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LAI 7s Girls’ HS Division is Quality Rich

  • 22 Feb 2023
LAI 7s Rugby

[2.23 Update: Format for the girls’ HS division has completely changed to a one-day event, presumably to mitigate the damage on the grass fields during a rainy weekend. Competition starts with Round of 16 (1 v 16, 2 v 15, etc.) and teams filter into Cup, Plate, Bowl and Shield brackets from there. All teams play four games. Championship match scheduled for 5:10 p.m. Friday. See updated schedule.]


The Los Angeles Invitational (LAI) 7s occurs this Friday-Saturday, Feb. 24-25, and the multi-divisional event features four girls and women’s competitions. The High School Open is the largest with 16 teams, and they’ll do business at the CSU Long Beach rugby pitches, located approximately 15 miles from Dignity Health Sports Park, site of the LA 7s.

Most of the girls’ high school teams are from the West – namely California, but also Hawaii and Utah, which have sent two teams apiece. EIRA (roster) is bringing a widely representative team with players from eight states, and Montreal’s École Secondaire St. Joseph is the lone international side. Rhinos Rugby Academy is based in San Clemente but it has a nationwide player pool.

Teams are divided into four pools (see below), and all but Pool 4 have good geographic distribution. On Friday, teams play their three pool games, and then the top-two from each pool advance to Cup Quarterfinals (4:10 p.m. & 4:30 p.m.) to close out the day. The quarterfinalists are the only teams to play a fourth game on Friday, and the rest of the field will play up to two games on Saturday in Plate, Bowl and Shield competitions.

Saturday begins at 8 a.m. with the Cup semifinals, and the day ends with 12:20 p.m. Cup final.

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École Secondaire St. Joseph – Montreal, Canada
Pleasanton – NorCal
Rhinos Rugby Academy – SoCal-based, nationwide pool
United – Utah

Carondelet – NorCal
Eagle Impact Rugby Academy (EIRA) – nationwide
Kahuku – Hawaii
Provo – Utah

Fallbrook – SoCal
Harlequins Pink – NorCal
Long Beach Poly – SoCal
Pasifika – Hawaii

Bishop O’Dowd – NorCal
Harlequins Black – NorCal
SacPAL Amazons – NorCal
San Diego Mustangs – SoCal

The boys’ high school tournament is also at the college campus, and there are side-by-side, grass pitches to share. The rest of the event is at Dignity Health with a mix of grass and synthetic fields. There are pros and cons with the separation, but with steady rain in the forecast, a detour to the hotel to shower, drop off gear and layer up, could be a welcome pitstop before heading to the LA 7s stadium.

As for the competition itself, it’s always tough to know who’s going to show up for a 7s tournament. However, many of these teams are well established programs with experience at regional, national and even international tournaments. And there are historical match-ups – granted, from 15s – that bring those storied pasts to the forefront. The SacPAL Amazons are the reigning 15s club champions and they’ve produced current Eagles like Nana Fa’avesi, Lote Tausinga and Eti Haungatau. Kahuku (2018 single school), United (2017 & 2018 club) and Fallbrook (2011-15) are all former trophy bearers from 15s nationals.

SoCal teams are in-season and readying for their 7s championship, so expect some standard-setting from them. NorCal has just kicked off its 10s and 15s season, but the single-school reps also play a full fall 7s season and know the game well. Pleasanton has brought teams and has approximately 50 players this spring. Provo (in combination with Wasatch) won the Utah 7s title in the fall.

Rhinos and EIRA are USA Pathways National Development Programs. Rhinos hasn’t released a roster but EIRA has and it features players who know each other from winter camp and/or the summer 15s tour to Ireland. Canadian teams are always a threat and bring an extra unknown to the field. They’ve grown less frequent to LA since the Vancouver HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series stop (and its amateur tournament) occurs a week later. That’s also where the USA Women’s 7s team will next appear since LA is a men’s-only event.

With all of that said, the weather might be the main opposition, so teams that limit knock-ons, recycle with gusto and stay positive during a long, cold, wet day will do alright.

Check here for LAI 7s scores and updated schedules. TRB will be on the ground for photos and interviews, so be sure to follow @therugbybreakdown on Instagram for more coverage.

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