The history of the Lakefront 7s begins in the summer of 1983 as a small men’s rugby tournament in Milwaukee on what is now Henry Maier Festival Park. From those humble beginnings, the Lakefront 7s has grown immensely. It is now the largest summer rugby event in the country. Held at Veterans Park, it now features 125+ teams across all demographics.
The Lakefront 7s caters to all age groups and hosts both local and traveling teams. This includes numerous touring sides, qualification events for USA Rugby, and the Championship Cup Series (USA Sevens LLC).
The Lakefront 7s is organized by the Milwaukee Barbarians Athletic Club and their friends, family and alumni. For decades, the event was organized by tournament founder Papa Joe Kloiber. He and his family members continue to play an important role in the event.
In 2013, Papa Joe received a Lifetime Achievement Award for his tireless efforts to promote rugby in Milwaukee and throughout Wisconsin.
A volunteer effort
The Lakefront 7s is a volunteer effort led by primarily club members.
Over the years, the event has been led by a number of club members including Joe Kloiber, Joe Cunningham, Joseph Osvatic, Victor Drover, Erik Schleicher and Cathy Nirschl.
Nowadays, the Lakefront 7s is organized through the collective efforts of our organizing committee.
SCRUM and the modern era
The ‘modern’ era of the Lakefront 7s began in 2009 when the ease of computing facilitated the keeping of more accurate records like our list of event champions.
Operations were modernized and formalized, flag rugby for middle and elementary school students was added, and formal partnerships with local businesses were developed.
The event grew rapidly in the modern era to become the largest summer rugby event in the United States.
In 2013, the Society for Cultivating Rugby Union Mastery (SCRUM) was incorporated to officially oversee the event. SCRUM is a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt public charity whose mission is to foster national and international amateur rugby football competition.
In 2023, we celebrated our 40th anniversary.
History of the Lakefront 7s in pictures
Below you’ll find logos and other art we’ve created for the tournament over the years.
Below you will find our program archive, a selection of programs from the event history. Click the cover previews below to download a full copy of the program as a PDF.