The quest to qualify for the 32-team men’s Premier Cup at the Collegiate Rugby Championship continues Saturday with tournaments in Missouri and Tennessee.
The second of four stops on the Big Rivers 7s Series kicks off at Forest Park in St. Louis, as teams play for conference standings and to build resumes for potential at-large bids. Marian won the first stop in Bethany, Oklahoma, defeating Iowa Central in the final, 19-10. The Crimson Classic doubled as an automatic qualifier for the CRC, so the Knights roll into St. Louis with a bid to the big dance already in hand.
The 10-team field is split into pools of five, with Adrian, McKendree, Thomas More and Iowa Central’s seconds joining Marian in Pool A. Pool B includes the Tritons’ first side, Thomas More’s seconds, Trine, Aquinas and Principia, the veritable home team from just across the river in Elsah, Illinois and third-place finishers in the series opener.
Thomas More, Adrian and Aquinas are making their series debuts, having not competed in Oklahoma. The penultimate Big Rivers tournament is set for April1 in Cincinnati and the finale for April 15 in Adrian, Michigan.
In Murfreesboro, Tennessee Saturday, Mooseman 7s is hosting a 16-team, hybrid qualifier for both the Premier Cup and Division II. Six Division I teams and two Small Colleges, including Christendom, already qualified for the 18-team Small College field at the CRC, will start on one side of the bracket. All DII teams are on the other side of the bracket. Both feed to the championship, with the tournament winner earning a bid to the Premier Cup, and the top-finishing DII team also qualifying for National 7s.
Wheeling enters as the top seed, having already won two tournaments this spring. The Cardinals topped a 10-team field at Terrapins 7s in College Park, Maryland last week, punching their ticket to the CRC. Notre Dame, which won its lone match at the rain-plagued Las Angeles Invitational last month, is another contender. On the DII side of the bracket, Miami (OH) is a favorite to do well, as are East Carolina and Auburn.