Powered By Blogger

Saturday, April 27, 2024

College Rugby at its Finest (ft. John Fitzpatrick of Rugby Morning)


The 2024 CRC's did not disappoint. A uniquely American tournament format featured a "win and advance" style of bracket, and the excitement that came with the high stakes was exhilarating. 

Premier Division - 

1st Place: Wheeling 

Back in January, Aaron Juma and Joe Iye led the Great Lakes NCR all star team to a cup final in Round Rock Texas. The two players dominance continued this weekend as Wheeling blew through their Saturday & Sunday competition. Juma is ready for the next level, and should be considered for a PR 7's contract this summer.

With 10 players from Zimbabwe and South Africa coach Michael Geibel shows he can recruit internationals aplenty, fielding an extremely competitive collegiate side. Will the college game ever have a cap on internationals? For now it comes down to how many scholarships you have and how hard you're willing to recruit.

2nd Place: Kutztown

At just 5'7", 155lbs, Chris Cleland is once again in dominant form. Last year's tournament MVP for Mount St. Mary's is now suiting up for the Kutztown Bears and showing size doesn't really matter in 7's. The flyer is excellent at stretching defenses in open space, just gassing teams off scrum set piece. Would winning back to back championships with two different schools be a first for the new age "transfer portal" collegiate era?

Kutztown fielded a team with an English / American blend. Four players from England and one from Scotland mix with American recruits from Pennsylvania and Georgia. The Kutztown program has been elite for the better part of a decade and won the entire tournament in 2022.

3rd Place: Babson

First of, let's just take a step back and realize that Babson (a small college) moved from the small college division ALL THE WAY up to the Premier bracket. That's a massive leap in competition, but they never flinched and clearly belong with the top competition. 

Brice Muller stands out at 6'6" 230 lbs, the Fairfield Prep grad has had as big of an impact on a program that a freshman can provide. A pivotal part of Babson's small college XV's championship, he can do it all. Run, pass, tackle, lineout ... he's a jack of all trades and will surely be a force for Babson in his next 3 years.

4th Place: ICCC 

Dubbed "The United States of Iowa Central" for the weekend, coaches Brent Nelson and Joe Lippert have built a mid-west monster in Fort Dodge Iowa. The Tritons have gotten better year after year and the program's success shows that you don't need a large group of alumni boosters to build a successful program. 

The majority of their scoring was done by Hlanga Mbela who was carving up defenses throughout the weekend. Noah Champion & Koen Webb created an impact running hard and straight earning the front foot in attack, while the skipper Matt Surles-Davis was ice cold in defense as he chopped down large ball runners all weekend .

Division 1 - Louisville blanks North Carolina State 29-0

Division 2 - Maine stuns Georgetown at the death 19-15

Small College - Slippery Rock beats St. Thomas 19-12

In the end, it was an exhilarating Friday and Saturday for the tournament. The women round out the championship rounds on Sunday and hopefully the event will be just as spectacular next year.

Special thanks for John Fitzpatrick of Rugby Morning for hopping on the show.


No comments:

Post a Comment