GRR on X  GRR on Facebook GRR in Instagram GRR Vimeo Library GRR on YouTube RuggaMatrix America Podcasts Support GRR on Patreon

A Look at The Who and What of College Sevens

irish rugby tours

A Look at The Who and What of College Sevens

Davenport star Aubrey Crist had an excellent tournament in her home stomping grounds in Houston. Calder Cahill photo.

College 7s almost (almost) finished and we have a whole bunch of champions. 

Last Week

Harvard won the CRAA Women's Premier 7s, showcasing some nice parity between NIRA and D1 Elite. OK, true, the D1 Elite leading teams, Lindenwood and Life, had to bounce quickly from 15s to 7s. Lindenwood came 2nd in both D1 Elite and the Premier 7s, which is tough to do. But Harvard did the double, NIRA D1 championship in the fall and the Premier 7s in the spring. 

A nod to Davenport which finished 1st in NIRA D2 and then took 3rd overall in the Premier 7s. Not bad at all.

Premier 7s Order of Finish:

1. Harvard
2. Lindenwood
3. Davenport
4. Dartmouth
5. Sacred Heart
6. Life
7. LIU
8. Princeton
9. Central Washington
10. Penn State

At GRR we talk sometimes about how you don't need to play a ton of 7s to be good at 7s. This tournament flipped that around as the teams that played more 7s this spring—the NIRA teams—outperformed, overall, the D1 Elite teams (NIRA was 9-5 in games between the two).

CRAA's College-Club championship ended up with Western Washington the champions. WWU did this by playing superb defense and exploiting the mistakes that defensive pressure created. Look at Colorado mesa, a team we at GRR thought would be very dangerous in this tournament. Mesa wom their first two games 43-0 and 36-0. But against WWU CMU managed just two tries, and lost 22-12. 

That put everyone on notice. Only Air Force managed to score more than two tries against the Vikins, and WWU's kicking was more successful as they held off the Falcons 19-15. Colorado State was also excellent and almost every game they played was a nailbiter: 19-15, 26-7, 14-10, 17-10, and 7-12. 

College Club 7s Order of Finish:

1. Western Washington
2. Colorado State
3. Air Force
4. Colorado Mesa
6. Cal Poly
7. UC Irvine
8. San Jose State

Last Week

The CRCs crowned several champions:

Men's Premier: Wheeling
Women's Premier: Brown
Men's D1: Louisville
Women's D1: Claremont Colleges
Men's D2: Maine
Women's D2: UW Eau Claire
Men's Small College: Slippery Rock
Women's Small College: Yale

What a wonderful season for Maine in their first run in D2. Claremont Colleges showed they can win on both coasts. Wheeling was excellent. Brown ... would they have the Premier 7s a week later? What about runners-up Army? Or #3 Navy. That's right, the top three teams in the Women's Premier bracket in the CRC were not NCR teams but NIRA teams once again. The #4 team? AIC, also NIRA. #5? Bowdoin, also NIRA. #6? Penn State (D1 Elite). #7? West Chester (NIRA). You have to go to #8 out of the 16 teams in the competition to find a team that played 15s in NCR.

 As for the answer to that question above ... Brown did a brilliant job, but Harvard beat them twice. Those games were very close. Brown, during the spring, did beat Sacred Heart twice and lost to Dartmouth twice. So that puts Brown near the top of the group that played in Houston. Maybe 4th or 5th? You never know. What would have been wonderful would have been to see Brown, Army, Navy, AIC, Bowdoin, and West Chester in in Houston, too.

Coming Up ... or Not

The anticipated D1A 7s tournament in South Carolina has been canceled. Not enough D1A teams confirmed their attendance and so there will be no tournament. That's a shame, and an indication of the growing pains in a division where 7s is being somewhat de-emphasized. It's also an indication that the pressure from some to move the tournament to June was a mistake. Most teams didn't want to, or, more accurately, weren't able to, wait that long. Even those who wanted the tournament in June realized that.

Still, there are plans for a tournament in the 2024-2025 and the most promising ideas we'd put forward (if anyone asked) is either do it in the fall during the Fall Classic ... or do it on Championship weekend. We like the championship weekend because then you just tell every D1A team that can travel: plan to go to Houston. The 15s finalists, and probably the 15s semifinalists, wouldn't be able to do it (except for Lindenwood; those guys will play anywhere). But you could get the other 12 playoff teams (who, presumably, had been expecting to travel to Houston anyway) and 12 other teams, too.

But CRAA is holding another tournament.

Yes, we've got one more. The CRAA D1AA tournament in Bellingham, Wash., at the campus of Western Washington University. 

There will be 10 teams in this tournament, same as the women's Premier 7s. Western Washington, Oregon, Iowa State, Iowa, Sam Houston State (those guys will play anywhere), Texas State, UT San Antonio, San Jose State, Stanford, and an NCRC Selects team made up of players around the Pacific Northwest.

This is not a new approach to 7s, but a more formalized one. Expect to see a D1AA tournament each year now, and we might even see the College-Club women's bracket from Houston (listed above, the one won by WWU) join them in a single event.

7s Not So De-Emphasized

So 7s continues to be important for many college rugby teams throughout the USA. The CRC welcomed 144 teams to their eight brackets (16 for each except Men's Premier, which had 32). CRAA will end the season having held three brackets for 26 teams. If a D1A solution is found, we might see as many as 200 college teams in major tournaments next season.