CRC Field Filled Texas, OU New to Event
March 5, 2011
By Pat Clifton
USA Sevens’ Collegiate Rugby Championship set for June 4-5 at Philahelphia’s PPL Park has finalized its field of 16 with the addition of Dartmouth, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Texas. Dartmouth and Ohio State return from the inaugural event, and Texas and Oklahoma will be making their national television debut, as NBC looks to expand its coverage this June.
Ohio State was one of the featured teams from 2010, and Josh Holland and Nate Ebner were captivating performers as they lead the Buckeyes to a Cup Quarterfinal appearance.
Both Ebner and Holland should be back in action for OSU this time around, and perhaps a rematch of one of last year’s more entertaining games between them and Penn State is on the table.
Dartmouth , as one of the Northeast’s top rugby programs, also makes a lot of sense, especially given the East Coast location of this year’s event. Like Ohio State, Dartmouth reached the Cup Quarterfinals in Columbus.
The addition of Texas and Oklahoma brings in not only two big-name college brands with huge alumni bases, but also one of the country’s best college rivalries. Don’t be surprised if the 7s version of the Red River Rivalry is among NBC’s choices for live coverage.
Texas did itself a favor by going 4-1 and winning the consolation bracket of the CRC Qualifier in Las Vegas. The Longhorns have a young but quality 7s side, which received a little coaching help from former 7s Eagle Dallen Stanford. Now that they’ve been added to the CRC field, perhaps Paki will be enticed to extend more experience and tutelage UT’s way.
Oklahoma was an attractive addition not only because of their brand and alumni base, but because of Taylor Mokate. Mokate was the only college player to appear for the 7s Eagles in February’s USA Sevens, getting his first cap after playing three full matches with Belmont Shore in their Club Championship Series run earlier that day. Mokate is a bruising runner accompanied by some speedy talent.
The completed field consists of schools affiliated with five of the six BCS conferences (all but the Big East) and teams representing eight of the nation’s top 12 TV markets. It also includes the defending 15s DI national champion (Cal), two final four participants (Cal and Army), the reigning CRC champion (Utah), and the winner of the CRC Qualifier (Central Washington).