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Pool C at the CRC features four traditionally big name schools. Texas and Michigan are up and coming rugby programs and Ohio State earned the final of the berth to the CRC by winning the Big 10. Navy, who finished 4thin last years after falling 43-7 to Life in the semi-finals should win this group.
Navy finished the 2013 group play with a 2-1 record and fifth overall in the cup playoffs. After defeating Penn State in the quarterfinals, the Midshipmen fell to Life University in the semifinals.
"We believe we got a good draw this year and are certainly capable of winning the group. Texas and Michigan are good programs and Ohio State is a bit of an unknown but we think we have a very good squad this year," coach Mike Flanagan told Rugbymag.
The 9-10 combination of Ricky Neel-Feller and Jack McAuliffe lead a very athletic and fit Navy squad. As a service school, Navy’s baseline fitness is one of the strongest in the tournament.
Navy has been getting progressively better the last few years and has its eyes set on a CRC title.
"We have climbed a rung each year," said Flanagan. "Our goal is to get to the finals and our ultimate goal is to win the CRC."
Navy feels poised to make another jump this year due in large part to a very healthy squad and a strong roster.
Flanagan expects Alex Johnson, John Ruck, Jacoby Getty and Dakota Raymond to become impact players for the Midshipmen.
"Our identification process is getting better each year. Our identification cycles are good, our training cycles are good and we are just really excited to get back on the field and compete."
Texas returns to its 4th CRC after a disappointing result last year. After two forays into the Cup quarterfinals, Texas struggled in the 2013 CRC.
"We have had a history of success at the CRC but last year we were extremely banged up and were missing several players," coach Chris Hopps told Rugbymag.
"This year we kept an eye on player management hoping to keep them fresh and it is the healthiest we have been in years."
Texas believes they are capable of winning the group and look forward to the competition.
"Anything short of a cup berth will be somewhat disappointing because we are expecting big things from this group."
Despite the high expectations, Texas believes the group is rather challenging.
"You do not know what Ohio State has and Michigan has never been to the CRC before. Navy is exciting because it's become a mini rivalry with them. We are excited to play them again after splitting with them in the fall and knocking them out of the USA 7s championship."
Forward Taylor Hayes who is a sound offensive and defensive player leads Texas. In his first CRC, Peter Hyams will be adding pace while the experience of Noah Villalobos and Skyler Talley will bode well for the Longhorns.
Michigan comes into its first ever CRC excited to showcase all the work they have put in. The Wolverines know it will not be easy but look forward to the opportunity of playing three big time programs.
"It is a good pool and it is great to have rival Ohio State in there. There is no easy game and Navy will certainly be a staunch opponent," said Michigan coach Matt Trenary.
Michigan's strength lies in its team chemistry and flexibility. A number of players can play a number of different positions for the Wolverines.
"We have enough height to compete at the kickoffs and enough speed to score tries."
Sequoyah Burke-Combs is fiery athlete who is always around the ball both offensively and defensivly. His fire and passion should motivate the Wolverines.
Complementing Burke-Combs is their lead by example Captain Joel Conzelmann. A reserved player, Conzelmann is a tireless worker who makes plays makes his tackles and makes his kicks.
Rounding out the pool is Ohio State. The Buckeyes qualified for the final spot at the CRC by winning the Big 10 7s tournament earlier this spring and bring with them perhaps their best team approach in some years. They have benefited from the expertise of the Tiger Rugby program and their coaching staff in Columbus, and it showed. Danny Noland was a handful in the Big 10 tournament.