Before the Terrapins 7s kicked off in College Park, Maryland Saturday, most people believed the final would be between defending national champion Kutztown and Wheeling, the top seeds in their respective pools. But the Golden Bears were stunned by a loss to Notre Dame College, who Wheeling defeated in the final to earn a bid to the Collegiate Rugby Championship, April 28-30 in Boyds, Maryland.
NDC started the day off with a strong defensive effort, beating Southern Virginia, 12-5. The Bears looked strong early, shutting out Delaware, 39-0, and Southern Virginia, 29-0, in their first two games. However, the Falcons were able to slow down KU’s high-powered offense to escape with a 19-14 victory. NDC sailed through the rest of pool play, beating Delaware 27-5 and Salisbury, 31-21, to clinch a spot in the final.
In pool two, Wheeling took command of the table early and never looked back. They defeated host Maryland in the opening match of the tournament, 31-5, before beating pool runner-up Nazareth in a 17-12 thriller. The Cardinals then beat St. Bonaventure, 24-12, before ending pool play with a 41-5 victory over Rowan.
After winning their respective pools, Wheeling and Notre Dame College met in the final. The two schools had faced each other in a championship game earlier this spring, in which Wheeling beat NDC, 45-0, to win at Pitt. Although this final was a much closer affair than the one from a month ago, the result was the same, with Wheeling winning, 21-14. Simo Haddar was named Wheeling’s player of the tournament.
With the win, the Cardinals can look ahead to the CRC where they’ll hope to improve on last season’s quarterfinal exit. Notre Dame College, Kutztown, and many of the schools that appeared in the Terrapins 7s will participate in other qualifying tournaments in an effort to earn automatic bids or build at-large resumes ahead of Selection Saturday, April 22.