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Notre Dame dropkick. Ian Muir photo

Notre Dame claimed the opening tournament of the Atlantic Coast Rugby League's 7s Series Saturday, in Greenville, S.C. Due to local weather conditions, hosts Clemson elected to move the tournament to a nearby turf field.

With four schools that participated in last year’s Collegiate Rugby Championship, the field was filled with a number of quality teams. Ohio State, Virginia Tech, Notre Dame and South Carolina all participated in the event hosted by United World Sports, and if not for a late dropout from Kutztown, there would have been five CRC affiliated schools.

“It is probably not a coincidence that four of the teams in the tournament were teams that were in the CRC last year and a couple of them seemed very much improved from the performances they had in Philly last year,” said Clemson coach Justin Hickey.

The tournament featured eight schools divided into two groups of four teams. In pool A, Notre Dame knocked off a tough Ohio State squad in route to a 3-0-pool play finish and a berth in the finals. In pool B, Virginia Tech defeated both Louisville and Clemson but stumbled against South Carolina. The Gamecocks, however, lost to Clemson and the point differential favored the Hokies.

Notre Dame defeated Virginia Tech 24-21 in an exciting Cup Final. “They were happy with their performance,” Hickey said of Notre Dame. “They seemed to get better and better throughout the day. Notre Dame definitely deserved it, they played very well on the day.”

Hickey was very satisfied by the strength of play shown this early in the spring season and should be a good precursor to the ACRL 7s Championships in April

“For the ACRL, speaking on behalf of the league, this is the third year we have done the series, and it felt like this was probably the most competitive, high level rugby across the board in any one kind of series event that we have done that was not a championship event,” Hickey added.

The series continues March 21 in Raleigh, N.C., March 28 in South Bend, Ind. and April 11 in Blacksburg, Va. The ACRL 7s championship, which will yield an automatic qualifier berth to the CRC, will be held on April 18th and 19th in Charlotte, N.C.