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All the talk about the USA 7s Collegiate Rugby Championship, June 2-3 in Philadelphia, has been about the teams involved, but it’s important to note that this event has become a great one for fans, also.
Breathe Carolina has been signed on as a musical act to perform a free concert, and another band is expected to be signed on, as well. There will be parties and fun activities, but most of all, there’s an exciting college 7s tournament for fans to enjoy.
In fact, there’s more than one, as the CRC will also hold High School 7s tournaments for boys and girls, and some more news is expected soon on other competitions.
But it’s about the fans, and watching the games at PPL Park is not to be missed. Last year’s CRC didn’t draw as many fans as the USA 7s in Las Vegas, but the same sort of fun-loving atmosphere is at both venues.
“I was there last year,” said former Eagle prop George Sucher. “As a Philly local, I was recruited by Dan Lyle to help drive community attendance. Overall I felt the Philly community really got involved, I was able to get a lot of ‘non-rugby peeps’ to the event. There was a general curiosity and the location of the stadium makes it convenient for a large diverse cross-section of the Philly area.”
There were plenty of fans from further afield, too, Sucher said.
Another local also went to support his hometown tournament.
“I was very impressed, and not with just the venue, but the level of play and the excitement of the crowd,” said Marcus Respes. “The buzz in Philadelphia before the event was very positive. Many not involved with rugby at all were very excited to let me know that rugby was coming to the city. Local media had made sure that the word got out about the CRC, even using local celebrity Shane Victorino of the Phillies as a promoter.
“Once the games began I was surprised to see the notable faces in the crowd. Former Eagle head coach Al Caravelli, current Eagle head coach Alex Magelby, former England star Ben Gollings, current Eagle miles Craigwell, former Eagles Tyson Meeks, and Justin Hundley. On the field was current Eagle Peter Tiberio playing with Arizona. This was a star-studded event on and off the field that everyone could enjoy.”
The games provided some surprises, but that’s the beauty of 7s.
“Teams we thought were favorites lost early, teams we thought as underdogs surprised us and won our hearts,” said Respes. “I was very pleased with the level of play that our countries college players displayed. Teams such as Army, Dartmouth showed massive courage and skill. It's was an absolute pleasure to watch.”
It doesn’t hurt that the event is held in PPL Park, which is a modern multi-purpose sports stadium right on the Delaware River. Look out to the river and you can see massive freighters cruise by. The seats were shaded and there was plenty of room to roam around and enjoy the festival and block party when you needed a break.
“The stadium is state-of-the-art with high-end drafts and food,” said Suhcer. “The fanzone was also a lot of fun for families, I brought my 4-, 6-, and 9-year-old boys and they had a blast playing in the fanzone as well as watching the rugger.”
In short, it was a grown-up event.
“It was a spectacle that I truly believe was pulled off with class and professionalism that rugby deserves,” said Respes.
For more on the CRC, go to www.usasevenscrc.com.