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NAI 7s Signals Big Step Forward

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NAI 7s Signals Big Step Forward

Alex Goff photo.

The North American Invitational 7s completed its run of over 400 games with nine champions, and some observations from your learned editor.

See all the archived footage here - NAHS 7s - and here - NAI 7s - (if you’re a FloRugby Subscriber)

First off the champions, and why:

U14 Boys: Belmont Shore

More skilled and situationally aware than almost any team there, in middle school or college.

U14 Girls: Belmont Shore

Very skilled and very quick, and also quick of mind. They see the opportunity, and they take it. Dominant on defense.

U16 Boys: Canadian Misfits

Solid combination of power and skill, but it is the power in contact that did it in the end.

U16 Girls: Atlantis

Won on a late try over Maui and Maui was a good team. In the end it was a coast-to-coast try that won it for Atlantis.

U18 Boys: Rhinos

Teamwork. This group has been playing together a ton and they were able to absorb Belmont’s physicality and athleticism and survive.

U18 Girls: United

Well it was pretty even between the Aztecs and United, and maybe a little bit of home cooking put United over the edge 19-14.


Everything. They had some of the biggest guys, and those big guys had skill. They had some of the fastest guys, and those fast guys had power. They had playmakers, and the X-factor of Dominic Tianga, who is fast becoming a mini Danny Barrett.

U18 NAHS Girls: Atlantis

This almost went sideways for Atlantis but they won despite not having a big restart-winner as they have had in the past, and overall they weren’t very big. But they were tenacious, played superb cover defense, and ran and ran and ran.

U20 Men: Canadian Misfits

Massive, they used their size in smart ways, kicked well, defended aggressively, and played a grown-up game. But size and strength carried them.

Other Observations

Restarts are still a problem. A kicker under pressure to do an excellent job, perhaps after a game-tying try or in order to regain momentum, often screws up.

Too much adrenaline means a kick overcooked, but usually it was a kick not going ten meters. Why? Almost always it was because the kicker pulled his or her head up to see where the ball would go.

Keep your head down.

Passing Is Improved. This is especially true of young players, who are starting to reel off snappy passes off the weak hand or on the run.

With better passing comes better catching. They weren’t perfect, but it is way, way better than even two years ago.

Teamwork Wins. Look at Rock Rugby or Rebel or Herriman or Maui or Aztec Warriors ... all of these teams started winning and beating some top select sides because they know each other, and the players play together.

Girls sevens rugby has taken a massive step forward. The players have been in these programs for a few years now and they are learning. No more one pass and crash into the nearest tackler. No more slow games. These teams use the width of the field.

Brains, skills, and understanding are all better, and so is the coaching, as former Eagles and former top club players are finding great reward in helping these teams. This is just one more step, but it’s a good one.