On June 18th weekend the Austin Huns hosted the biggest 7’s tournament west of the Red River; that’s right – Bloodfest 7’s in Round Rock, TX. The weather stayed in the double digits and the breeze kept up, providing a classically Texas hot but not miserable day. The weekend was a big one not just for teams entered in the tournament, but in terms of the TOLA and RRRC standings. There’s a lot to cover, so let’s dive in.
This tournament was the first of three RRRC Qualifier tournaments to be held over the summer, and teams who are seeking to qualify for the USA Rugby 7’s National Championship, battle it out to get the most standings points in the Red River; as the top team at the end of the three tournaments qualifies for Nationals. Teams are required to declare before the tournament if they are seeking RRRC qualifier points, and then are ineligible for TOLA points in the same tournament. [note that RRRC-seeking teams still get their TOLA points for non-RRRC tournaments. It’s kind of confusing, but only at the start of the summer]
Let’s look at the RRRC qualifying brackets first.
RRRC Qualifier Points
Dallas RFC – Red
Austin Huns – White
Six men’s teams entered Bloodfest seeking RRRC qualification – the four listed above on the table, along with Gorilla Rugby and the Grand Prairie Mavericks. They were joined in the men’s premier bracket by NOLA and Austin Huns-Blue (playing for TOLA points). Two pools of four played each team in their pool, then went directly into semi-finals.
The hosts Austin Huns-White topped this pool, joined by the Dallas Harlequins, NOLA, and Gorilla Rugby. The Huns finished on top with a 3-0 record, but it was never easy going. The Quins almost came from behind in the opening pool game, but the Huns snuck through 17-10. The next match was closer, with Gorilla a point behind 15-14. The final match was against NOLA who was also 2-0 at that point. Austin managed to win with a bit more convincing 22-10, but it was all nerves entering the semi-final. NOLA would compete in the other semi-final as the second seed out of Pool A.
Dallas RFC were kings in Pool B; joined by the Austin Blacks, Grand Prairie, and the Austin Huns-Blue. The Huns-Blue were in the Men’s Open competition until the night before, when they graciously stepped in to cover Rugby HTX, who pulled out at the last moment. This swap required them to play all three pool matches at the same time as the Austin Huns-White, denying them of their committed 7’s coach. For their efforts and desire to keep the men’s premier bracket as fair as possible while sacrificing for the game, they were awarded an At-Large TOLA point by the TOLA 7’s Commissioner, which is shown in the TOLA table below.
Now for the rest of the drama in Pool B. The first matches were nail biters, with Dallas over the Blacks 19-7 and Grand Prairie over the Huns 12-7. This was great because the rest of the pool matches left little excitement unless you were on the winning side. Dallas blanked Grand Prairie and Huns – Blue scoring a combined 88 points over those two games. The Austin Blacks also regathered and annihilated the opposition with a combined 64-12. The Blacks and the Dallas RFC would advance.
The two semi-finals had Dallas RFC against NOLA and the Austin Huns-White facing the Austin Blacks. Dallas continued to mesh as the day went on, and the semi-final was no exception. The boys in red looked as smooth as butter as they ran in try after try, taking down NOLA an impressive 47-0. The other semi-final was a classic Austin derby, the Huns versus the Blacks. The Huns ran out to a 12-0 lead, scoring two tries as the Blacks struggled to keep up. The second half looked like it belonged to the Blacks as they regrouped and struck straight at the Huns with two quick tries to bring the score even. The Huns never panicked as they relied on their system to get quick ball and open a gap. Eventually it did and it was Spencer McManes who would find his way over the goal line for the Huns. The Austin Blacks turned up the heat in the final few moments, but it would be a spicy turnover on the final play by the Huns, who regained possession and kicked the ball out for the win.
In the Premier Shield Final, the Huns-Blue took on Gorilla Rugby; with both teams looking for their first win of the day. It would be a back and forth match, with the Huns-Blue scoring at the death to win 26-21.
The third place teams in each pool would compete for the Bowl Final, Grand Prairie against the Dallas Harlequins. That match was all Harlequins as they won 42-7.
In the 3rd place match, the Austin Blacks would take on NOLA. Two tired teams would give it all they had, but it would be NOLA at the end, 19-12.
The final match of the men’s premier was what we all hoped it would be. An epic rematch of the Lone Star final the weekend before – Dallas RFC against the Huns-White. Dallas looked incredibly dominant throughout pool play and their semi-final; and the Huns were gelling as the weeks went by. It was Dallas for the first minute, as their attack moved all the way to the goal line, but a knock on would find its way into the arms of the Huns who would take it back threatening Dallas’ 22. A turnover penalty to Dallas had them swinging it across the field, unable to break through the Huns defense. A long kick through would bounce high, and land in the arms of Hayden Hill, as he ran under the posts to score first for Dallas.
