Club championship attendees Fallbrook and Danville. /// Photo: Stacey Savin
The Girls High School Club Championship is shaping up nicely, but organizers are looking to build out the competition for the inaugural event, to be held May 21-22 on DI varsity Central Washington’s campus.
At present, seven teams have committed to the tournament, and they represent some of the best teams in the country. Fallbrook is the five-time national champion and one of five Californian sides in the competition. The Warriors are joined by Danville, who have proven to be Fallbrook’s best spring competition. Since entering the national tournament, each year has seen the Lady Oaks finish higher in the final standings, ending in third last year.
Kent advanced to last year’s final for the second time in three years and will be tuning up for the post-season with a tour of New Zealand this spring. The Sacramento Amazons are back and ready to re-establish themselves on the national stage, as is fellow NorCal team Pleasanton. The Cavaliers won the DII national championship in their first outing and returned for a fourth-place finish at last year’s DI nationals.
South Bay is hoping to make a similar jump. The Spartans won the DII tournament last year and have reinforced the ranks with higher-level talent.
Morris represents the lone club from the East Coast, and the New Jersey side sets a good example for dedication to the event. The previous three national championships have been held in the Midwest and on East Coast, and Morris will benefit from playing the best teams in the country.
The tournament committee has received verbal commitments from teams like Land Park Harlequins, and a couple of sides from Utah have also expressed interest. But the ideal is to have 16 teams in two divisions, accommodating different levels of play.
But it’s not just competition from which participants will benefit. Coaches from varsity, DI and DII colleges will be on hand, as will scouts for the Girls High School All Americans and Atavus. Regular attendees have alumni playing around the country, from Ivy League schools to scholarship-offering institutions.
“Over 90% of the girls playing rugby in college did not play in high school, so the girls at this high school championship have a huge competitive advantage and an opportunity to have a major impact as they continue with their rugby careers,” said Rex Norris, head coach of Kent. “I have players going to various varsity programs such as Dartmouth, Harvard and Central Washington next year after first being seen at nationals in previous years.”