2019 College 7s National Championships Recap

73 teams whittled down to 6 national champions.

After three days of hard fought competition, the 2019 USA Rugby College 7s National Championships have been decided at the Kino Sports Complex in Tucson, AZ. Men’s play concluded on Saturday where Lindenwood, Lindenwood- Belleville and North Carolina State won the D1A, D1AA and D2 divisions, respectively. The Women’s brackets were wrapped up on Sunday, with Lindenwood, Air Force and Bryant, winning the Elite, D1 and D2 competitions.

The event was a success and helped showcase the future of the olympic sport. Women's National Team Head Coach, Chris Brown noted "It was brilliant, to enhancement in play from 2016, the last time I was at this event." Brown continued, "The awareness and game sense has improved a lot, especially with the core varsity teams. A testament to the progression of coaches in this country." 

It wasn't only coaching Brown say an improvement in, he also noted the increase in the quality of the players, "This tournament is an opportunity for us to check in on a number of players we're already aware of, and of course keep an eye on each team to see if there are any physical, athletic players new to the sport."  

 

Men’s D1A:

Lindenwood, for the third year in a row were crowned 7s National Champions. They took down American International College, for the second time in two days, 36-0, in the championship game to secure the three-peat. Lindenwood cruised through their pool matches, going 3-0 scoring 101 points and only conceding 12. They were tested throughout their playoff matches, Ohio State held them close, before falling off in the second half. In their semifinal match, the Lions had to overcome a 14-point deficit  entering the second half against Central Washington to make it through. The Championship game was not as tightly contested. Wesley White, scored two of his four tries in the match, during the opening minutes to establish an early lead. From there the Lions pinned their ears back showed why they were the two time defending champions. Alongside White, Christian Rodriguez and Evan Williams had tremendous tournaments scoring ten tries and 76 points, respectively.

National Champions: Lindenwood

Runner-up: American International College

3rd Place: Davenport

Plate: Ohio state

Bowl: Northeastern

Shield: USC

Women’s Elite:

Lindenwood for the second year in a row have won both the 15s and 7s national championships. The Lions beat Dartmouth, after losing to them in pool play to wrap up the championship, 24-7. Lindenwood’s 2019 tournament heavily mirrored their 2018 campaign. After dropping a match in pool play, they would go on to face the team that beat them in the National Championship. Last year it was Penn State, this year it was Dartmouth. Lindenwood won their first two games of the weekend, 36-0 and 34-0. They stumbled in the final game of the pool stages, falling to Dartmouth, 15-12. The Lions shrugged off the loss and won their  semifinal against Harvard in comfortable fashion, 36-7. After Dartmouth beat Life, the stage was set for an exciting rematch. It was clear early on Lindenwood had learned from past mistakes. With a 12-0 lead heading into the half, the game was still there for the taking, but Lindenwood looked to be fully in control. A try to Dartmouth in the opening stages of the second stanza made things a little too close for comfort in the eyes of the Lions, but a try to Caring De Freitas helped alleviate the pressure and secure the Championship. De Freitas was the recipient of the MVP award, but Teresa Bueso Gomez and Kodi Barlow both played massive roles in getting the Lions to the championship.

National Champions: Lindenwood

Runner-up: Dartmouth

3rd Place: Harvard

Bowl: Central Washington

Shield: Penn State

Men’s D1AA:

Lindenwood-Belleville entered this tournament under tumultuous circumstances, with their university set to close down. However, the Lynx overcame tremendous adversity to claim the national title. Running through the weekend, the men from Illinois were hardly challenged. They made it through pool play without dropping a game and never playing from behind. They then faced Oregon State in their quarterfinal, where they won 36-5. The semifinal against St. Joseph’s was their first real test, and for most of the game they trailed. After conceding a try in the opening two minutes, Lindenwood rattled off 15 unanswered to close the game and advance into the Championship against Western Michigan. Similarly to the semifinal, Belleville found themselves down early. However, a try before the half helped to swing momentum in their favor. Two quick tries in the second half put the match beyond doubt, 19-5. Championing the Lynx through their weekend and the championship match was Coleson Warner. Adding a try and two conversions, Warner was instrumental in the win. Jake Jacobson was also a key contributor in the Lynx’s championship run adding seven tries over the weekend and 40 points in total.

