And so we are here at the final 7s club rankings of 2012. Or do we?
Well here's the dilemma. In our opinion, Old Puget Sound Beach, Belmont Shore, and the Chicago Lions are all virtually tied. OPSB won five of their six games at nationals by huge margins. In fact, four of the top five winning margins at the National Championships were by Beach. The top one, was by Belmont Shore. Full Article at Rugby Mag »
Kansas City Blues - USA National 7s Championships, August 4th-5th, San Francisco, CA
Back Row: Jordan Neville, Kenny Scott, Kevin Schwartze, Connor McDonnough, Billy Racule
Middle Row: David McDonnough, Drew Haig, Conner Smith, Zack Zillner
Front Row: Tim Curtis, Kelly Mercer, Joe D'agostino
In 2000, life looked good for the Kansas City Blues rugby team. They had just finished second at nationals behind a veteran team, the club’s seventh trip to nationals since 1991.
But a short time later, veterans started retiring, which usually opens the door for the next generation. The Blues, though, didn’t have that crop of young talent and gaps started forming in the lines.
The Blues would go more than a decade without returning to 7s nationals, unable to adequately fill the spots of proven veterans with up-and-coming young guns.
“I was actually part of that crew that when it disappeared, we could see it coming three years out,” said Scott Kram, now the Blues’ coach. “But we couldn’t do anything about it. We just didn’t have anybody coming in.”
The Blues 7s team is playing at nationals this weekend in San Francisco, having finally snapped the club’s drought. But that is simply the end game of a process that started in 2006, when members of the team realized they needed an infusion.
So Kram, vice president Pete Kowalski and others undertook the rebuilding process by starting small.
They turned to Conner Smith, now the team captain, who went to Rockhurst High and recruited a few teammates while at Kansas State.
They turned to Zack Zillner, who played at St. Thomas Aquinas before going to KU.
They turned to Kelly Mercer, whose dad starred for the Blues and who returned to the team after graduating from St. Louis University.
“Through that initial outreach,” Kowalski said, “the network really grew.”
There are a number of guys on the current roster who started in those formative years from 2006 to 2008. It’s during that time when the young Blues developed the close-knit group that, Kram and his players say, defines the team today.
“We weren’t very good or anything,” said Kevin Schwartze, who went to Rockhurst High and Rockhurst University. “We just started playing again. We’ve kind of been evolving and growing since then. It’s really been a homegrown team, which is really different than a lot of teams around the nation. They have foreign players or they bring guys in.”
Kowalski said: “We make sure that we’re continuing to build depth, and that’s really paying off and really been the difference is having a young group of players come in, learn the system and grow together.”
When Mercer returned to the Blues recently, he did so, in large part, because he found employment in Kansas City. But he also grew up with the Blues’ tradition, which helped.
Still, he wasn’t sure of where the Blues were going at that point. Then he showed up and saw how many recent college players were returning.
“My excitement jumped when I saw how many people were coming back,” he said.
At the heart of the Blues’ success is a concentrated effort to reach out to local high school and college programs to build what Kowalski and Kram call “pipelines.” But there’s also something else: serendipity.
“For the most part we all went off to college and did our own thing,” Mercer said. “It was more timing than anything else. We all came back at the right time.”
When Kram contemplates his team’s chances at nationals this year, he also mentions this: Yes, his team could be nervous this time around, “but it will be easier in years to come.”
For now, at least, the Blues are set for the future, in large part because of the pipelines they built after the club dropped out of sight.
“The youth movement was hard for me to see coming,” Kram said. “It just came. But now that it’s here, we’re taking steps to make sure that we never get that hole behind us again.” Courtesy of The olathe News »
Kansas City Blues Kevin Schwartze
Photo Courtesy of Pat Clifton
The Kansas City Blues are no strangers to 7s success. They’ve reached the National Championships multiple times and the final four twice. But, until qualifying as the West’s second seed Saturday, they hadn’t reached Nationals in over a decade.
“It’s been since 2000, since my old ass was (playing),” said Blues coach Scott Kramm.
“I’m not going to say it’s a long time coming, because it’s a young team that’s just starting up again, but they’ve brought the Blues’ legacy back to what it used to be. It’s going to mean a lot to our old boys.”
