All eyes are on the Monumental 7s in Quincy, Massachusetts, this Saturday, as the largest open qualifier for the Collegiate Rugby Championship is hosted by Major League Rugby’s New England Free Jacks. 16 teams fill out the bracket, with the champion and runner-up punching their tickets to National 7s April 28-30 at the Maryland Soccerplex in Boyds, Maryland.
The defending CRC champion, Kutztown University Golden Bears, come in with a bid already in hand and are fresh off winning the title at Bermuda International 7s last week. KU avenged an earlier loss to Brown in the final, beating the reigning 15s national champions 22-7.
Indiana is another squad to keep an eye on. The Hoosiers fell short of their second-ever final-four berth last year, losing to runner-up Dartmouth by a conversion, but two players earned their first caps with the United States national team in the wake of the CRC, Noah Brown and Will Chevalier, both of whom are in the lineup for Monumental 7s. Saturday will be the Hoosiers’ first 7s action since last May.
Before the favorites can meet, they’ll have to win three matches in a row, and there are plenty of landmines in the field. Iona was a semifinalist at the CRC last spring, and this year they’re coached by former England star Ben Foden. The Gaels have already picked up a statement win over vaunted Brown in his short tenure.
Third-seeded St. Bonaventure is another tough out, as is Nazareth. The Golden Flyers are 7-6 this spring, with three tournaments already under their belts against stiff competition.
Next week, the road to the CRC widens by several lanes, with 22 teams qualifying from 18 tournaments across all eight men’s and women’s divisions.