The road to the 2023 Collegiate Rugby Championship is officially open, as the Michigan women became the first team to punch its ticket by defeating Iowa 24-0 in the final of the Hawkeye Classic Feb. 12 in Iowa City. The Wolverines won the first of more than 60 spring qualifier tournaments leading to the CRC, April 28-30 at the Maryland Soccerplex in Boyds, Maryland.
The 2023 field will be the most qualified in the CRC’s 13-year history, with 70-percent of the 120 competing teams coming from either conference championships or open national qualifiers. For those who miss out on automatic qualification, at-large bids will be determined by the Selection Committee, and full brackets will be announced on Selection Saturday, April 22nd.
Men’s Premier Cup
The top bracket featuring 32 teams is open to teams from all divisions, though six Division I conferences will see their champions earn automatic bids: Big Rivers, Big Ten, Liberty, MAC, Rugby East and the Southeast Collegiate Rugby Conference.
They’ll be joined by the champions of five open national qualifiers. Two of which are already at capacity, the Monumental 7s on March 25 in Boston hosted by the New England Free Jacks before their Major League Rugby tilt with the Dallas Jackals and the Fighting Irish 7s on April 1 at the University of Notre Dame.
The former in Massachusetts will feature reigning CRC champion Kutztown, along with Indiana, St. Bonaventure, Queens, AIC, Iona, Nazareth, Fordham, Columbia, UMass, UConn, Babson, Albany, Colgate and Merrimack, and the latter in South Bend will include Indiana, Notre Dame College, Adrian, Aquinas, Middle Tennessee State, Washington (MO), Marian, Michigan, Illinois, Purdue, Western Michigan and host Notre Dame.
All but one spot is taken for the Terrapin 7s in College Park, Maryland on March 11, which so far includes Notre Dame College, Delaware, Southern Virginia, Salisbury, Kutztown, Rowan, St. Bonaventure, Nazareth, Tulane, Maryland and Dayton. The Crimson Storm Classic on March 4 in Bethany, Oklahoma has host Southern Nazarene along with Principia, McKendree, Air Force, Marian, Rio Grande and Iowa Central signed up, with room for more.
The other national open qualifiers are Mooseman 7s at Middle Tennessee State University on March 18 and Utah Valley 7s in Orem, Utah on April 1. Both are still open for registration with room to grow.
Women’s Premier Cup
With 16 teams, the Women’s Premier Cup is also open to teams from all divisions, and the champions of the Midwest and Big Ten conferences receive automatic bids. The done-and-dusted Hawkeye Classic, along with the Crimson Storm Classic March 4 at Southern Nazarene University and the Boise State tournament April 1 are the open national qualifiers. Registration is open with room to grow in Oklahoma and Idaho.
Men’s Division I Club
The Big Ten, Liberty, MAC, MARC, SCRC and Southern conferences receive automatic bids to this 12-team division. There are no open national qualifiers for men’s DI Club.
Women’s Division I Club
The Upstate New York, Lone Star, Midwest and South Atlantic conferences will send representatives to this 8-team division. There is no open national qualifier for this division.
Men’s Division II
With 15 conferences and just 12 bids on offer, some leagues have combined championships, including the Allegheny/Tri State, High Peaks/West, Mid-East/Cardinals, Northern Lights/Great Lakes and Deep South/SCRC to give every conference a direct pathway to the CRC. The conferences with an automatic bid include the Gateway, Great Midwest, MARC, New England Wide and Southern. The lone open national qualifier is Mooseman 7s on March 18 at Middle Tennessee State University.
Women’s Division II
Eight conference champions will advance to this 12-team division, including those of the Great Lakes, Lonestar, Ohio Valley, Rugby Northeast, Allegheny and South Atlantic. The Great Waters and Northern Lights conferences will combine their championships, producing one representative. There are no open national qualifiers for this division.
Men’s Small College
With far more conferences than bids available for this 18-team division, several smaller conferences have combined championships, giving every conference a pathway to the CRC. The lone open national qualifier is April 1 at Cal Maritime.
Women’s Small College
10 of the 12 bids to this division will be claimed by conference champions. The winners of the Mid-America, Upstate New York, Lone Star, Colonial Coast, Eastern Penn, Ohio Valley, Rugby Northeast, Allegheny and South Atlantic will receive automatic bids, as will the champion of the combined Great Waters and Northern Lights qualifier.