It's now evident the latter was true, as the Blues were riding an 11-game win streak on the West circuit (not including a tournament championship in Tulsa between qualifiers) until falling to the Denver Barbarians in the final of Denver 7s Saturday inside the stadium at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Full Article at Rugby Mag »
07.21.12 - Blues 7s Qualify for National Championships With Runner-Up Finish in Denver
The Kansas City Blues 7s side qualified for their first trip to the Emirates Airline USA Rugby Club 7s Championships since 2000, finishing in 2nd place at the Denver 7s at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on July 21st. Coming into the tournament the Blues needed to place in the top 2 at the West Sevens Series’ final event to ensure their Nationals berth, and did so with a 33-15 semifinal victory over 2011 West Series champions Woodlands Exiles (Houston, TX), before falling in the championship match to Series Champions Denver Barbarians 34-14 inside the stadium in front of nearly 1,000 fans. The Blues Reserve Side played in the Men’s Open Division in Denver, going 4-1 on the day en route to a 5th place finish. The Junior Blues also played in Denver, taking 3rd place in the High School Division with a 3rd/4th match win over Denver East.
Kansas City Blues - Denver Sneath 7s National Qualifier Runner-up
Back Row: Connor McDonnough, Joe D'agostino, Kevin Schwartze, Billy Racule, Jordan Neville, Pete Winklebauer, Scott Kram. Front Row:
David McDonnough, Tim Curtis, Zack Zillner, Kelly Mercer, Conner Smith, Kenny Scott, Drew Haig
07.15.12 - Blues Repeat Champions At Tulsa Parrot Head 7s
The Kansas City Blues took another step forward as a competitive 7s program, winning the Tulsa Parrot Head 7s on July 14th for the second year in a row with a 43-12 championship game victory over the Oklahoma City Crusaders. The tournament championship was the Club's second consecutive event crown in as many weeks after winning the Heartland 7s Qualifier on July 7th, and also marked the third tournament this season in which the Club fielded more than one competitive side. The Blues Reserves also played in Tulsa, falling in the quarterfinals.
Kansas City Blues vs Oklahoma City - Tulsa Parrot Head 7's Finals
Kansas City Blues David Mcdonnough
Photo Courtesy of Pat Clifton
The host Kansas City Blues went 5-0 Saturday to win the second West qualifier at Swope Park in Kansas City, Mo. They beat Glendale 22-17 in a thrilling overtime final.
In pool play, the Blues avenged a loss to the Oklahoma Rugby Academy in a prior tournament final with a 28-7 win over ORA, who added Eagle, All American and Army flyhalf Will Holder to the roster for Kansas City. They also scored four tries to El Azul’s one in their other pool match.
Glendale blanked the Kansas City Rogues 29-0 to start their day and then battled past a very physical and athletic Fort Worth team for a 7-0 win and a 2-0 start.
The Blues ran up against that same Fort Worth team, which favored a straight forward attack, in the Cup Quarterfinals and worked sideline to sideline for a 26-7 win. In their semifinal, the Blues jumped on the series-leading Denver Barbarians, coming off of a barn-burning 24-19 overtime win over Aspen in the quarterfinals, from the first kickoff. Full Article at Rugby Mag »
07.07.12 - Blues Win, Take First Qualifier Crown At Heartland 7s
The Kansas City Blues went 5-0 en route to winning the Championship at the Heartland 7s Tournament on July 7th at the Sporting Kansas CIty Training Facility at Swope Park. 12-team The Heartland 7s is the 2nd stop on the Western Qualifier Series, a 3 event series where teams build aggregate points based on finish at each event with the top 2 teams at the end of the series qualifying for the USA Rugby Sevens National Championships. The tournament win marks the first Western Qualifier Series Event Championship for the Blues in over 10 years.
The Tournament win puts the Blues into a tie for 2nd place in the Series with an advantage based on head-to-head, and seemingly all to play for with one Event remaining in Denver on July 21st.
Kansas City Blues - Heartland 7s National Qualifier Champions
Back Row: Scott Kram, Zack Zillner, Kevin Schwartze, Connor McDonnough, Billy Racule, Drew Haig, Pete Winklebauer, Vince Pastorino, Jaynee Kleumpers. Front Row: Tim Curtis, Conner Smith, Pete Kowalski, Kelly Mercer, Joe D'Agostino, David McDonnough, Kenny Scott
Club Wraps Up Another Successful Heartland 7s
The Kansas City Blues wrapped up another successful Heartland 7s Tournament in the early hours of July 8th, capping off a weekend-long event at 1am Sunday that began at 5pm on Friday. In the Club's 6th year hosting the event, the new multi-day and multi-division format at the Sporting Kansas City Training Facility at Swope Park saw a record number of teams met with record-level Kansas City heat, as temperatures topped out at 106 degrees on Saturday afternoon in a cruel welcome to the 8 Boy's High School, 16 Men's Open Cup, and 12 Men's Premier Qualifier teams that took part.