National Champions: Lindenwood Belleville

Runner-up: Western Michigan

3rd Place: Mary Washington

Plate: Stanford

Bowl: Western Washington

Shield: Nebraska
 

Women’s D1:

Air Force is starting to build somewhat of a dynasty. After winning the 2018 7s national and Fall 15s championships, they have added their first bit of silverware for 2019. From the start of the tournament to the close, it was evident that Air Force was a class above their competition. They went through pool play without dropping a game or a point and won by an average margin of 36 points. They faced Princeton in their semifinal and found themselves down early. However, the early concession of points did not faze the defending champions, as they reeled off 32 unanswered points to secure their shot at defending their title. They took on Virginia Tech in the championship, a team that had been equally dominant throughout the competition. The scoreboard was slow to tick over, but the game was played at a frantic pace. Each team was throwing their best shot at the other, but both teams were able to see them off. Eventually Adrienne Yoder broke the deadlock shortly before the half to give Air Force a 7-0 lead. Virginia Tech knew they had to score next and did so accordingly. However, two tries in two minutes sealed the match for Air Force and handed them their second 7s title in as many years. Team captain Sara Cook was named MVP for an immense defensive effort which included two try saving tackles.

National Champions: Air Force

Runner-up: Virginia Tech

3rd Place: Princeton

Bowl: Northeastern

Shield: Colorado

 

Men’s D2:

A rocky start to the tournament saw North Carolina State almost fall out of contention after Day 1. However a tremendous second day performance from the Wolfpack helped them on their way to glory. After finishing 1-2 in pool play, North Carolina State were left languishing in purgatory with a very real threat of missing the cup playoffs. Despite the slow start NC State made it through and made every game count. The blew by UNC Charlotte in the quarterfinals, 33-7, to set up a showdown with Iowa Central Community College. Falling down into a 15-0 hole at half time, it looked like the run was over; however, NC State found a spark in the second half and scored 19 unanswered to wrap up a national championship berth. The National Championship was a rematch of the 2018 Fall 15s Championship, with their opponent being UW-Whitewater. The Wolfpack found themselves down early but, displaying their trademark resiliency, came back  into a 14-5 lead. Whitewater brought it back to a two-point game shortly after the second half kicked off. That was as close as the Warhawks would get, a tries to Charles Harrocks and Cole Baldyga secured the championship for NC State. Jack Kiernan was awarded the MVP, for his masterful conducting of the backline and work in and around the breakdown.

National Champions: North Carolina State

Runner-up: UW Whitewater

3rd Place: Iowa Central Community College

Plate: UNC Charlotte

Bowl: Montana State

Shield: IUPUI

Women’s D2:

Bryant University were declared women’s D2 national champions after a competitive run of games during the tournament. While they did not win in the most emphatic style, Bryant played with a strong sense of belief and competitiveness. Their belief was put on full display during the semifinal. Entering the game, on the back of dropping a pool match the prior day, Bryant were keen to make amends and show they were a legitimate contender. They managed to do that with an immense performance against Claremont; downing them 27-7. They shot out to an early 22-0 lead just after the start of the second half and rode the lead into the fulltime whistle. Their final was against newly crowned 2019 Spring 15s champions, Fresno State. It looked like a tooth and nail affair on paper and it lived up to its billing. Bryant riding the momentum from their semi, came out to a quick 17-0 lead. However, they left the door open to Fresno State and the Bulldogs took full advantage going on a 19-5 run to close the match. Their final points came seconds before the end of the match, declining a conversion attempt so they would have time for the game winning try, Fresno State were unable to regather possession from the kick off and Bryant held on. Center Melissa Mallahan ,was awarded the games’ MVP for impressive defense and marshaling Bryant in attack.

National Champions: Bryant

Runner-up: Fresno State

3rd Place: Claremont

Bowl: Cal Poly

Shield: Babson