The Vatos are going back to Pennsylvania.
New Mexico Highlands University’s rugby club has made a habit of playing in the national sevens championship tournament, and that’s exactly what the Vatos will be doing in June.
The Vatos defeated Wabash University 29-7 to claim the top spot in the Oak Leaf 7s Qualifier hosted by Vanderbilt this past weekend in Nashville, Tenn. Tennessee-Chattanooga bested Duke 36-0 for third place in the same event.
By virtue of the win, the Vatos advance to the National Small College Rugby Organization’s championship bracket, which will play out June 1-3 at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pa., near Philadelphia.
One more regional qualifying event, the Northeast 7s, will determine the eighth and final team in the national bracket. The Northeast 7s is set for this weekend in Babson Park, Mass.
NMHU captured back-to-back NSCRO national sevens rugby championships in 2015 and 2016. Several Vatos team members from that lineup have since gone on to play for major clubs like the Denver Barbarians. KeVon Williams, the team captain of those national champion lineups, has played his way onto the U.S. men’s roster and is competing internationally.
Christendom College won the 2017 national title, with the Vatos placing fifth.