The TOLA season culminates in Shreveport, Louisiana for Riverboat 7s. Although one may look at the standings and think it’s all tied up, there’s a little more to the story and it makes for one exciting weekend at hand. Without the typical RRRC 7s qualifiers this summer, the TOLA competition was expanded and included many of the clubs we historically see representing TRU at the National Club 7s Tournament. More stops were also added – and this final tournament is week 7. Although clubs could participate in as many tournaments as they wished, only their top four results would be counted towards the TOLA point table. More information on the TOLA 7s structure and schedule can be found here.
Below are the top 4 standings leading into the championship weekend, while the full standings can be found here.
|Men’s TOLA||Points||Women’s TOLA||Points|
|Austin Huns||26||Austin 1||24|
|Grand Prairie||19||Dallas Quins||10|
|Dallas RFCGrand PrairieAustin 2AllianceRound Rock Rage|
The sHARCs took home the hardware from River City 7s in Austin, TX on July 24th, extending their streak to two tournaments in a row. Unfortunately they are too far behind Austin Valkyries to catch up in the point standings. With both Austin and sHARCs out of the tournament this weekend, this standing will be final come Saturday.
Dallas Quins would have a chance to catch close behind sHARCs by attending and taking home first this weekend, but they too are absent. Fayetteville, ARPTC, DARC and Alliance will be in attendance. The exciting note here is that Alliance will break the current five-way tie for 4th place, and are guaranteed to finish fourth in the standings just by showing up. If they manage to clench first, they will leapfrog the Quins and land in third place for the TOLA season – not shabby for a newer club on the scene.
ARPTC is a regular on the RRRC 7s circuit, but notably absent this summer from TOLA as they have participated in other tournaments. Typically a strong club, ARPTC is a recognized USA Rugby National Development Program for 7s and that shows on the pitch. We are unsure of the players they will be bringing to Shreveport, as they stepped in at the last minute to help fill the bracket. We are glad to see them, and will be excited to see what they bring to the competition.
Fayetteville Phoenix are also new to the TOLA scene, and provide a nice change in competition for TRU clubs DARC and Alliance. We’re not really sure who will match up well against whom this weekend, so you’ll just have to be there to see it unfold live.
It’s nice when things are already clean and wrapped up before the tournament happens. Unfortunately, this is not the case for the TOLA Men’s Championship. Let’s dive into it!
The Austin Huns currently have 26 points from their top 4 finishes (3-first place, 1-second place). The Dallas RFC have 24 (2-first place, 2-second place). If Huns win Saturday, Huns win it all. If Dallas wins Saturday, there is a table point tie between the Dallas RFC and the Austin Huns. According to the TOLA/RRRC Rules and Regulations, the tie is first broken by a head to head comparison. Currently the Austin Huns are 3-1 over the Dallas RFC in TOLA play. If Dallas wins Saturday by beating the Austin Huns, the Huns still go home with the TOLA Championship.
So, you may be thinking, there’s no chance Austin can lose this Championship right? Enter the fine print. According to the TOLA rules and regulations “2 ‘at large’ points may be awarded at each TOLA Series event at the discretion of the TOLA Commissioner for a team or teams (1 pt. each) that display character that exemplifies the spirit of rugby”. Now, we haven’t seen these points be used all season, but this is rugby and it ain’t over till it’s over. So, should Dallas RFC take home the win AND manage to “display character that exemplifies the spirit of rugby” that hasn’t been seen this season and clench that all important at-large point; they can take home the TOLA championship on Saturday.
Now if this was just an Austin Huns vs Dallas RFC standoff, things would be smooth sailing all the way until the final. But this is Texas rugby… so we know it’s not. Grand Prairie is also on the scene this weekend. Grand Prairie who has continued to connect and flow throughout the entire season. Grand Prairie who managed to combine big hits, delicate footwork, and thrilling tries to keep us entertained all season. They are certainly not a target that either Austin or Dallas can expect to catch unawares. Grand Prairie themselves can’t get higher than 3rd this TOLA season. A first place finish would drop their 4th place finish from River City, but only net them an additional 4 points, leaving them at 23, one shy of the Dallas RFC. We don’t expect this to dampen their shine though, Grand Prairie has never been in this for the glory, it’s just a nice addition.
Another massive pillar in the way of Austin or Dallas’ success is Rugby HTX. Bolstered with a few Houston Sabercats, HTX impressed in Austin. In their first match of the day, they fought tooth and nail to hold on to a win against home team Austin Blacks. In the 4th minute, a HTX player was sent off, forcing them to play with six for the last 10 minutes of play. When it was tied at the final minute, it all seemed hopeless, until HTX picked off a scrum near the goal line and managed to capture the win at the death. They repeated this dramatic fashion in match 2, busting another tie at the death to take home the win. A loss in the last pool play game of the day and in the Semi-Final, led them to the 3rd place match-up against Grand Prairie where they won a close one. With a first-place win this weekend, HTX can jump into third, as long as Grand Prairie gets fourth, or if HTX can beat Grand Prairie on the day and Grand Prairie loses in the semi-finals. It’s all in the details between those two.
So, clear as mud heading into Shreveport this weekend. Some may win the tournament, others may win the TOLA title, and two have a chance to win it all. Find out Saturday.