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Qualifier Lends Context to Rugby NorCal Field

  • 09 Nov 2021

St. Mary’s beat top-seeded Bishop O’Dowd / Photo: Jackie Finlan (TRB)

Rugby NorCal hosted a four-stop 7s series for it single-school teams, and Saturday’s Qualifier in Danville, Calif., provided more context for programs’ relative strength. Now executive director Jason Divine has better intel in terms of seeding this Saturday’s championship tournament, which will field an eight-team Cup bracket and four-team Bowl competition.

“It is sort of complicated,” Divine explained the purpose of the Nov. 6 qualifier. “Not everyone plays the same teams for various reasons, so we look at points, opponents played, and results from like opponents. We noticed the bottom four never beat any of the other eight teams (at full strength) so we plan to separate them in the finals. At the Qualifier we have created specific match-ups to confirm the order of seedings.”

Berkeley (with ball) vs. Cougars / Photo: Jackie Finlan (TRB)

The following reflects seeds and records prior to Nov. 7:

1. Bishop O’Dowd – 11-1, 22 pts

2. Carondelet – 10-2, 20 pts

3. Milpitas – 8-4, 16 pts

4. San Ramon Valley/Northgate – 7-5, 14 pts

5. Laguna Creek – 6-2, 12 pts

6. St. Mary’s – 4-4, 8 pts

7. St. Mary’s #2 – 4-3, 8 pts

8. Cougars (Carondelet #2) – 4-8, 8 pts

9. Saints – 3-2, 6 pts

10. River City – 3-2, 6 pts

11. Overfelt – 2-10, 4 pts

12. Berkeley – 1-4, 2 pts

13. Royals (Overfelt #2) – 0-9, 0 pts

14. Gridley – 0-3, 0 pts

Overfelt (blue) enjoyed great numbers in its first season / Photo: Jackie Finlan (TRB)

“There is always a chance of big surprises at the Qualifier which could lead us to change the format for the finals, but with the previous results that is unlikely,” Divine added. “Last season we had a good team enter the series late, so they were seeded in the Bowl because they had less matches and less points, but they easily won, and we are trying to avoid that this time.”

With that context, Saturday’s pairings make more sense:

So what were some major takeaways from the Qualifier? Firstly, Carondelet and St. Mary’s went 3-0 on the day, and so did St. Mary’s second side, which played the bottom-tier teams. Carondelet looked fit and sharp, and when it faced a larger, more powerful Laguna Creek, the team did not fade in physicality. Julia Jarrett was inspirational all day, chasing down break-aways and going full tilt into contact. Across the whole field, Jarrett and St. Mary’s Serina Yee stood out on defense – and both are fast enough to score tries – working hard all day and putting lots of momentum into their tackles.

Carondelet’s Jarrett in the tackle / Photo: Jackie Finlan (TRB)

Carondelet co-captain Lucy Lamborn stood out as a team leader, as did Cam Fields with St. Mary’s. Tall and fast, Fields is the centerpiece around which St. Mary’s revolves, and the coach’s daughter has plenty of weapons to deploy in sister Kori Fields, Ryen Scott, Yee and more. St. Mary’s started the day with a 27-12 win against Bishop O’Dowd – which had important players like Laila Hannum, Vanessa Ortiz-Pallen and Ysa Lucero on the pitch – before downing Milpitas 14-10 and Saints 36-7.

St. Mary’s Cam Fields / Photo: Jackie Finlan (TRB)

Bishop O’Dowd did rebound with back-to-back shutouts against Milpitas and Saints. Laguna Creek, too, found its footing in its final two games: 31-0 vs. River City and 38-5 vs. San Ramon Valley/Northgate. Laguna Creek has several sophomores and have been playing together since middle school, and during the club season represent SacPAL Amazons. Lina Koi is in the middle of it all – strong, powerful, nimble and the best dropkick on the day. She plays with a quiet, confident style, and when Laguna Creek was lagging in its opener against Carondelet, Koi was still firing.

Laguna Creek’s Lina Koi / Photo: Jackie Finlan (TRB)

Even the teams that struggled on the day weren’t without. Some team preferred a more 15s, tight-offload game, and they featured strong ballcarriers with good hands. The Saints only had six players on the day, but Maya Hilger knit everyone together; power prop Jianna Leatherby took punch after punch; and freshman Emily Hartman displayed a knack for and comfort with contact. And that was every team’s story: Wins or losses, players were working hard and worthy of notice.

Jianna Leatherby anticipates Yee’s hit / Photo: Jackie Finlan (TRB)

Rugby NorCal Qualifier

Nov. 6 @ Danville, Calif.

Carondelet 20-5 SRV/NG

Carondelet 24-12 River City

Carondelet 29-0 Laguna Creek

St. Mary’s 27-12 Bishop O’Dowd

St. Mary’s 14-10 Milpitas

St. Mary’s 36-7 Saints

Bishop O’Dowd 27-0 Milpitas

Bishop O’Dowd 35-0 Saints

Laguna Creek 31-0 River City

Laguna Creek 38-5 SRV/NG

St. Mary’s 2 22-0 Berkeley

St. Mary’s 2 25-0 Cougars

St. Mary’s 2 5-0 Overfelt

Overfelt 10-5 Berkeley

Overfelt 47-0 Cougars

Berkeley 17-12 Cougars

River City 10-10 SRV/NG

Saints 24-15 Milpitas

Rugby NorCal is now processing the latest results and configuring this Saturday’s championship tournament, which will take a more traditional format with quarterfinals, semifinals, consolations and final placing matches. The championship is currently scheduled for this Saturday at Cherry Island Soccer Complex in Rio Linda, Calif. More details to come.

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