Life, Penn State & Lindenwood Dominate Opposition - Collegiate Rugby Championship
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As the late spring sun shown down on a picturesque day in Philadelphia, sixteen teams of collegiate rugby’s finest women took the fields. Although a deep field as collegiate sevens has continued to explode in popularity since the inaugural Collegiate Rugby Championship in 2010, there were not too many surprises through Day 1 of the competition. Indeed, if there was a surprise on offer it was the tremendous quality of the top teams.

Pools A, B, and C were no-brainers when it came to predicting the winner. Pool A was headed by Lindenwood. Not only have the Lions reached the final in each of the last two seasons, they are only two weeks removed from winning the USA Rugby 7s tournament. Despite extremely high expectations and hopes of finally clinching the CRC crown, Lindenwood took its game to another level beating Navy (36–0), Notre Dame (43–0), and Northeastern (39–7). Lindenwood was the only pool champion who managed to dominate to the point of being the only team in the pool with a positive point differential. For perspective, Lindenwood’s differential was +111; at second, Navy, was –4.

Navy clinched the second seed out of pool A by defeating Notre Dame (15–10) in each team’s final match of pool play. Earlier in the day Notre Dame defeated Northeastern (31–12), as did Navy (27–12). Northeastern ended with a mere 19 points for, facing 97 against. However, that is far from the lowest performance for a fourth-seed on Day 1.

That distinction went to Indiana, who went 0 from 3 and were out scored an astonishing 135–7. A good reason for IU’s points against was that the pool was topped by CRC defending champion and runner up to Lindenwood two weeks ago: Life. As impressive as Lindenwood’s run through pool play was, Life blew everyone out of the water. Life started by beating Bloomsburg 43–0, then defeated Clemson 69–0, finally throttling Indiana 82–0 to complete a perfect 189–0 day 1. Despite giving up 43 unanswered to start the day, Bloomsburg commanded the rest of pool play, out scoring opponents 50–10, capped off with a 24–7 victory over Clemson to secure the second quarterfinal spot from Pool B.

Pool C was home to the three-time CRC champion (one-time runner-up) Penn State. Penn State enters this CRC with a lot to prove. The former juggernaut and ultimate blue-blood of women’s rugby, Penn State let slip its three-consecutive-title streak at the CRC last year, falling to Lindenwood in the semifinal. To make matters worse, Penn State not only failed to win the USA Rugby 7s title, but slipped to sixth after losing to Dartmouth in the quarterfinal. Despite a poor, by Penn State standards, run in 7s this season, the Nittany Lions looked in rare form on Day 1.

Penn State got things started with a crucial victory over Kutztown (35–5). A monstrous (64–0) shellacking of North Carolina clinched a quarterfinal bid for Penn State. The most remarkable match, in many ways, was the final victory over Drexel. After a 22–10 victory over UNC and a reversal for a 22–10 loss to Kutztown, Drexel entered the match against Penn State with a lot of confidence that they could compete. Penn State removed that confidence in the blink of an eye. In a match where Drexel looked strong for many phases, Penn State made it look easy in pouring it on for a 60–5 win. Penn State’s execution in taking great angles to open lanes made it look easy and will be vital to a resurgence in the CRC on day 2.

The Golden Bears of Kutztown also advanced out of Pool C. The Bears though clearly outmatched by Penn State were consistently the superior team over Drexel and UNC, defeating the latter 27–5 to end Day 1. The women of Kutztown will look to make some noise on Day 2 and as the men of Kutztown take the field as one of the favorites to win it all.

Unlike Pools A, B, and C, Pool D had a certain favorite, but far from the expected level of dominance expected of Lindenwood, Life, and Penn State. That favorite was Dartmouth. The Big Green turned heads in reaching the semifinals of the USA Rugby 7s tournament and are expected to do the same at the CRC. While Dartmouth was expected to finish 3–0 after Day 1, there was little thought that Dartmouth would dominate home-town team Temple, Delaware, and the NSCRO All-Stars. Dartmouth made it through unscathed but certainly had more of a test than the other three one-seeds. Dartmouth defeated Delaware (24–5) and the NSCRO All-Stars (27–5). With a slim, but possible chance at missing the quarterfinals with a loss to Temple, Dartmouth controlled the game to clinch a 24–0 victory and with it the top seed in Pool D.

A close second was the NSCRO All-Stars. A team comprised of some of the best women’s players from smaller rugby programs, the All-Stars lone loss was to Dartmouth, with comfortable victories over Temple (34–0) and Delaware (39–5). Delaware entered that final match looking to avoid a winless start to the CRC. Despite changing their kit ahead of the match, Delaware was unable to avoid an 0–3 Day 1.

2017 Women's Penn Mutual CRC

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