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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Elite LVI Divisions Taking Shape


The Las Vegas Invitational is only months away and already most of the spots in the top divisions are already taken. As in past years the LVI will have a CRC Qualifier, Men's Elite (now called America's Cup), Aces, Women's Elite, and U-18 Boys. Bear in mind that these are just preliminary lists of registered teams.

Men's Elite

This division is already closed and there are loads of top teams ready to duke it out. Last year's champions the Atavus All-Stars are back to defend their crown. They've won the tournament the last three years in a row but will face stiff competition from the Falcons, who are currently in South America, the Denver 7s All-Stars, the SCRFU Griffins, the Northeast ODA, and Davita. The Fijian side's inclusion in the tournament is only going to amp up the level of play and the have to be considered favorites alongside the Falcons, Atavus, and the Northeast ODA to win the whole thing.

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National teams in the tournament include Mexico, Cayman Islands, Italy, and Germany. The Germans were tough last year and it will be interesting to see what kind of team Italy puts out. If it's a team looking for practice for Olympic qualification they could be very tough. U.S. clubs teams in the division include the Florida ODA, Atlantis, US Army, Bridge City 7s, Stars 1, and Stars 2. Other teams we're not sure of include Sport Ively and the Black Dragons. 

Field: Denver 7's All Stars, Florida ODA, Elite Selects, SCRFU Griffins, Atavus All-Stars, Atlantis, Germany 7s, US Army, Bridge City 7s, Black Dragons, Cayman Islands 1, Cayman Islands 2, Italy, Sport Ively, Stars 1, Stars 2, Northeast ODA, Falcons, Davita Fiji, Mexico

CRC Qualifier

The field is still developing for the CRC Qualifier but already there are several intriguing sides. AIC made the final last year and will be back to do better. They are the heavy favorites at the moment but New England College could challenge them in 7s. Other teams that could play well include Miami (OH), Oklahoma, and Delaware. 

Right now only 13 of the 24 spots are filled but expect that to change. Other teams playing are St. Joe's, Lindenwood-Bellevill, Pittsburgh, Ohio, Northeastern, Harvard, James Madison, and Colgate. 

Field: New England College, St. Joe's, Miami (OH), Lindenwood-Belleville, Oklahoma, Pittsburgh, AIC, Ohio, Northeastern, Harvard, James Madison, Delaware, Colgate

Aces

Sometimes it seems like first come first serve on who makes the Men's Elite and who makes the Men's Aces division. This year is no different. Previous teams that have seen success in the Elite division are now in the Aces, like the Air Force and Mana Rugby. British Columbia is a side that could emerge as the winner, especially if they act as a Canada 'A' side. Atavus and Atlantis are fielding second sides in the competition while the Spearhead Rugby Academy, Rugby Quebec, the Chicago Lions, and Life West could provide good competition.

Field: Selects, Atavus, PNRFU Loggers, Atlantis, US Army, US Air Force, Kings Rugby, British Columbia, Spearhead Rugby Academy, Rugby Quebec, Life West, Upright Rugby Rogues, Humless 7s, Chicago Lions, Mana Rugby, South African All-Stars, East Annapolis Fire Department, Tama Laie Lions, Bend Rugby, Peru 7s

Women's Elite

This year's Women's Elite field is looking extremely strong. Led by two teams from the U.S. and two from Canada, both of who are almost certainly set to feature some top players, the tournament should be just short of the quality of a World Series stop. Other national teams set to play include Japan, France, Mexico, Brazil, and GB Select. That in and of itself is a strong field. Adding themselves into the mix are club powers Scion Sirens, the Northeast ODA, SCRFU Griffins, Atavus All-Stars, Atlantis, Stars 1, Stars 2, Atlanta Harlequins, and Rugby Quebec. 

Field: Brazil, Scion Sirens, SCRFU Griffins, Atavus All-Stars, Atlantis, GB Select, Atlanta Harlequins, Florida ODA, Japan, France, Maple Leafs Red, Maple Leafs White, Rugby Quebec, Stars 1, Stars 2, Northeast ODA, USA 1, USA 2, Mexico

U-18 Boys

The Boys U-18 division also looks strong. The High School All-Americans will once again field two teams while BC Rugby, Utah, the Washington Loggers, Utah Cannibals, and Upright Rugby Rogues all return. Other teams include Mexico, two teams from Rhino Rugby, Atlantis, Atavus, and the South Panthers.

Field: South Panthers, Atavus, Atlantis, HSAA 1, HSAA 2, Utah Rugby Academy, BCEY 7s, Rhino Rugby 1, Rhino Rugby 2, Maryland Exiles, Coastal Dragons, National Athletic Village Selects, Washington Loggers, Utah Cannibals, Upright Rugby Rogues, Mexico. 

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