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Group is one of the strongest groups in the tournament with all four teams having participated in last years CRC event. Dartmouth and Kutztown should vie for the top spot in the group but St. Joes and Notre Dame will be good competition.
After two consecutive CRC victories, Dartmouth was ousted in the quarterfinals last year by a strong UCLA squad. This years squad features a number of experienced players including junior standout Madison Hughes.
Hughes has been pacing Dartmouth the last three seasons after busting out on the scene in 2012. He has recently gained experience with the US Eagles in the HSBC World Series, playing legs in Tokyo, Hong Kong and …
Perhaps the fastest player in the tournament, Hughes uses his speed and agility to create space for himself and his teammates.
After a disappointing exit in 2013, Dartmouth is looking to regain its championship form.
“We are excited for our chances. We are coming in with a strong squad. We learned a lot after the loss last year. We had a good first day and we put ourselves in a position to win that quarterfinal game but let ourselves down at the last minute. We are doing everything possible to avoid doing that again,” Hughes told Rugbymag.
Dartmouth will be looking to the senior leadership of Kevin Clark and Wilson Chockley. Clark is going to his 4th CRC and is a potent force on the wing.
In the end Hughes believes they will need the entire roster to win the Pete Dawkins Trophy.
“It will take everyone from 1-12 on the roster playing up to their ability for us to get where we want to be.”
Kutztown will be looking to foil any hopes of Dartmouth returning to the final and will be certainly be a difficult opponent.
Led by the South African Michael Lawrenson, Kutztown is known for its tremendously physical squad. Standing at 6-7, Lawrenson possesses a strong combination of size and speed.
Kutztown has dedicated the entire spring semester to working on 7s. With a 37-1 record in the spring, the Running Bears have focused on specific aspects of their game.
"We are a lot more prepared this time around. We made some mistakes last year. We have focused on our conditioning and our goals. If we stay within the system we’ve been training in we can have a tremendous amount of success," said Lawrenson.
Bruce Dolan, scrumhalf Niku Kruger and Veta Kina Malafu will be players to watch this year. As a small school, Kutztown is hoping to bring its name to the upper echelons of collegiate rugby.
"We want to show the nation that Kutztown rugby is a strong program," Lawrenson told Rugbymag. "Even though we are a small school we have a great rugby program."
While Dartmouth and Kutztown are favored to advance to the Cup playoffs,
Notre Dame finished 2-1 in pool play last year, although were denied
advancement to the Cup Quarterfinals. The Fighting Irish ultimately lost
12-10 to Delaware in the Plate Final.
Tom Hickey leads the Notre Dame effort and he is a handful. The Irish surprised many by making it to the Plate Final in 2013, finishing 3-2 on the weekend. If they are lightly-regarded again, they can certainly cause problems.
St Joe's finished 1-2 last year with a close loss to third place UCLA. The
Hawks eventually lost to Notre Dame 5-0 in the Plate Semifinals. Close
losses have plagued St. Joe's somewhat, as they lost a close final to Penn
in City 6 qualifier in the fall. The Hawks also challenged in the college
bracket of the LVI, becoming the only US-based team to make the semis, and
barely losing out on a place in the final.
Freshamn scrumhalf Jimmy Wolfer is an outstanding talent for St. Joe's.