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Atlanta: A Festival of Opportunity

  • 05 Apr 2016

Scion is one of several elite teams competing at the Atlanta 7s Festival. /// Photo: Jackie Finlan


There’s nothing better than playing in an amateur rugby tournament and then watching professionals play the same game in person. That’s what the Atlanta 7s Festival and Atlanta 7s, the HSBC Women’s Seven Series tournament, are offering attendees at week’s end. But that’s not where the benefits end. Atlanta 7s Festival organizer First 15 Sport Performance has packed every minute between Friday-Sunday, April 8-10 with education and advancement opportunities.


As for the tournament itself, 28 high school, college and club teams populate competitive and elite brackets. Three National Development Academies – ARPTC, Northeast Academy, Scion – highlight the Elite Club. The unknown is Mad in 7s, a French side. The Elite College sees DI Elite Lindenwood and Life at the top of the pool, as well as varsity Harvard, which finished third at last weekend’s NCAA 7s tournament. In the high schools, Atlantis and Scion bring select sides, while Colorado’s Summit plays in its second big 7s event of the spring. South team TRIBE, which has committed to single-school nationals, also mixes up the lineup. The Norfolk Harvesters hail from Canada for a little international flavor.


“What I like about the festival is the range of programs and teams,” said tournament manager and First 15 Director of Performance Katie Wurst. “From Battleship, a brand-new team from Mobile, Ala., up to the ARPTC, a higher-level competitive program. That’s the true format of a festival. Everyone gets what they want and there’s a place for everyone.”


CIPPed individuals can also register without a team and will be placed on a single festival team (high school and club only). These teams will be led by USA Rugby Elite Coach Development Program coaches. Several individuals have already been tapped to fill in for the French Mad in 7s, which suffered a few injuries recently.


Additionally, First 15 secured training space so teams can arrive a day early, and streaming capabilities are currently be tested. More information on the availability of a tournament webcast will be released later this week. (Click here for full schedule.)


Outside of the tournament and Atlanta 7s, there are plenty of opportunities for education, credits and player identification. On Friday after the international games, First 15 will host “5 in 15,” a game development panel presentation featuring Wurst, National Panel referee Leah Berard and fellow referee/15s Eagle Jenny Lui, all of whom are experts in high-performance match officiating. Each speaker has five slides and 15 minutes to present, and then follows with a Q & A. The course will award professional development credits for USA Rugby coach certification.


First 15 Sport Performance is also available for individual team consulting. The practice teaches mental skills training and sports psychology counseling, in addition to providing sport management services. Co-founders Wurst and Katie Sjeklocha are longtime servants of the sport and have unique insight into the world of women’s rugby.


On Sunday, Try on Rugby is hosting a women-only USA Rugby Level 200 coaching course at Kennesaw State. Wurst is looking to further build out this education course, and urges interested parties to register via this link. Meanwhile, athletes are invited to a USA Rugby National Tracking Camp, where national team staff will evaluate attendees for inclusion in the upcoming National All Star Competition (NASC). The NASC is an entryway into the Women’s National Team pathway, 7s and 15s.


For complete information on the festival offerings, schedule, locations, means to register and more, read the tournament packet here. For more information on First 15 Sport Performance and its range of services, click here.


Atlanta 7s Festival Schedule

Friday, April 8

7 a.m. – 2 p.m. Festival play

12:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Atlanta 7s

9 p.m. – 10 p.m. First 15 Sports Performance “5in5”


Saturday, April 9:

8 a.m. – ­12 p.m. Festival play

12:30 p.m. – ­9 p.m. Atlanta 7s


Sunday, April 10:

8 a.m. – 5 p.m. USA Rugby Level 200 Coaching Course by Try on Rugby

9 a.m. ­- 2 p.m. USA Rugby Women’s National Team Tracking Camp


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