy. Don’t count them out; this was HTX’s first showing and it was a strong one.
Dallas Harlequins – The Harlequins have had two different tournaments, but finished similarly. At Lone Star, they swept pool play, finishing top of their pool to enter the semis where they lost to Dallas RFC. In Bloodfest, it was a tough showing in pool play, but entering the Premier Consolation bracket, they took down a strong Countdown City Elite side by a single point, then struck their vengeance on the Austin Blacks with a 19-12 win. Thanks to their offload skill and cohesion, Harlequins are currently third in the TOLA rankings.
Gorilla – Affectionately known as the young kids on the block, this team dazzled in their first few years as they were primarily U19 players playing against top sides like Austin, Dallas, and NOLA. Gorilla’s pool has grown a bit older but their players now return from university with more experience. Gorilla also topped their pool in Dallas, and had a bit of a harder showing at Bloodfest. They did however put up more points against their opponents and keep the scoreline close. Gorilla’s talent is their ability to never give up and never slow down. You don’t want to pause and catch your breath for even a second against these young guys, they’ll make you regret it.
Grand Prairie – Talk about a Dark Horse on this years’ TOLA circuit. Grand Prairie as a club has grown in numbers and skill; and they show that off as they steam into this years’ 7’s competition. Grand Prairie was second in their pool at Lone Star, and managed to clinch the Plate final from the hosts’ second side. At Bloodfest they fielded a team in the Men’s Open bracket where they took down Quins 2 and West Texas before smashing Silicon Valley in the QF and Rock U23 in the SF. In the Men’s Open final it was all gas and no love as Grand Prairie geared up for a battle against Huns 2. Grand Prairie topped the Huns with their physicality, and took home the hardware plus a bonus point in the TOLA standings.
Many teams only entered into one TOLA tournament so far, which leave them behind on the standings, but are still teams of note. Updated standings are available here.