San Diego Surfers and Bulldog Win 2018 USA Rugby Club 7s National Championships

Exciting games trickled through Sunday's 7s Championship Rounds, as history was created on both sides of the tournament.

MANHATTAN, NEW YORK- In a day of electrifying speed, unbearable tension and gutsy performances, Bulldog Rugby and the San Diego Surfers go through their competition to win the 2018 USA Rugby Emirates Airline Club 7s National Championships. This was Bulldog's first National Championship, while it was the third for the San Diego Surfers.

Men's Cup:

Heading into Sunday's fixtures there was a sense of intrigue, as Saturday's results had provided more questions than answers. Teams came into the Cup playoffs each with a sense of belief that they could make it to the championship game. For Bulldog, there would be tests early and often, but if they knew beyond the quarterfinals lay a very real shot at the Championship.

In the quarterfinals they met Dallas Rugby, a team many predicted to win it all; however, Bulldog had other ideas. Shooting out of the gate early and establishing a solid fifteen-point lead was enough to see them through. It became a reoccurring theme through the day as they again opened a fifteen-point lead in their semifinal match and road it home against Mystic River. 22-7 and 15-7 were their respective results. 

Their opponents in the final, Belmont Shore, had a different journey to the championship match. They drew the home team, and one of the favorites, Old Blue of New York first. It was a tight affair and if it hadn't been for a knock on late they very well may have been watching the final from the sidelines. Belmont beating Old Blue 7-5. Their semifinal was a different story, they blew the doors off the Denver Barbarians booking their spot in the final thanks to a convincing score of 29-7. Keni Nasosqeqe was the catalyst for their rollicking start, scoring two tries in as many minutes. The stage was now set for a high-scoring fast paced final.

Bulldog got off to a hot start in the final as, Tim Stanfill of Bulldog, glidedng his way through the Belmont defense. However, Belmont, launched right back down, but poor discipline saw Belmont Shore alleviate the pressure they had been building and Bulldog pounced on their opportunity and doubled their lead to fourteen.

The second half was a defensive struggle with no points being scored in the first four and a half minutes. Eventually immense defense from Bulldog caused the mistake and once again they sprung on the chance and extended their lead to nineteen. Belmont, to their credit fought until the end scoring on the final whistle.

Women's Cup:

Saturday provided upsets surprises throughout, which led to one of the most intriguing Cup playoffs in recent memory. San Diego, had been one of the favorites throughout the lead up and solidified that status on day one. However, the one qualm analysts had about them was they had not been tested yet. That changed in a hurry when they came up against Rocky Mountain Magic in the quarters.

Rocky Mountain got out to an early lead and at half time the underdogs had the lead. The Surfers woke up in the second half come back to win comprehensively. Their awakening was thanks, in large part, to one of the biggest surprises of the tournament, Stephanie Rovetti. Despite having only been around a rugby ball for a few months, she has an innate sense for finding the try line and holes in the opposition's defense. As she continues her rugby career, she will be one worth keeping an eye on.

After their slow start to the quarters, the Surfers came out guns blazing in the semifinal. The start showed they were not taking anything for granted, establishing an early twenty-one-point lead. Led by Megan Foster, a capped Eagle and wily veteran, the Surfers jumped down the throat of American Rugby Pro Blue early and suffocated their opponent's attack. Advancing through to the final, 26-12.

Scion Sirens were the team which advanced to the final with the Surfers. However, they could have been hindered by their own success. Scion got off to a rocky start on Saturday but had bounced back to become the popular pick to win the Championship. They solidified people's belief in the quarterfinals, beating out the Atlanta Harlequins in an impressive showing where they scored five tries.

Life West Gladiatrix, awaited them in the semifinal. It was a matchup worthy of the final itself, as both teams dug deep and displayed an extraordinary exhibit of rugby. Life, had a horde of Eagles on their roster and they appeared to be a class above the Sirens early on. However, the Sirens, as had been the case all weekend, turned to Kiki Morgan for inspiration and she delivered. On Saturday, it was her attack that rescued them, on Sunday it was her defense. Repeatedly Morgan stepped up to the plate and delivered the crucial, poach hit or bit of pressure when it was needed the most.

Her defensive efforts kept the score-line in check and helped her team reverse momentum and put Life West under pressure, which isn't an easy thing to do. Sion scored the equalizing try in the final moments of the game and brought it to a 7-7 tie heading into overtime. Overtime was long wild and unpredictable, the only thing that was predictable was the if Scion were to win, it would be off the back of a stout defensive effort. That's exactly what it was that won it for them. A sharp pilfer of the ball and a quick eighty-yard dash gave Scion a try and almost six minutes into extra time the game had its winner.

As these two met, experts felt that given the circumstances of their remarkable win in the semis, they may be drained emotionally and physically, early on they were right. The Surfers leapt out to an early nineteen-point lead, and it looked as if the writing was on the wall. Rovetti, the eventual MVP bagged a double and Foster notched one up for good measure too.

The opening stages of the final stanza were tight neither team threatened with any real bite, but as time dwindled down, Siren's urgency elscalated. In the final two minutes Scion scored twice and looked threatening off the final restart with only half a minute remaining. The threat fizzled out and the Surfers kicked the ball into touch sealing their place in history as the only Women's team with three 7s National Championships to their name.  

Full list of Finals

Final MenWomen
BronzeMystic River Rugby 19- 12 Denver BarbariansLife West Gladiatrix 19-17 American Rugby Pro 
PlateDallas Rugby 17- 10 Washington Athletic New York Rugby Club 22-5 Berkeley All Blues
Bowl Kansas City Blues 26-19 Beltway EliteD.C. Furies 12-10 Phoenix Rugby 
Shield Cleveland Academy 36-19 Atlanta Old WhiteChicago Lions 19- 14 Boston Rugby