Friday night's 'Friday Night Lights' boy's high school division saw some exciting rugby and gave a glimpse into the bright future of the sport as 7 local Clubs welcomed a team from Littleton, CO to KC for the event. The KC Junior Blues won the tournament final played at 10pm on Friday.
On Saturday morning, the Men's Open Cup kicked off on 2 fields at 8am. Great competition throughout the day saw the Denver Barbarians Reserves, Northwest Arkansas, Omaha GOATS, and KC Blues Reserves go through to the Cup semifinals. Denver and the GOATS won out and played a very entertaining Cup Championship at 2:45pm, with the GOATS taking the crown. Notable on the day were the 3 full sides the Blues entered into the Open Cup, including the Blues Colts - a collection of graduated high school seniors and collegiate aged players in the Blues 7s program - who lost a close match to Denver early in the day but bounced back to win the Plate Championship.
In the Premier Qualifier Division, 12 of the best teams from the West Region battled through pool play beginning at 2:00pm in the afternoon heat on the scorching field-turf before things cooled off for the evening quarterfinals. The Woodlands Exiles, KC Blues, Denver Barbarians, and Glendale RFC all won their pools and made it through to the semifinals. The Blues defeated the Barbarians and Glendale topped the Exiles in the semi's, with the Blues defeating Glendale 22-17 in overtime to win the Championship at midnight.
Special thanks to event co-sponsors Sporting Kansas City, Mike's on Troost & The Gaf, Platte Rental Supply, and United Beverage and Anheuser Busch for helping make the tournament a success. The Tournament could not have happened without the HOA and West Referee Societies, and without the tireless efforts throughout the nearly continuous 36 hours of Event Coordinater Joe Fridkin, John Franklin, Mike Schlatter, Derek Mannell, and especially Steve Jackman.
Kansas City Blues vs Glendale Raptors- Heartland 7's Finals
06.23.12 - Blues Disappointed With Houston 7s Qualifier Finish
Kansas City Blues Pete Kowalski
Photo Courtesy of Travis Prior
The KC Blues finished in 5th place at the Houston 7s Qualifier June 23rd , defeating HARC, Aspen, and Ft. Worth while losing only to Denver and the Woodlands Exiles - both of whome reached the final.
The KC Blues finally got a big monkey off their backs at the Houston 7s Qualifier June 23rd when they defeated the Gentlemen of Aspen for the first time on the 7s field in over 10 years by a score of 28-12 – however it was too little too late as the victory came in the Plate Semi-finals, after the Blues had been bounced from the points in a nail-biter 12-7 quarterfinal loss to 2011 West Champions Woodlands Exiles.
The Blues followed-up their Aspen win with a 24-0 win over Ft. Worth to secure 5th place in the 12 team Qualifier.
The Blues went 1-1 in pool play, defeating HARC 28-0 and losing to the Denver Barbarians 29-0. With a 3-2 record on the day, the Blues only losses came to the finalists as Denver went on to defeat the Exiles in the championship, 24-0. Glendale routed Oklahoma Rugby Academy 40-0 in the 3rd/4th match.
The Blues travel to the Lakefront 7s in Milwaukee, WI on June 30th to face the Midwest Region's top teams.
Blues Roster at Houston 7s: Tim Curtis, Conner Smith, Kevin Schwartze, Kelly Mercer, Jordan Neville, David McDonough, Kenny Scott, Joe D'Agostino, Pete Kowalski, Drew Haig, Billy Racule, Zack Zillner
With the Barbo’s clear favorites coming out of the first of three National Qualifiers for the West, there is still a lot to play for at the Heartland 7s hosted by the Kansas City Blues on July 7th at the Sporting Kansas City Training Facility at Swope Park. Expectations remain high for the hometown Blues to show well.
Kansas City Blues Drew Haig
Photo Courtesy of Pat Clifton
The Oklahoma Rugby Academy won Fountain City 7s Saturday in impressive fashion. They didn’t concede a single point until the semifinal and never trailed in five matches. Heading into the final, their point differential was 169-7.
