The USA Rugby Emirates Airline Club 7s National Championships return to the Midwest in 2017 as the National Sports Center in Blaine, Minn., will host the event Aug. 12-13.
Located in the northern part of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area, Blaine's National Sports Center features an 8,000-plus seat stadium, as well as more than 650 acres of sport and event facilities. For 2017, the National Sports Center will welcome a total of 32 teams competing in one of the newest Olympic sports. Rugby Sevens made its Olympic debut at the Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games, and 11 of the 24 members of Team USA previously honed their crafts at Club 7s.
“USA Rugby is beyond thrilled to host Club 7s in a professional venue such as the National Sports Center,” USA Rugby National Championships Manager James Wilber said. “We believe the venue and our local hosts are going to deliver a memorable Club 7s National Championship.”
“The event will play a role in our plans to grow rugby even further here,” noted Minnesota Youth Rugby Executive Director Sean Lindersmith. “Minnesota is a great state with a proud sporting history. We are honored to continue that by hosting the Club 7s National Championships.”
In addition to hosting events for a score of sports including golf, lacrosse, and soccer, the National Sports Center has previously been home to rugby for the Minnesota State High School Championships. International rugby events like the 2010 Bingham Cup and under-20 matches between the national teams of Canada and the United States have also been hosted in Blaine, with this year's Club 7s set to be the first Rugby Sevens tournament at the complex. The facility also formerly hosted Minnesota United FC, who recently joined Major League Soccer for its 2017 season.
"The men and women who play, coach, referee, and volunteer their time to showcase and grow rugby in the United States deserve a platform of this caliber," noted USA Rugby Club Department Manager Erik Geib. "This year's event is set to deliver a first-class experience for our athletes, and we strongly believe that the fans in attendance in Minnesota - or watching on The Rugby Channel - will have a chance to fall in love with the best upcoming sevens players in America."
Qualified teams from regional series events will have the amenities of permanent training fields and an indoor athlete village throughout the late-summer weekend. Located in the middle of the country geographically, travelling teams will also benefit from the low fares afforded by the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, which cheapflights.com ranked fifth in its 2016 Airport Affordability Index.
The 33rd annual Club 7s National Championships will be just the fifth held in the Midwest since the event began in 1985. Milwaukee hosted the event from 1986 to 1988, and Des Moines was the host in 2015.
Tickets for this year's Club 7s are priced at $23 for a weekend pass, or $15 per day, and will be available soon. For those unable to attend in person, the event will also be broadcast live on The Rugby Channel.