The Atlantic Coast Rugby League introduced plans for a quartet of 7s tournaments, building up to its conference championship in October.
Slated for Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia, the 8- or 12-team events will reserve places for the league's 8 members, and award remaining slots to applicants. The series will feature one-day competitions, while the conference finals will be a two-day affair.
'The expansion from a single tournament to a series is a natural progression given the increasing popularity of rugby 7s. It will expose our teams to more and better competition while providing competition opportunities for collegiate teams outside of the ACRL,' commissioner Pat Kane said in a prepared statement.
In moving to establish competition for non-conference teams, the initiative suggests USARFU's designating autumn as the time for university 7s has caught on. Last fall, a flurry of tournaments sprang up after Boulder calendared a national championship event.
The Atlantic Coast Invitational Rugby 7s Series, as the series will be formally known, also confirms the three-year-old league as commercially nimble. A year ago, the ACRL struck a multiyear marketing and gear pact with adidas and World Rugby Shop, while its conference 7s championship is underwritten by the USA 7s organization.
Separately, USARFU and Bill Tatham's Grand Prix Entertainment last week said they had renewed a pact for exclusive rights to pro 7s rugby in America.
The six-year deal, until 2018, extends a relationship struck in 2005 and renewed in 2008. Though Grand Prix has yet to bring a product to market, the announcement unveiled a lineup of well-known sports executives.
A draft of the 2008 agreement put the financial terms at $900,000 over 4 years. Given that the initial agreement was inked during 2005's severe cash crunch, and that since 2008 the abbreviated game has entered the Olympics, USARFU's consideration has presumably improved.
7s regular Blaine Scully has damaged his achilles tendon, extending an injury streak, and will be out of action for the remainder of the season.
Mark Bokhoven, Nick Edwards, and Tai Enosa join the Eagle squad heading to the Hong Kong and Japan 7s, at the expense of Matt Hawkins, who was not in camp, and Garrett Bender and Miles Craigwell. Shalom Suniula will captain Alex Magleby's first team.
United States to Hong Kong and Japan 7s
Mark Bokhoven (Denver Barbarians), Andrew Durutalo (Old Puget Sound Beach), Nick Edwards (Sydney Univ.), Tai Enosa (USARFU), Colin Hawley (USARFU), Folau Niua (USARFU), Mike Palefau (undeclared), Nu’u Punimata (Old Puget Sound Beach), Shalom Suniula (captain, USARFU), Zack Test (USARFU), Peter Tiberio (USARFU), Maka Unufe (USARFU)