March 14, 2024

Men’s Premier Cup, DII, Small College Qualifiers Saturday

The first Men’s Division II and Small College teams of the season will qualify for the Collegiate Rugby Championship Saturday in Obetz, OH, as the Allegheny Conference crowns its DII champion, alongside the first of nine open qualifiers in Men’s Small College. Defending national champion Indiana University of Pennsylvania is the favorite to win the Allegheny, while nine teams vie for the Small College bid. 

On the Men’s Premier Cup qualifier series, Kansas City, MO is the fifth stop Saturday with City 7s hosted by the Kansas City Rugby Football Club. 16 teams from six conferences take the field in a bracket format, with the winner earning a berth to the CRC. Plate, Bowl and Shield champions will also be crowned. 

Two teams emerged from this tournament to play in the CRC last year; Air Force in the Premier Cup and Missouri in Division I Club. In 2019, St. Bonaventure won it to earn an automatic bid, as did American International College in 2017. 

Picked as the No. 1 seed in the top half of the bracket is Principia of the Big Rivers Conference. The Thunderchickens draw Division II Pitt State in the opening round. The winner sees either the Central College Dutch or the Drury Panthers in the second round. Central is a formidable Small College team from Pella, IA, and the Panthers a newer varsity program in Springfield, MO. 

Also in the upper half of the bracket, Division I Southern Nazarene faces Division II Wisconsin Whitewater, and Small College Benedictine plays Colorado, with the winners and losers squaring off in the second round. No team from this quadrant has ever played in the CRC before. 

Iowa Central, having already punched its ticket to National 7s at the Crimson Storm Classic, is the top seed in the bottom half of the bracket. The Tritons face Colorado’s second side in the opening round and either Creighton or returning runner-up Missouri in the second round. 

The bottom quadrant features four teams from the Heart of America; Kansas State, Minnesota, Kansas and Nebraska. The Wildcats and Gophers will play in the opening round, as will the Jayhawks and Cornhuskers. No team from this group has ever played in the CRC, either.

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