The CRC poll is still open, but at the time this article was written, right around 329,000 votes had been cast by fans, coaches and players for the teams they want to see play in front of the NBC cameras in June. There were no restrictions on how many votes could be cast by a single person, so there are undoubtedly hundreds, if not thousands, of ballot stuffers. Nonetheless, 329,000 votes is a much larger reaction than we at RUGBYMag.com expected.
Facebook and Twitter posts, retweets and campaigns were deployed, thus exponentially growing the poll constituency, and the results serve as a sign of what being in the CRC means to these programs vying for the four remaining spots. (Note. This poll was just for fun. It has no official impact on which teams get invited, but it is illuminating as to who really wants to attend the CRC.)
We won’t drive home what it means, because the benefits are obvious: more exposure and credibility for your program on your own campus, throughout the national rugby community and the general sports world. But it’s worth noting that the CRC is an opportunity the likes of Bob Stoops, Nick Saban or Joe Paterno would die for - to be the only game on network television on a given day.
One of the teams hoping to be included in the national TV party is Texas. Though the Longhorns were not listed on the poll (a clerical error on our part) they certainly seem like a team that has to be on the CRC selectors’ table. They went 4-1 at the CRC Qualification tournament in Las Vegas, defeating Creighton twice, St. Joe’s and Santa Barbara City College, and the Texas brand is among the most powerful in collegiate athletics.
“Based on kind of who we’ve seen they’ve invited and stuff it looks like they’re kind of going for big-name schools with big alumni followings and stuff, and that’s right up Texas’s alley,” UT coach Butch Neuenschwander said.
“We had a good showing at Vegas and you can’t deny the alumni base of Texas, a campus with 50,000 students on it every year.”
Yet, it’s not entirely clear what criteria the selectors are looking for. “Until they establish some kind of regional playoffs for these 7s,” said Neuenschwander, “until they do that, we’re going on what?”
We can pretty safely assume the selectors want to leverage powerful collegiate brands to maximize both television viewership and attendance, and it seems logical that they’d want competitive games and quality rugby. Whether the former or the latter is more important is the question. If it’s the former, the Longhorns seems like a good fit, even without 84,000 votes (ala Bowling Green) cast in support of them.