After the kickoff, a few handling errors resulted to scrums to Dallas. On one, Dallas found space taking the short line around the scrum and fending their way in, another try on the board. The Huns found their way into the in-goal area thanks to Brandon Johnson and one of his signature runs. Dallas would own the rest of the match though, scoring twice. Final score 28-5, Dallas RFC on top.
In the Women’s Premier bracket, we had two teams submit rosters and wish to be considered for RRRC points. Seven teams entered the Women’s Premier competition – the two above were joined by the Hartford Harpooners, Alliance, sHARCs-Blue, Maulgaritaville, and Rock Rugby Academy. Alliance had a tough day at the office, dropping to the Harpooners and Rock Rugby Academy before dropping from the competition all together. sHARCs-Red went 3-0 including a narrow defeat over the Harpooners 19-17 in the second round of pool play. sHARCs-Blue tied with Austin in the opening match of the day, then both chalked up a win over Maulgaritaville in the following rounds. Rock Rugby would go 1-2 thanks to their win over Alliance in round 2. The Lady Harpooners were 2-1, with their wins over Alliance and Rock.
The top four teams would enter the semi-finals while the bottom two (and Alliance who had dropped out) would proceed to a round robin. The sHARCs-Red took on the Austin Valkyries while the Lady Harpooners battled the sHARCs-Blue. In the consolation match, it would be Rock Rugby Academy against Maulgaritaville.
The Lady Harpooners versus sHARCs-Blue was mostly one way traffic. The Harpooners took control of the match and kept the pace up, finding the goal line five separate times in 14 minutes. The sHARCs would score once, but it would be the Harpooners booking their ticket to the final 31-5. On the other side of the bracket it was the top seed, sHARCs-Red against the Austin Valkyries. Two teams that are incredibly familiar with one another, so neither had a leg up entering the match. The sHARCs got on the board first after stealing a scrum and the quick feet of Bria Miller. The Valks responded, taking the ball up the middle thanks to their strong forwards and finally swinging it wide to score in the corner. The score at half, 7-5. The sHARCs would start the second half in impressive form, with Megan Goode thundering up the pitch. The Valkyries would strike back again after stringing together many impressive phases, but a score at the death by the sHARCs were enough to punch them through to the final.
In the final match of the day, sHARCs-Red took on the visiting Lady Harpooners. A match worthy of being a final, the sHARCs kicked off and scored within the minute. On the second kickoff, the Harpooners came to their senses and countered – sending the winger on a galloping run the length of the pitch to score. A yellow card for a deliberate knock-on by Harpooners could have been the free pass the sHARCs were looking for if not for a brilliant steal and pass to send the Harpooners the length of the pitch again. Finally the sHARCs found some space and managing to step a few defenders, touched down between the uprights to make the score 14-10. After a try in the second half by the Harpooners, sHARCs had an uphill battle to climb. 19-10, a two-score match, with only three minutes to play. Three minutes of heart-racing excitement followed as sHARCs, managing to score with a minute left to play, had possession with time expired. Pass after pass as they tried to find space in the Harpooners stout defense; and when one did, Leslie Schroeder took it at pace. Through the defensive line and untouched, Schroeder would touch the ball down for the sHARCs, claiming them the title, 22-19.
There are two more RRRC qualifying tournaments this summer, the next being Hell or High Water 7’s in Houston on July 9th. As history shows; it’s not over until it’s over. And until then, it’s anyone’s game.
Bloodfest is also the second stop on the 2022 TOLA schedule, and all other teams (not RRRC point-seeking) play for points to drive them to the top of the TOLA Championship Standings table.
Austin Huns – White*
Austin Huns – Gold
Austin Huns – Blue
Dallas RFC – White
Dallas RFC – Red*
*These teams are playing for RRRC Points. They do not lose any TOLA points earned at TOLA-only tournaments.
At Bloodfest, the two TOLA-only brackets were the Men’s Open and the Women’s Social. A few teams participating in the premier brackets received TOLA points as they elected to “play-up” and challenge themselves with harder competition. This however does not take away from the maximum available TOLA points awarded to the winner of the TOLA-only bracket. So you can play up, challenge yourself, and still get TOLA points – but you don’t lose out if you just wish to play in the TOLA bracket. What makes this hilarious? Well, all three Austin Huns teams are currently tied on TOLA points. At least for now; with the Huns-White playing up in RRRC, that will change.
So what happened at Bloodfest that led to these standings? Let’s look at the men’s and women’s separately.
