Two more teams punched their ticket to May Madness last weekend at the Premier Cup Automatic Qualifiers in Boise and New England. At Apres Rugby 7s, hosted by MLR’s New England Freejacks, collegiate rugby powerhouse Kutztown earned their bid to May Madness after a phenomenal showing. Kutztown, coming off an early upset at the Fighting Irish 7s the week before, clearly showed up in New England with something to prove, dominating every team they came up against and out-scoring their opponents by over 100 points on the day. The Golden Bears took a commanding victory over the University of Notre Dame in the semi-finals 47-5, before going on to defeat Northeastern in the finals 21-7. After punching their ticket to the CRC, Kutztown will be looking to make a return to the finals this year for the first time since consecutive appearances in 2014 and 2015. Notre Dame took third in the tournament by bouncing back and beating Harvard 28-5. Iona, Nazareth, Dartmouth and Fordham all put in good performances on the day as well, proving it will be a tight race for the remaining spots at May Madness. At the end of this exciting tournament, the players turned to fans as they switched gears from 7s to 15s, enjoying some of the highest level of rugby in America. The first place New England Freejacks hosted tenth place NOLA Gold and were upset 31-22 for their first loss of the season.
At Boise State 7s in Idaho, Cal Maritime snuck past Utah Valley in the semi-final after the UVU Wolverines made a crucial mistake, throwing the ball forwards out of bounds rather than kicking it when time had expired. Utah Valley was leading the game 12-10, but the intentional forward pass penalty gave Cal Maritime another chance and they made the most of it, working the ball 55 meters down field for a game-winning try. Maritime left no doubt that they deserved a trip to the National Championship, going on to handily defeat Montana State in the final 25-7. Utah Valley took fourth in the tournament after losing a tight contest with host team Boise State 10-5. Oregon State lost early to tournament winners Cal Maritime, but went on to dominate their opponents throughout the remainder of the day and bring home fifth place, showing they will be a strong force going forward this season.