Thursday, July 24, 2014

"Battle in the Bay" 7s Tournament Returning to San Francisco

The preeminent Rugby 7s event on the West Coast is returning to the Bay Area. On October 25th and 26th of this year, the “Battle in the Bay” Tournament will once again be held at Golden Gate Rugby’s Ray Sheeran Field, located on Treasure Island.

The event, now entering its second year, was an overwhelming success last year for both players and fans alike. The two-day tournament featured one of the finest assemblies of rugby talent on the West Coast combined with plenty of food and refreshments from local San Francisco eateries and a gorgeous location to provide a unique experience not found anywhere else.

This year’s tournament will look to enhance that experience even further by adding a brand new information fair. Starting day one of the tournament, each participating team will set up an information booth at the event that will not only provide information about each school to fans but also allow prospective students to gain information about admission and the respective rugby programs. This should not only be a welcome addition for fans to learn more about the other teams in the tournament but also allow parents and kids alike a chance to access information about schools previously unknown to them and expose more people to the advantages that participating in rugby can provide.

However, all the aesthetics and amenities in the world would mean nothing without quality rugby to back it up, and this year’s tournament will look to improve on last year’s already impressive collection of quality rugby programs. Last year, 16 programs participated in the event, seven of whom had participated in the 2012 Rugby 7s National Championships the previous year in addition to Cal, the defending CRC Champion at the time. This year, the tournament will look to have 16 highly skilled teams once again with the possibility of expanding to 24 teams if interest is high enough.

Helping in this matter is USA Rugby’s designation of the “Battle in the Bay” as a qualifying tournament for the Rugby 7s National Championship to be held in the Spring of 2015. With this in mind, 12 top level schools from up and down the West Coast have already agreed to participate, with room for more to follow. So far the field is once again highlighted by defending D1-A Champion and 7s National Champion Runner-Up St. Mary’s, as well as defending CRC Champion Cal. Also returning is Central Washington, who took 3rd place at the 7s National Championship, and Arizona State, who won the Consolation Bracket. Rounding out the field so far are respected programs such as former CRC Champion Utah, San Diego State, UCLA, Cal Poly SLO, and Santa Clara, as well as up and coming programs such as University of San Diego, University of Washington, and Western Washington. Who will fill out the last four, or possibly more, slots is still unknown at this time, but invites have been sent to schools such as UC Santa Barbara, University of Colorado, Colorado State, and the Air Force Academy as well as all the schools who participated in last year’s event.

No matter who fills the last few slots, it is clear that this event is once again shaping up to be a must see event. For any die-hard rugby fan the quality of play presents more than enough reason to attend but even for those unaccustomed to rugby the tournament could stand as an excellent introduction into the ins and outs of 7s Rugby as we get closer and closer to Rio 2016 and the reintroduction of rugby into the Olympics.

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