ATLANTIC BEACH, North Carolina – It wasn’t the traditional setting for a rugby tournament, but the beach played a big role this past Saturday as the Blackbeard 7s Beach US Open Rugby Championship took place on Atlantic Beach. Founded in 2011 by Brian Whalen, the Blackbeard 7s brings together teams from far and wide to play rugby in the sand. This year marked a transition for the event as the Clayton Rugby Football Club took over as hosts for Blackbeard.
“This event has always been near and dear to our club,” said Clayton RFC President Ted Hardy. “This event has so much potential. It’s hard to beat the ocean as a backdrop for a tournament and Blackbeard is a great way to close out the 7s season. We’re looking forward to building upon the success that Blackbeard has already achieved.”
This year, teams from throughout the Carolinas turned out to compete for the Men’s and Women’s Divisions titles. At the end of a fun, but hard, day of rugby only two sides were left standing. Camp Lejeune won the Women’s Division while the host’s took home their third Blackbeard title in the past four years. Lejeune steamrolled opponents throughout the day before facing off against the Majestic Unicorns touring side out of South Carolina. After a back and forth first half, Lejeune pulled away in the second half to win 29-22 and claim the Blackbeard title.
The Bootleggers had a similar path as they rolled into the championship where they faced off against Fort Bragg. The Bootleggers stormed out to an early lead, but Fort Bragg came storming back in the second half. The lead proved insurmountable as the Bootleggers were victorious by a score of 31-19. The Wombats, Clayton’s Old Boys team, finished in 3rd place while the Baby Wombats (young Bootleggers) placed 5th.
Blackbeard closes out a busy summer for the Bootleggers who hosted two tournaments and played in a total of five tournaments. The club now starts into pre-season training for the 2018/2019 XVs season.
Plans have already begun for the 2019 Blackbeard Beach 7s as the Clayton RFC plans to grow the event into one of the go-to social tournaments on the East Coast.
“We have such beautiful beaches and entertainment here along the North Carolina coast. We have no doubt that Blackbeard can become a destination tournament,” added Hardy. “Carrying on the Blackbeard legacy means a lot to us. We were honored that Brian approached us to host the tournament. We’re going to do our best to carry on the tradition and provide a great tournament to close out 7s season.”
Blackbeard 7s founder Brian Whalen agrees, “The future looks bright for Blackbeard 7s Beach US Open Rugby Championship Tournament. Thank You Clayton Bootleggers Rugby Football Club for a job well done!”
Stay tuned for more information on the 2019 Blackbeard 7s Beach US Open Rugby Championship. Tournament dates and registration will be announced around the New Year. The Clayton RFC plans to expand the tournament field and hopes to add an Old Boys Division next year.