Small colleges are joining the 7s craze, pursuing a national crown in conjunction with the Collegiate Rugby Championship.
Following regional qualifiers to be staged in April and May, eight teams will contend for what amounts to the division 3 title at the June 7-8 1-2 event in Philadelphia, the National Small College Rugby Organization said in a prepared statement.
The tie-up juxtaposes an organization that meticulously runs 15s playoffs for schools with generally less than
5,000 4,500 *male* students, with a designed-for-TV seven-a-side competition that favors large universities because of their commercial attributes.
The arrangement is also notable in that the 7-year-old, can-do NSCRO, which claims to encompass 40 percent of America's rugby-playing colleges, is choosing a time of year opposite the fall 7s season which USARFU has sought install.
In a preliminary survey, some 80 of NSCRO's 211 men's teams expressed interest in the 7s competition, NSCRO said. Many are from its heartland on the Eastern seaboard and the Midwest; have traditionally played 15s in autumn; and apparently see no place for themselves in the fall tournaments which lead to Boulder's division 1 competition in November.
NSCRO's 15s championships, also held in springtime, have grown quickly since their 2008 debut. If successful, the 7s initiative would underline that the common observation that what most American rugby players mostly want is to compete for national championships.
All three of the 7s tournaments require participants to pay their own way. The CRC and NSCRO events additionally require teams to purchase (or commit to selling) event tickets. NSCRO is exploring ways to offset team costs, according to people familiar with the matter.
The events also contrast in that the primary Philadelphia venue is a Major League Soccer facility, rather than an out-of-the-way college campus; NSCRO pool and consolation matches will be outside PPL Stadium.
As the CRC is nationally broadcast, on NBC, leading division 1 teams have sought invitations.
Rocco Mauer will make his 2012-13 7s World Series debut in Las Vegas, replacing the injured Maka Unufe. The US, which fell to 14th place in the standings after a winless Wellington tournament, have drawn Australia, Samoa, and Spain in Las Vegas.
United States to United States 7s
Andrew Durutalo, Nick Edwards, Jack Halalilo, Matt Hawkins (captain), Colin Hawley, Luke Hume, Carlin Isles (all USARFU), Rocco Mauer (Chicago Lions), Folau Niua, Blaine Scully, Shalom Suniula, Zach Test (all USARFU)