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CRC 7s Announces 1st Round of Qualified Teams

  • 07 Mar 2024
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Grand Valley State rugby

The Collegiate Rugby Championship (CRC) 7s is a month-and-a-half away, and National Collegiate Rugby (NCR) is announcing qualified teams as the spring elapses. The four women’s divisions — Premier, Division I Club, Division II and Small College — will compete Saturday-Sunday, April 27-28 at the Maryland ScoccerPlex in Boyds, Md., and overlap with the men’s tournament, which occurs Friday-Saturday. [Lead photo: Grand Valley State @ 2023 CRC 7s / Jackie Finlan]

RELATED: TRB Women’s Rugby Calendar 2024

The first round of qualified teams has already generated excitement. Four NCAA varsity programs have committed to the Premier bracket, including reigning champion Brown University. The Bears are joined by fellow NCAA DI program Mount St. Mary’s University, which is located 45 minutes north of Boyds; Division II’s West Chester University (Pa.); and Maine’s Bowdoin College, the many-years-reigning National Intercollegiate Rugby Association (NIRA) DIII champion. All four are in Premier.

 

Bowdoin rugby

Bowdoin College / Photo: Mark Washburn

The Polar Bears’ inclusion is particularly significant. NCAA by-laws stipulate that DIII programs must stop training and/or competing five days before the first academic final, and that has prevented rugby teams from basically featuring in any May event. But with the CRCs occurring in late April, DIII now has the cushion it needs to participate. That’s big, because its DI and DII counterparts are not bound by the same restriction and have been playing in the CRCs and CRAA (or AEG or USA Rugby) 7s tournaments for years. Now there is an option for DIII.

And remember: A college team can belong to more than one membership organization. So the aforementioned teams play their 15s in NIRA, and then as long as they also register as NCR members, are also eligible for NCR competitions outside of the 15s season. And that’s how you’ll see teams like Claremont Colleges (Calif.) and Univ. Oregon in Maryland this April. Both play DI 15s in CRAA and will feature in Division I of the CRC 7s. The Foxes have competed at CRCs before, last featuring at the 2022 event in New Orleans, and represent the DI Pacific Desert conference. CRC first-timer Oregon hails from the DI Pacific Mountain conference, which covers the Pacific Northwest and NorCal.

 

St Bonaventure rugby

St. Bonaventure’s Natalie Lamar is a breakout player / Photo: Jackie Finlan

Also in Division I, St. Bonaventure University has opted to play up. The Bonnies won the NCR Small College 15s National Championship, and so obviously they are small college-eligible for 7s. But during the NCR All-Star 7s Challenge in January, several players featured on Upstate New York’s DI/DII team (and also the small college team). In other words, St. Bonaventure is looking to test themselves. That also opens the opportunity for another Upstate NY team to take an automatic berth to the Small College division. The conference championships occur Sunday, April 7 at St. Bonaventure.

Of the four CRC competitions, Small College is arguably the most traditional in that conferences hold championships or qualifiers, and then at-large berths go to runners-up and other candidates. Small College held a stand-alone 7s national championship for years, so those post-season pathways have been set for some time. Conference championships will occur later this month and in April, and there might also be some representation from the Pacific Northwest after a years-long absence. Stay tuned.

And though this update ends with Grand Valley State University, the Lakers were actually the first team to win a CRCs qualifier back on Feb. 24. The Michigan team is making its third-straight trip to the NCR-run CRCs.

Stay tuned for more updates as the qualifier season picks up.

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