March 31 - The second-biggest weekend of the qualification season for the Collegiate Rugby Championship is upon us, with 13 automatic bids on offer across four men’s divisions. As many as five tickets to the Premier Cup will be punched, three in Division I Club, one in Division II and four in Small College.
In the latter, both the reigning 7s and 15s national champions will host qualifiers, as the Allegheny Championship in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, High Peaks in Socorro, New Mexico, West Open Regional in Vallejo, California and Wayne State 7s in Wayne, Nebraska are all Saturday.
Two conferences will be hosting qualifiers for multiple divisions; the Southeast Collegiate Rugby Conference and Liberty. The SCRC 7s in Tuscaloosa is slated to send their champion to the Premier Cup and runner-up to DI Club, while also crowning a DII representative. Tennessee, South Carolina and Clemson look like favorites to take the DI conference crown, while Auburn and Memphis look like the teams to beat in DII.
The Liberty is hosting concurrent Premier Cup and DI Club qualifiers at Fairfield and UMass, respectively, with both hosts having a realistic shot at qualifying. The Men’s Premier Cup field is stacked, including two semifinalists from the 2022 CRC in Dartmouth and Iona.
The busiest tournament of the day goes to the Fighting Irish Invitational, hosted by Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. On the qualifier side of the tournament, multiple past CRC participants, including Indiana, Michigan, Purdue, Notre Dame, and Notre Dame College, will compete to boost their resumes.
There are a few other non-qualifying DI tournaments happening this weekend, as well. Mary Washington University will host the second leg of the Rugby East’s 7s series in Fredericksburg, Virginia. The tournament will host DI powerhouses like Kutztown, Mt. St. Mary’s, Virginia Tech and St. Bonaventure. Look for other schools such as Queens, Southern Virginia and Mary Washington to make some noise as well.
Wrapping up an action-packed Saturday is the third stage of the Big Rivers 7s Series. There are several teams to look out for in this tournament. Thomas More and Marian have won the first two stages, but Principia has held strong, finishing second and third, respectively. This series is wide open for the taking, and whoever wins this weekend sets themselves up nicely for the final tournament of the series in a few weeks.