PHILADELPHIA, PA – This year’s Collegiate Rugby Championship saw a number of new teams that led to a more competitive and exciting two days than ever before. The split between the USA Rugby College Sevens National Championship and the CRCs had left some of the best teams unable to play each other. However, the addition of Lindenwood, Saint Mary’s, American International College, and Clemson to the CRCs can legitimize the claim that it is the real college 7s national championship.
In pool A, St. Mary’s advanced to the quarterfinals after taking down Dartmouth and Boston College who put up a strong opposition. In the deciding game, Dartmouth led St. Mary’s at the half 7-0, but a few Big Green errors and strong running by the Gaels changed the momentum and St. Mary’s walk off with a comfortable 26-7 victory.
Pool B was the tightest of them all. A tie between Arkansas State and Life led to the pool being decided by point differential. Arkansas State took #1 position over Life, but both teams advanced the quarterfinals.
Coming off their victory at the USA Rugby College Sevens Championship, Lindenwood easily took pool C with a +60 point differential while Army, Saint Joseph’s and Navy all had negative point differentials. In the classic rivalry, Army just got by Navy 17-14 to claim bragging rights for this year.
UCLA emerged victorious from the rubble of Pool D (aka the Pool of Death). UCLA, AIC, Arizona, and Virginia Tech are all very competitive teams. Two
matches resulting in ties highlight and no team walking away with three wins shows how close things were. UCLA managed to beat Arizona and Virginia Tech while tieing AIC to advance to the Cup playoffs.
Pool E was going to be decided by the winner of Cal and Penn State. Despite initial resistance, Cal got past Penn State 28-19. Clemson managed to defeat Delaware to finish third in the pool.
Indiana came into this CRC with something to prove, and that they did by defeating powerhouse Kutztown 29-19 to claim the #1 position. However, Kutztown’s +75 point differential put them as the final #2 team to sneak into the Cup playoffs over Dartmouth.
The Bowl Final was a matchup between instate foes Clemson and South Carolina. It was a back and forth match with four lead changes, but the Gamecocks were able to score just before the final whistle to take at 24-19 victory over the Tigers.
The lead-up to the Plate Final saw a number of upsets. Dartmouth was able to score with no time remaining to defeat their New England Rivals AIC for the upset and Wisconsin took out both Army and St. Joseph’s in unexpected victories. The match was just as exciting as the playoffs. Wisconsin got off to an early 12-0 lead at the half thanks to two linebreaks that punctured the Dartmouth defense. However, the second half was controlled by Dartmouth. Two runs around the edge gave Dartmouth its tries, but a failed conversion with no time left allowed Wisconsin to escape defeat.
In the first round of the quarter-finals, #1 seed Cal got by Kutztown 19-10, Indiana took down UCLA 24-12, Life edged Saint Mary’s 7-5, and Lindenwood ended Arkansas State’s day 12-0.
Cal continued its strong play by defeating Indiana 29-14 to finish the tournament for Indiana who turned a number of heads this weekend. The boys from the Mid-West looked very strong and structured and don’t be surprised to see them make another run next year. Life and Lindenwood are certainly no strangers. They have faced off in the Mid-South Conference a number of times this year and it seemed fitting to have the two battle it out in the semis. The first half was close and ended 14-12 in favor of Life, but, in the second half, the Running Eagles flew past the Lions to reach the finals 24-14.
The championship match-up between Cal and Life was a rematch of the 2013 final. Connor Sweet was able to run through the Life defense from five meters out to score the only try of the first half and help put the Golden Bears up 7-0 at the half. Then, shortly into the beginning of the second half, freshman wing Sam Casano Cusano used his speed to get around the Life defense and put the ball down in the try zone. The freshman phenom didn’t stop there and Cusano got his second of the match to put Cal up 19-0 to win the championship.
While five CRC championships in a row might blur together, this one was special because Cal was playing for Robert Paylor who suffered an injury in the Varsity Cup final which resulted in him becoming paralyzed in much of his body from the shoulders down. The Cal jerseys had #TryForPaylor on the front to raise awareness for his injury. A fund has been created to help raise money for his rehab and you can donate by clicking on this link.
The Penn Mutual CRC Dream Team was also announced and Sam Cusano was named tournament MVP.
Cian Barry – UCLA
Dylan Boast – Arkansas State
Harley Davidson – Life
Alex Dorrier – Indiana
Codyy Melphy – Life
Dmontae Noble – Kutztown
Cristian Rodriguez – Lindenwood
Anthony Salaber – Cal
Lorenzo Thomas – Lindenwood
Duncan van Schalkwyk – Life
Russell Webb – Cal
Dawit Workie – Dartmouth
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