April 23, 2024

CRC Preview: Men’s Small College

As the largest division in college rugby, Men’s Small College has one of the most competitive brackets at the CRC. Five conference champions and winners of eight open automatic qualifiers, plus three at-large selections, make up the 16-team field. There will be a new champion this weekend, with 2023 winner Babson qualifying for the Premier Cup. 

Christendom and John Carroll enter as the top seeds. The Crusaders fell to New Mexico Tech in the final of the 2022 CRC in New Orleans, but finished ninth last year. Led by 6 '4'' junior All-American John Kennedy and senior All-American Hugh Wingate, they nipped Franciscan at the death to win the open qualifier in Obetz, OH on March 16 and earn their way back this spring. 

The Blue Streaks defeated Slippery Rock to win their second-straight Allegheny Championship April 13, where Franciscan finished third, but both The Rock and the Barons earned at-large bids. John Carroll finished 2-2 and in 16th place at last year’s CRC. A very experienced Blue Streaks side, featuring just three underclassmen, is led by senior captain Matt Baker. 

Hometown favorite Howard won the Mid Atlantic Rugby Conference to qualify for their second straight CRC. The Bison played in the Premier Cup last season, earning valuable big game experience, and they drew a five seed in Small College for this weekend. They’ll face Southern champion and fourth-seeded Duke in an intriguing opening round matchup, as the Blue Devils have been impressive all spring. The other four vs. five matchup is between St. Thomas (MN) and Denver, coached by Olympian Cody Melphy. 

The two opening rounds of the Men’s Small College bracket will be played Friday and streamed live on National Collegiate Rugby’s YouTube, with the semifinals (11:10 and 11:30 EST) and finals (5:50 ET) set for Saturday live on The Rugby Network.  

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