USA Sevens LLC has named the 15 collegiate 7s programs invited to the third annual USA 7s Collegiate Rugby Championship Invitational, scheduled for June 2012 at PPL Park in Chester, Pa., just outside Philadelphia.
In keeping with the tournament’s historical approach, the teams invited have been chosen for their quality of rugby, fan following, and the potential for exciting rivalries.
Seven teams make their third straight appearance at the CRC, including 2011 champions Dartmouth, and 2011 runners-up Army. Local favorites Penn State, Army’s rivals Navy, 2010 runners-up Cal, as well as Notre Dame and Arizona, all return for a third go-round.
Florida returns to the CRC after a one-year hiatus, while 2010 champions Utah are not on the list and will have to qualify if they want to be there again.
Three teams will make a repeat engagement after making their debuts in 2011: rivals Texas and Oklahoma, and locals Temple.
Meanwhile Maryland, North Carolina State, Wisconsin and Delaware will compete in the CRC for the first time.
This leaves one more spot open for a qualifier. This year’s qualification tournament, held at the Las Vegas Invitational in Las Vegas just before the USA 7s, featured almost 30 teams. The semifinals and final were held in Sam Boyd Stadium, and Central Washington won, going on to finish 4th in the CRC that June.
In 2012, the CRC Qualifier is again at the Las Vegas Invitational presented by Stations Casinos, with the Final held again in Sam Boyd Stadium. This time, however, the final will be held during a break in action of the USA 7s, meaning the players will be competing in front of 25,000 or more fans (last year the USA 7s averaged just below 25,000 per day).
“USA Sevens and NBC Sports are excited to offer, for the second year in succession, a place at the 2012 Collegiate Rugby Championship Invitational to the winner of the Men’s CRC Bracket at the 2012 Las Vegas Invitational,” said Donal Walsh, Senior Vice President of USA Sevens Rugby. “Due to the overwhelming success of the event in its first two years, the demand for places is extremely high. We are delighted that the Las Vegas Invitational organizing team has agreed once again to host the only qualifying tournament with the champion gaining entry to the final place in Philadelphia. We expect this competition to again attract all eligible rugby programs from across the nation, to battle it out to gain entry to this premier collegiate sevens event in the USA.”
The 2012 CRC will once again be broadcast live on NBC and affiliated networks.
The development of the first CRC event in 2010 in Columbus sparked a mini revolution in college rugby. Within a few short months many college rugby programs had refocused their priorities to include 7s. Leagues and conferences started hosting regional college 7s tournaments, and in February, 2011, 28 teams traveled to Las Vegas to play for that one single qualifier spot. This fall has been full of collegiate 7s tournaments, including a newly-created USA Rugby national tournament.
“When I initially presented the vision of competing in the CRC our alumni and coaches were hesitant,” said Texas University Coach Jacob Liberman. “Most felt that we could not raise the travel funds and/or compete with the best rugby clubs in the country on a national stage. Not only did we sell our entire allotment of tickets, but we finished in the top eight on the field, losing to Army in a competitive quarterfinal match that was tied at halftime.
“We accomplished all of this despite being one of the last four teams named to the event,” Liberman continued. “Given a longer runway I anticipate we could sell more tickets and do an even better job on the field. Since the CRC we have raised an additional $10,000 from alumni, landed a new apparel sponsor, and have been contacted by 90 students (including two DBs from the football team) who want to play rugby. Texas attended both the LVI and CRC last year and hope to do so again next year. Both experiences were amazing. Thanks to the CRC, American fans are recognizing rugby players as legitimate athletes. My personal feeling is that the CRC is the pinnacle of American rugby and we were proud to take part.”
Teams have already started signing up for the CRC Qualifier to be held February 9-11 at the LVI – the format will mirror somewhat the USA 7s, with two games being players on each day. Any college 7s team interested in qualifying for this event and playing 7s on national television should act soon.
For more information, go to www.LVIRugby.com; there teams can enter and get special deals on USA 7s tickets and rooms at Stations Casinos. You can also contact Tournament Director Jon Hinkin at
For more information on the Collegiate Rugby Invitational, go to www.usasevenscrc.com.
The 15 teams invited to the 2012 USA 7s Collegiate Rugby Championship
(One more team will qualify from the CRC Qualifier at the Las Vegas Invitational)