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Time Ripe for HS Elite 7s Series

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Time Ripe for HS Elite 7s Series

Action from the Boys HS Elite 7s at the LVI - just one of the top-level tournaments that players and teams have proven they will attend. David Barpal photo.

After the success of recent elite-level high school 7s tournaments, the idea of a series of such events is gaining interest.

The NAI 7s in Utah was just the latest in a series of High School Elite 7s tournaments, such as the HSRC at the CRC weekend in Chester, Pa., the LVI, and Victoria 7s, that attracted top select-side teams from around the USA and Canada. With these tournaments also getting plenty of compliments for how they are organized (NAI 7s especially), the time might be ripe for a true Elite Series.

"The whole reason to do it should be to expose players to high-level competition and get the players in front of college coaches so they can be seen," said Biddy Boyle, who helps run the Atlantis  program that has participated in most of the elite-level events. "You'd have to make it a North American series so you could include Canada, Mexico, and Caribbean teams. But there is a real demand, and if we can tap into that demand, we can bring more sponsors to the game."

The NAI 7s boasted some very impressive live webstream numbers, and crowds were solid, too, and in fact the four food trucks at the venue sold out. Players had amenities and discounts to area attractions, top referees were flown in, and college coaches scouted the players.

It all came together in Utah, but other tournaments have at least some of those aspects, along with high-level play. Atlantis, HS All Americans, Utah Lions, Eagle Impact Rugby Academy, ATAVUS, Rhino Rugby Academy, Upright Rugby Rogues, BC Elite, DMV (formerly Maryland Exiles), and Play Rugby USA have all sent teams to at least some, and sometimes all of the major all-star level HS 7s competitions. On the girls side, the story is very similar (albeit with fewer teams).

The demand, say coaches, is there. The will, say coaches, if obvious since players and teams have shown up already. Word is that a formal series could be in place by 2017.