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

A Wide Range of College Teams Embracing CRC May Madness

irish rugby tours

A Wide Range of College Teams Embracing CRC May Madness

Royaal Jones of AIC soars in for a try during the 2017 CRC in Chester, Pa. Colleen McCloskey photo.

NCR's May Madness college 7s tournament is moving apace and has drawn plenty of interest from college teams starved for competition.

There are some interesting wrinkles to the story of this Memorial Day Weekend tournament to be held in New Orleans.

First off, when the original CRC kicked off in 2010, it was a privately-run college 7s tournament that preempted USA Rugby's slow efforts to take advantage of the fact that rugby became an Olympic sport in 2009. The CRC was held twice before USA Rugby held its own college 7s tournament, and as a result USA Rugby was always playing catchup. Now, with the COVID pandemic shutdown throwing everything into question, National Collegiate Rugby (NCR), which recently purchased the rights to the CRC from what was left of United World Sports, is back, while other organizations closer to USA Rugby (which is, like, everyone) have not announced anything.

The other interesting wrinkle to the story is who is attending. 

A very high percentage of the colleges involved are those that have recently added varsity rugby programs, or have in some way ramped up their support of the rugby programs. What we are not seeing are many of the teams that have attended the CRC in the past, the high-profile club-status teams, or indeed many from the West Coast at all.

Tournament Director Pat Clifton said the hope was for a 32-team men's tournament. Right now we know of 25 teams who are expected to attend. He also wanted a 16-team women's tournament, and right now we know of nine teams attending.

They also have a 10-team conference rep-side 10s division for the men, and an alumni 10s division as well.

CRC/May Madness Men's Teams Expected to Attend:
AIC, Central College, Christendom, Davenport, Denver, Franciscan, Iowa State, Lander, Life, Lindenwood, Loyola, James Madison, Marian, McKendree, Mount St. Mary's, Nazareth, New Mexico Tech, Notre Dame College, Queens, Salve Regina, St. Scholastica, Taylor University, Tulane, Wheeling, and Western Michigan.

Of these, seven could be described as part of the latest wave of varsity programs. Six more were part of the previous wave of varsity and almost-varsity programs. Seven more are not varsity and come from relatively small religious schools. The remaining five are longtime club-status teams, most of which have seen success and, as a result, strong alumni or school support to keep that going.

Competitively, however, it seems clear that this is a tournament where Lindenwood and Life are heavily favored, and the rest are just chasing after 3rd place.

CRC/May Madness Women's Teams Expected to Attend:
Baldwin-Wallace, Bryant, Davenport, Grace, Iowa, Iowa State, Life, Lindenwood, Northern Iowa.

Clearly there is space for more teams here. Competitively this is again a case of Life and Lindenwood and then the rest. Davenport and to a certain extent Northern Iowa could both those top two a little. But there is a big spread between the top teams and the the lower half. That just gives an opportunity for someone to show something.

There will be streaming or broadcast details announced soon, and the tournament has landed a major sponsor. 

"We are thrilled to partner with Rhino Rugby USA to bring college rugby back in a meaningful way with the 2021 Collegiate Rugby Championship," Clifton told GRR. "The CRC has always been the biggest stage for the college game, and this year will be no different. We have an exciting field of schools from all over the country, a robust broadcast and streaming package we'll be announcing in due time, a fantastic major league venue and partner in the Gold Mine on Airline and NOLA Gold, and we're working diligently to deliver an awesomely fun, rich, competitive, and most importantly safe, experience for everyone involved. After all, the experience is what the CRC has always been about."