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NAI7s Announces Changes for 2017

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NAI7s Announces Changes for 2017

The North American Invitational 7s tournament has made changes to the 2017 tournament, working with USA Rugby to level the playing field in the open divisions, and to secure both a referee training course and panel refs for tournament. 

The NAI7s organizers have made a modification to the open divisions at the NAI7s that would preclude All-Star teams from competing in the open divisions. “We want to promote the open division for the school, clubs, and academy developmental teams throughout North America,” said organizer and Utah Rugby Academy president Michael Cressler, “We want to provide not only an incredible rugby experience but an equitable one as well. If you want the elite experience participating against the best in North America then great but if not, you’re not going to run into an elite squad playing down in an Open division.” 

There are already talks about adding a U17 elite divisions in 2018 as well as a D2 style open division for up and coming organizations.  Registrations are showing interest already. As of March 22, 2017 there are already more teams registered for the tournament that there were at kickoff in 2016.

In addition, 2017's NAI7s will be an important development ground for referees. Rugby Utah Referee Society President Paul Benson and tournament ref coordinator Eric Swapp are working with USA Rugby to create a referee training course leading up to the tournament that will allow practical evaluations to be done at the tournament itself. With referee educators onsite at the tournament to provide evaluations, plus every game being recorded, referees will be able to get rapid feedback on performance.  Emphasis will be placed on youth and collegiate aged referees with no less than three referee educators onsite to train and evaluate. The tournament is also garnering the attention of some top referees. Leah Berard has confirmed her attendance at the tournament as has Karen Fong Donahue. In addition to her duties as a referee and educator, she will be hosting a college night on Thursday August 3 for interested players and parents. Karen is owner of Ruggers Edge in addition to being a top-flight rugby educator.  Interested referees please contact Paul Benson at  paul.benson184@gmail.com

Colleges and universities will participate in the College Night on August 3. About 86 high school rugby teams will be in attendance, including the top North American HP programs competing for the North American High School 7s championship; it is a great time to scout, recruit and meet with potential student-athletes. The tournament will supply rosters, stats and video of the games available to players, teams and coaches to help with the recruitment process. Collegiate teams who wish to participate in the College Night, please contact Michael Cressler at info@nai7s.com for more information.

On the broadcast side, 2017 NAI7s will also bring a new voice to the commentary booth. Goff Rugby Report Editor Alex Goff and Liz Entwhistle will be manning the microphones for commentary on field 1. Additional guest commentary will come from local and visiting collegiate coaches as they observe the games. The tournament is also adding a 2nd camera for replays and more angles on the field. Like 2016, all finals will be played on field 1 as will most of the elite NAHS7s games. There will also be additional open division games streamed live from field 1 as the tournament organizers create space to showcase all talent. All fields will be taped with games being put up on YouTube or downloaded via Vimeo with 24-48 hrs.