The road to New Orleans, home of the 2022 Collegiate Rugby Championship, where four men’s and two women’s 7s National Champions will be crowned, opens in earnest this week and includes over 20 automatic qualification tournaments around the country. The tournaments include Open Automatic Qualifier and designated conference championship tournaments, and will run from late March through April.
NCR Automatic Qualifier Tournaments
On March 26, Notre Dame will be hosting the first of five open Automatic Qualifiers, Fighting Irish 7s in South Bend, IN. These tournaments are open to teams in all divisions, providing any team a chance to prove themselves against the top competition in the country.
The weekend will consist of 28 high-level programs and will be a great return to Collegiate 7s rugby for both the players and the fans at one of college rugby’s most scenic venues - Stinson Rugby Field. There will be some incredibly competitive games that could foreshadow match-ups we’re likely to see in New Orleans this May.
April 2, two more teams will punch their ticket to the Premier Cup with qualifiers in Quincy, Massachusetts and Boise, Idaho hosted by Major League Rugby’s New England Free Jacks and Boise State University, respectively.
In New England, 16 of the top college teams from the Northeast will do battle as a curtain raiser before the first-place Free Jacks host the Utah Warriors. Competing will be some of college rugby’s bluebloods, like 2011 and 2012 CRC Champion Dartmouth, and Kutztown, who has reached four CRC semifinals, including finals appearances in 2014 and 2015.
In Boise, teams from California, Washington, Utah, New Mexico, Montana, Oregon and Idaho will try and win their way to New Orleans.
April 9, the road to the CRC stops in Atlanta, where Clemson will try and claw its way back to the National Championship for a fifth appearance and their first since 2019. Attempting to steal their bid will be Queens College, a varsity upstart that’s been making waves along the East Coast since rugby’s return from COVID.
The final open qualifier is April 23 in Oklahoma City, hosted by another new varsity program, Southern Nazarene University. This event will attract another of college rugby’s most storied programs, Air Force. Only Cal and BYU have won more 15s national championships than the Zoomies, who are hoping to improve on a quarterfinal appearance at the 2021 CRC.
For the first time ever, the CRC has expanded to include a national championship for Division I Clubs, providing non-varsity programs from around the country an opportunity to play on college rugby’s brightest stage.
The Ivy, MARC, Chesapeake, Southeastern, Liberty and MAC conference championships will serve as automatic qualifiers for this field, with the CRC Selection Committee doling out at-large bids to qualified applicants.