16 teams will be competing this weekend at UNCG in the largest Sevens Tournament of its kind in the Country
GREENSBORO, NC (April 23, 2014) – Eight men’s rugby teams representing the Atlantic Coast Rugby League will share the spotlight with an additional eight teams representing Southern Conference schools in a unique display of solidarity on the campus of UNC Greensboro April 26-27. The Southern Rugby Conference features three teams that have competed in USA Rugby Division 2 national championship tournaments in the past 2 years (Elon, East Carolina, and UNC-Wilmington) while the Atlantic Coast Rugby League’s championship boasts Virginia Tech, Maryland and first year ACC member Notre Dame, all of whom will play in the prestigious Collegiate Rugby Championship (CRC) in Philadelphia in early June.
“The sevens game is more fan friendly and fast-paced than the traditional 15s game,” said Chuck Wurl, Rugby Coach at UNCG. “It gives spectators the opportunity to see a lot of different teams and styles of play in a short amount of time.” Patrick Kane, former Head Rugby Coach at Wake Forest and one of the founders of and current Commissioner of the ACRL, is especially excited to have the team from Notre Dame participating for the first time in this championship event. “The Irish have a rich tradition as one of the oldest collegiate rugby programs in the Midwest. They have been very successful in recent years at the CRC and are expected to make a hard run at this ACRL championship.”
Kane noted that the changes within collegiate rugby with most teams in the eastern, midwest, and southeast portion of the country now playing 7s in the spring rather than the fall has been great for the sport at the college level. “With a large geographically contiguous group of conferences now playing a unified fall Rugby Union (15 a-side) and spring Rugby 7s schedule, there is great opportunity for multi-tournament conference series such as what the Southern Rugby Conference did this spring and multi-tournament open invitational series such as what the ACRL sponsored this spring. And the culmination of these two conference championships in one location is going to make a great finish to the conference seasons.”
Like most competitive sports, rivalries in rugby are already emerging as teams take a similar wary view toward traditional school rivalries within NCAA sponsored leagues. Host UNCG is led by Chuck Wurl who graduated from Elon and was an assistant coach there prior to signing on with UNCG late last spring. When his Spartans opened the new RSC Series with a narrow victory over Elon to claim the first round title, alumni from both schools took quick notice.
“I’ve been called a turncoat and traitor, yada yada” said Wurl, “but that is one of the beauties of this sport. The civility usually returns quickly after the final scrum.”
The collaboration between the two conferences in contesting their tournaments concurrently adds credibility to the national initiative to make Rugby 7s a popular addition to the US sports landscape once it debuts as an Olympic sport in 2016. USA Rugby recently publicly announced its interest in tendering for the right to host the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens, joining over ten other countries who have registered an interest in hosting the event with the International Rugby Board.
The Greensboro Sports Commission has taken the lead in growing the sport in the region, having sponsored last May’s USA Rugby DIA Men’s Championship at UNCG and the Men’s and Women’s Sevens National Championship at the Bryan Park Soccer Complex last fall. “We have been hedging that rugby, especially the sevens version, is about to emerge as a popular sport among both youth and adult players throughout the country,” said Kim Strable, President. He also praised UNCG and the Athletic Department staff for supporting this emerging sport in a big-time way. “The facilities at UNCG are first class and it says a lot about their outstanding leadership to allow a non-NCAA sport to stage their championship events on their campus.”
Play begins Saturday morning in Spartan Stadium with a 9:00am match between East Carolina and Furman and games to follow at 22 minute intervals. In 7s rugby, contests are scheduled for 15 minutes with a running clock and a one-minute intermission. ACRL competition will begin at Spartan Stadium beginning at 10:30pm. General admission ($5 per day) includes all games on UNCG’s Intramural Field or the stadium field and children 12 and under are free. For more information: Please contact Kim Strable at 336-335-1583.
About the Atlantic Coast Rugby League (ACRL)
The ACRL has been a national leader in collegiate 7s, having sponsored one of the first collegiate conference 7s championships in the country in 2010 and having also hosted one of the first Collegiate 7s Series beginning in the fall of 2012. This will be the 5th ACRL Championship with prior winners being North Carolina State (2010, 2011), Virginia Tech (2012), and Navy (2013). Notre Dame will be appearing in this tournament event, which will mark its first participation in an ACRL event since the university became a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, and Maryland will all be playing in the Collegiate Rugby Championship in Philadelphia in early June. This championship is one of the premier collegiate rugby 7s events in the country and will be televised by NBC. www.usasevenscrc.com
The teams participating in the ACRL 7s Championship are: Clemson, Maryland, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.
Previous Champions – Atlantic Coast Rugby Sevens:
2013 – United States Naval Academy
2012 – Virginia Tech
2011 – North Carolina State University – formerly Atlantic Coast Invitational
2010 – North Carolina State University – formerly Atlantic Coast Invitational
2009 – Boston College – formerly Atlantic Coast Invitational (Fifteens tournament)
2008 – University of Virginia – formerly Atlantic Coast Invitational (Fifteens tournament)
About the Southern Rugby Conference
Founded in January, 2011 in accordance with USA Rugby’s College restructuring initiative, the Southern Rugby Conference (SRC) includes a dozen, long-standing and tradition-laden men’s college sides.
Member teams have captured state, regional and national championships. Two teams – Furman and Coastal Carolina – have collected a combined four small college national championships.
USA Rugby Div. II teams in the Southern Rugby Conference are aligned into three divisions: Coastal: Coastal Carolina, College of Charleston, The Citadel, and UNC-Wilmington Piedmont: Eastern Carolina, Elon, UNC-Charlotte, and UNC-Greensboro Mountain: Appalachian State, Furman, Lander and Western Carolina
The recent growth of sevens rugby can be attributed to its adoption as an Olympic Sport for the Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympic Games in 2016. Division II colleges and universities nationwide and in the Southern Rugby Conference saw the opportunity sevens provided by allowing more teams to compete with one another. Sevens rugby doesn’t require the large roster numbers or traditional infrastructure of a 15s team. The Southern Rugby Conference decided to play their traditional 15s matches in the fall of 2013 and begin a Sevens Series in the spring season. There were three tournaments held; the first at The Citadel where UNC Greensboro bested Elon, onother at East Carolina University, with UNC Wilmington victorious over Coastal Carolina, and the final event at Appalachian State, where Coastal Carolina survived soggy and cool conditions to beat Elon to earn the #1 seed in the upcoming conference championship (see http://www.rugbysouthernconference.com for standings and events). The conference champion at UNC Greensboro this weekend will qualify for a spot in the USA Rugby Division II National Championship tournament (TBD). There will be a trophy presentation for the top three finishers from the SoCon.