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The first 15 teams for the 10th Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship May 31-June 2 at Talen Energy Stadium in Philadelphia have been named. Nine more spots remain on offer for the crown jewel of college rugby, including automatic qualifiers at the Las Vegas Invitational Feb. 28 - March 2nd, the Heart of America in Kansas City March 30-31, and the Southeastern Collegiate Rugby Conference championship.
Notable amongst the initial group of teams is St. Mary's. The Gaels made their CRC debut in 2017, sweeping their pool before losing 7-5 to Life in the quarterfinals. St. Mary's won USA Rugby's championship in 2016 and claimed the 15s national title in 2014, 2015 and 2017. The Gaels are an instant contender for the Pete Dawkins Trophy.
Fordham is the only one of the initial 15 to have won its way in, the Rams claiming the 2018 Freedom Cup title. That tournament is run concurrently with the CRC, and the winner gets a bid to the main show the following year. Fordham is joined by Big Apple rival Iona, which reached the quarterfinals in its CRC debut last year, falling to Arizona.
The Wildcats return, as do last year's winners, Lindenwood, and two-time runners-up Kutztown, UCLA and Life. Philly rivals Temple and St. Joe's are back, as are the auld rivals, Army and Navy. Penn State, Notre Dame, and two-time champs Dartmouth, all of whom have participated in every CRC to date, return, too.
The annual event also features a 16-team Penn Mutual Collegiate Women’s Rugby Championship bracket, which will also be defended by Lindenwood University; the Freedom Cup Championship featuring a six-team men’s field vying for a spot in next year’s main bracket; the National Small College Rugby Organization (NSCRO) national championship; as well as a national high school tournament with both boys and girls teams. Fields for each of those events will be announced in the coming weeks.