Six up-and-coming collegiate men's Rugby Sevens squads will compete in the 2017 Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship in the College Challenge bracket this coming June at Talen Energy Stadium.
Represented in the six-team bracket are Philadelphia-region favorites Villanova University, West Chester University, Drexel University and Rowan University, Mount St. Mary's (from Emmitsburg, Maryland) and Fordham University (Bronx, New York).
The six-team competition gives burgeoning men's college Rugby Sevens programs the opportunity to qualify for the main men's Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship field in the following year.
At the 2016 Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship, the University of Delaware Blue Hens defeated Mount St. Mary's, 36-10, to earn a place in this year's 24-team Penn Mutual Collegiate Championship bracket.
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Four-time defending champion University of California, returning to the pitch on which they have won the Pete Dawkins Trophy in an unprecedented show of dominance, headlines the 24-team Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship field. Along with the Delaware Blue Hens are the men's college rugby sevens squads from the University of Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas State, Army, Boston College, Dartmouth, Indiana University, Life University, Navy, University of Notre Dame, St. Mary's College (Moraga, California), Tennessee, UCLA and Virginia Tech and Wisconsin, as well as Philadelphia-area favorites Kutztown University, Penn State, Saint Joseph's and Temple University.
The remaining three men's teams will be determined through a process of selection and qualifiers. This will be the second consecutive year that the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship will feature a 24-team field competing for the Pete Dawkins Trophy, named after the All-American football standout at West Point won the Heisman Trophy in 1958. Dawkins was a Rhodes Scholar and attended Oxford, where he used his outstanding football skills to make him a star on the Oxford Varsity rugby team, revolutionizing the game in the process.
The 2017 Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship will mark the seventh consecutive year that the event has been held in Philadelphia and at Talen Energy Stadium, bringing national and International attention to the region through the live broadcasts on the networks of NBC Sports.
The two-day rugby festival is one of the largest gatherings of collegiate and high school rugby teams in the world, with over 30,000 anticipated to be in attendance. Penn Mutual is in the third year of a title sponsorship for the event, and NBC Sports will once again return as both broadcaster and event partner.
The "World's Largest Collegiate Rugby Festival" also includes a 16-team collegiate women's rugby championship bracket and the National Small College Rugby Organization (NSCRO) national championship, as well as a national high school tournament with both boys' and girls' teams. Fields for each of those events will be announced in the coming weeks.
The interest in Rugby Sevens (also known as Rugby 7s) continues to grow following the sports return to the Olympic Games in 2016, following a 92-year hiatus. The Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship is part of a nationwide effort to build American rugby talent for competition on the International stage. In the past four years, the event has produced over a dozen players who have gone on to play for the U.S. National teams.
In addition to its CRC sponsorship, Penn Mutual is also title sponsor for The Varsity Cup, the collegiate championship of the 15-a-side rugby format.