In the Women’s social division, we had another wonky 9-team bracket that led to a couple pool games, then to quarter-finals (with the top two having a bye) or out to a round robin consolation. Dallas, Cumiyais, and the Lady Quins looked good, all emerging 2-0 after the pool play rounds. Going 1-1 were the Austin Valkyries, Grand Prairie, and Round Rock Rage. DARC, Try-ranosaurus Rex, and Bay Area relegated to the consolation pool play after all going 0-2.
In the consolation rounds, Try-ranosaurus Rex finally found some momentum and put up bigger numbers, toppling DARC 22-0 and Bay Area 25-0. Bay Area got the final win over the day 28-0 over DARC. A high note to end their Bloodfest on.
In the quarter-finals, Cumiyais and Dallas earned the bye-round, while Austin battled the Lady Quins and Grand Prairie took on Round Rock Rage. The Quins were too strong for Austin and soared to a 24-0 win. Grand Prairie and Round Rock was a tighter match-up as Grand Prairie won 14-5.
The semi-finals had Cumiyais against Grand Prairie and Dallas taking on the Lady Quins. Cumiyais scored early and scored often, beating Grand Prairie 31-14. Dallas put on quite a show, and shut out the Lady Quins side 12-0. In the final, Cumiyais kept up their winning ways, keeping the ball alive through offloads and quick restarts to beat Dallas 26-14. In the 3rd place match, the Lady Quins regrouped and managed to take down fellow North Texans, Grand Prairie 24-12. Round Rock Rage had a try-frenzy against a tired Austin Valkyries, winning the Bowl 38-0.
The Men’s Open had 9 teams as well. There was a bit of reconfiguration as Austin Huns-Blue stepped up into premier and then Austin Huns-Gold stepped up into Men’s Open to cover what Huns-Blue had left. Lots of stepping from the Huns sides and not just from Jon Little. Going 2-0 in pool play were San Antonio, Huns-Gold, and Raggamuffins 7’s. Dallas-White, West Houston, and Woodlands all went 1-1; leaving Waco Wombats, Tulsa, and Fort Worth winless after pool play.
In the consolation rounds, Fort Worth found their first win over Tulsa 17-12. They followed that up with another over Waco 27-17. The final match of the consolation round robin had Tulsa bag a win over Waco, 31-14.
The quarter-finals had the Austin Huns and Raggamuffins with the bye; letting Dallas rematch against San Antonio and the Woodlands slug it out with West Houston. Dallas righted a few wrongs and after the 14-12 defeat in pool play, turned it around on San Antonio and stole a win 26-21. West Houston and Woodlands battled to the death as well, with West Houston leaving battered, bruised, and victorious 19-14.
The semi-finals were Dallas against Raggamuffins 7’s and Austin Huns against West Houston. Dallas kept up the energy from the last win and ran full-steam against Raggamuffins, turning a convincing 38-12 win. West Houston put up another phenomenal show, a full 14-minutes of grit and passion; but fell short at the final hurdle. Austin was better rested, and it gave them the final push to score one more try, final score 28-21.
And then there were two. Austin Huns-Gold against Dallas RFC-White in the finals. One day I’ll stop saying “A tale as old as time” but before I do, these two have got to stop meeting in the finals like this. It’s like they love the drama. And sure enough, this match was full of drama. The Huns would start it off, swinging the ball across the pitch in an effort to find a weak spot in the Dallas defense. Dallas would force Austin into a maul, and cause them to lose the ball forward to a Dallas scrum. Shortly after, Mateo Garcia found a free ball bouncing on the ground, picked it up and ran, only to be high-tackled by a Dallas defender. A few more penalties by Dallas sent the Huns closer to their goal-line, but a crunching tackle by Dallas led to a turnover. We’d stay scoreless for 6 minutes in the first half, until Jeff Sherman found space on the outside and escaped a tackle to score first for the Huns. There was time for one more kickoff and the Huns decided that was time for one more score. Riding high, the Huns entered the halftime 12-0. The second half, Dallas threatened – finding the goal-line after the Huns’ discipline fell in the 9th minute. The last five minutes was pure defense, both sides locking down to prevent the other from scoring. The final play it was Jon “Biff” Little who in prime position, got hands on the ball from an isolated Dallas player. The penalty awarded for the turnover and the Huns kicked to touch. A quick secure ball from the top of the lineout, kick to touch, and the final whistle blew. Huns-Gold 12 to Dallas RFC-White 5.
The next TOLA tournament is also Hell or Highwater 7’s in Houston, TX hosted by the Houston Athletic Rugby Club on July 9th. The rest of the summer schedule can be found here.
As always, this wrap-up is written with unbiased love and comedic effort. If you want more detail about your club to be added, it greatly helps to post photos and correct rosters via social media – Kat