April 29, 2023

Sun Shines on CRC Saturday

April 29 - After non-stop rain shortened Friday’s action, day two of the Collegiate Rugby Championship saw great weather, raucous fan support, and every men’s division culminated with national semifinals. 

Upsets were aplenty in the Premier Cup, with only two No. 1 seeds making the semifinals. In men’s Division I, it’s a coastal battle between Clemson and San Diego. IUP’s hunt for back-to-back national titles is still on in Division II, with N.C. State standing in the way. And in Small College, last-year’s third-place finisher, Babson, faces cross-state rival Springfield for the crown. 

Upset by Small College Cinderella Cal Maritime in the second round last year, local Mount St. Mary’s did the upsetting this year. Chris Cleland scored four tries in the team’s opening win against Michigan, before adding two more in the Mount’s 21-7 upset win over higher-ranked Adrian. The Mount had a great defensive effort in their win over top-seeded Wheeling, snubbing the Cardinals 7-5. Leland added one last try in Mount St. Mary’s 22-5 win over Belmont Abbey in the semifinal.

Led by Scholz award nominee Peyton Wall, the Hoosiers won their first two games with a combined score of 53-5. They won their next game over Queens, before beating defending champs Kutztown 26-5 in the semifinal, anchored by two tries from Wall. 

In the Men’s DI Club division, San Diego looked dominant. After finishing 3-0 in pool play, including a shutout of Boston College, they cruised into the final by getting another shutout, beating North Carolina 22-0. Clemson also had a dominant run to the championship game, finishing pool play undefeated and going on to beat UConn 19-12 in the semifinal. 

Division II featured several exciting finishes, including the quarterfinal between Georgetown and Memphis. Neck and neck in the final minutes, the Hoyas down by one, Georgetown had a penalty restart with seconds remaining. Instead of going for the game winning try, Georgetown was able to convert a drop goal to move into the semifinals with a 17-15 win. 

Unfortunately, their good fortune would end there, and would lose 17-12 to a very good NC State team. They’ll face IUP, who won a 15-14 semifinal when Norwich knocked on the game-winning try with only seconds on the clock. 

In the small school men’s division, Springfield opened the day playing a game postponed by Friday’s torrential rain, winning a nail biter against Susquehanna, 14-12, to book a spot in the quarterfinals. They then went on to beat Cal Poly Humboldt in another 14-12 game, before having to face the top seed Wabash in the semifinal. 

The Little Giants got off to a quick 10-0 start, before Springfield scored 26 unanswered points to take a commanding lead. Wabash would add one more try, but it wasn’t enough, and Springfield moved into the final with a 26-20 win. On the opposite side of the bracket, Babson faced another surprising team, Coastal Carolina. The game had two yellow cards, but Babson was able to get their man back first and cruised to a 21-5 victory.

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