The Kansas City Blues were equally impressive throughout pool play and the quarterfinals and semifinals. They conceded only one try prior to the final – to Julie McCoy coached Little Rock in the semis.
The Blues were anchored by a solid performance from wing Kenny Scott. They worked the ball from touch line to touch line with a strong pattern, and when an overload was created, Scott did well to take advantage and score. The West 7s All Star also displayed improved defense. Full Article at Rugby Mag »
The Kansas City Blues opened up the 2012 Summer 7s Rugby Season by sending both sides through to the semi-finals – with the Qualifier side making the Championship match - at the Fountain City 7s on June 16th in Kansas City, MO. The tournament was played as an afternoon/evening event at Rockhurst University.
Both sides swept pool play, with the Qualifier side defeating Northland RFC and Bartlesville (OK) in lopsided wins. The Blues Second side defeated a strong Little Rock side in the opening round, and upended Tulsa RFC in their second pool match to also earn a Quarterfinal bid. In the QFs, the Qualifier side shut-out the KC Islanders, while the Second side defeated Northland RFC as both advanced to the semifinals.
The Blues Qualifier side drew Little Rock in the first semi, and encountered a stiffer challenge than in prior rounds as they gave up their first points of the day, despite prevailing 24-7 to secure their place in the Championship match. In the other semi, the Blues Second side came up against a very tough opponent in the Oklahoma Rugby Academy, a select side of college and men’s age players from across the state of Oklahoma. Although tight through the first few minutes, Oklahoma opened things up going into half time and were able to put the game away – ruining hopes for an all-Blues final.
The championship game kicked off at 9:15pm and proved to be a very evenly contested match between two very young, athletic, and talented teams. Oklahoma got the better of the Blues early by capitalizing on mistakes and making some enterprising offense of their own in the opening minutes, and went into halftime with a 17-7 lead over the home side. After the half, the Blues were able to bounce back with solid defense and ball retention, scoring 2 unanswered and converted tries – the second coming with just 2 minutes to play – to put the Blues ahead 21-17. A turnover deep in Oklahoma’s end with under 1 minute to play looked to be a death-blow for the visitors as the Blues pounced on the loose ball for what looked to be a game-sealing try. An infraction forced a call-back on the score however, and with time winding down Oklahoma was able to mount a final thrilling comeback and score a game-winning try in the corner to take the Championship from the Blues.
Special thanks to the Blues supporters who turned out to cheer on both sides through the day, including old boys Frank Mirikitani, Terry Martin, Bubba King, Danny McFarland, Paul Tripp, Craig Smith, Billy Lonergan, John Franklin, and Jay Flaherty, among others.
Qualifier Side Roster: Kevin Schwartze, Tim Curtis, Conner Smith (c), Pete Kowalski, Jordan Neville, David McDonough, Kenny Scott, Erik Hartley, Drew Haig, Scott McAvoy
Second Side Roster (incomplete): Matt Potchad, Kiel Mans, Jay Allen, Bubba George, Markus Dierkes, Rick Korvick, Steve Sharkey, Joe Shirley, Colin McFarland, Tywanne Aldridge
Kansas City Blues vs Kansas City Islanders- Fountain City 7's
06.01.12 - KC Blues 7s Season Opens WIth High Expectations
Blues opened their 2012 7s Season on Tuesday, May 22nd with training at the Sporting Kansas City Training Facility at Swope Park. Over 40 athletes attended the first session, almost half of which are graduating seniors from area High School programs or Collegiate players in Kansas City for the summer or who have recently graduated and joined the Blues.
Based on the depth of talent in the program, the Blues plan on entering 2 competitive sides in each home tournament and aim to travel with 2 teams to at least 2 of the 3 scheduled away tournaments.
If you are interested in playing 7s rugby with the Blues this summer, contact coach Scott Kram.
Summer 7s Schedule
June 16th: Fountain City 7s @ Kansas City, MO
June 23rd: Texas Qualifier @ Houston, TX
June 30th: Lakefront 7s @ Milwaukee, WI
July 7th: Heartland 7s Qualifier @ Kansas City, MO
July 14th: Parrothead 7s @ Tulsa, OK
July 21st: Sneath Cup 7s Qualifier @ Denver, CO
August 4th: National 7s Tournament @ San Francisco, CA