CHESTER, PA – One thing is clear based on my Friday evening post: my prognostication skills are poor.
There is no doubt that the Collegiate Rugby Championship Invitational (CRC) is an event catering to non-rugby interests. Watching the Ohio State-Michigan game on Saturday, though, that was okay with me. The Michigan fans turned up and did their thing. Prior to the teams running out, they were ready and cheering.
For the Kutztown-Michigan game on Sunday, the crowd was fantastic. Both teams ran off to big applause from their supporters. For Kutztown-Dartmouth game, the KU fans outnumbered the Dartmouth fans about 3-to-1, if I had to guess. The idea of having local area teams in the tournament, seemed to make sense.
As with the Pacific Rugby Premiership (PRP), the quality of the play is only one facet. A rowdy crowd is an important part of the packaging of rugby–for sevens and fifteens. This weekend was a pretty darn good package. As for the product. Most of the play was devoid of “D’Oh!” moments. The teams seemed relatively well prepared, even if the programs aren’t even in terms of athletes and budgets.
Championship Quarterfinals Recap
Cal v Penn State: 34-5
There was never that much doubt that Cal would have enough to beat Penn State. PSU played well for the first four minutes and showed spark and enthusiasm. There was plenty of hustle and commitment from the Lions. Sadly, when that is written about a team, it usually means that they are over-matched, and Penn State was. Stache, footwork, defense.
Kutztown v Michigan: 14-0
The result also seems relatively assured in the Michigan v Kutztown game, with Kutztown having the better squad. Vetekina Malafu had the burst of speed to break through the Michigan defense while most of his teammates were taking the battering ram approach. Michigan looked to have a chance when they intercepted a pass and crossed over the try line. The referee called it back for offsides and then Niku Kruger scored moments later to fully deflate the UM balloon.
UCLA v Dartmouth: 21-12
UCLA was able to take care of Dartmouth by taking care of the breakdown. Dartmouth was short on attack and defense because of how hard they had to work to simply secure possession and finish tackles. Two moments of skill stood out from the game: One was an over-the-head no look pass by Jackson Welch to a fellow Bruin who was then able to score. It was the kind of pass that looks genius if it works and fires up the crowd, which it did. The other moment was by Dartmouth’s John Abraham. He was streaking down the touch line, under pressure, and able to hit Kevin Clark in stride so he had the momentum to score.
Life v Navy: 33-26
AJ Johnson was the go-to guy in the Navy lineup. He was not able to haul down Life’s Harley Davidson (replacing Penn St.’s Blaze Fuery as our new favorite player name). Davidson received the ball about 40 meters out and had a lot of work to do to fend off Johnson. He followed up that score with a simpler try as all he needed was one good step to wrong-foot the Navy defender. Like Kutztown against Michigan, Life made this game more complicated than they needed to. The game was tied at the hooter. In the last play, Life was able to cross in the corner to earn the deserved victory.
Cal v UCLA: 20-17
I saw someone with a t-shirt here at PPL Park yesterday that read: “You’re killing me, Smalls!” Kicking the restart into touch while leading Cal in the final minutes? I think both UCLA and Kutztown supporters need to mass order those t-shirts now.
Kutztown v Life: 19-17
Life had the chances to put this game away. Mike Lawrenson (6’7 lock playing 7s) put one arm around the ball and the other arm down the throat of a few Life defenders, and Kutztown barrelled forward.
Cal v Kutztown: 24-21
The match opened with Cal kicking to Lawrenson (You’re killing me, Smalls!). But, the tenor was further set when Cal turned the ball over at the first breakdown. Things weren’t easy for Cal, as Jake Anderson’s knock on under pressure early in the first half indicated. Kutztown’s Malafu showed another burst of speed, passed from the deck to Lawrenson who kept the momentum moving forward and off loaded to Bruce Dolan who scored the first points of the championship game. Cal replied as Seamus Kelly stepped up when nothing was on and it led to an Alec Gletzer try. Then, from a scrum, Cal simply spread the ball wide and Andrew Battaglia had enough gas to get past Malafu on the outside. 12-7 at the half in Cal’s favor.
In the second half, Brad Harrington was put into space enough to hit full speed and score for Cal. KU was able to answer through another Lawrenson run and try. Cal was able to get one more in in the corner to keep the pressure on KU. The game ended with a Malafu try that was 80+ meters. That wasn’t enough, though, and Cal makes room for another trophy in the case.
2014 CRC Hardware Winners
Champion and winner of the Pete Dawkins Trophy*: Cal
Shield Winner: Temple
Bowl Winner: St. Joe’s
Plate Winner: Maryland
Pete Dawkins was a Heisman Trophy winner, which means he gets the thumbs up from the non-ruggers, and he was a Rhodes Scholar and the innovator of the overhead lineout throw while at Oxford University.
That’s it for now. Feel free to comment below, please look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter@:RugbyWrapUp, Junoir Blaber, Nick Hall, James Harrington, Jamie Wall, Jaime Loyd, DJ Eberle, Cody Kuxmann, Karen Ritter, Jake Frechette and Declan Yeats, respectively.