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The first 16 teams for the 2017 Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship, June 3-4 in Philadelphia, are set. Invitations to the first group have been sent out, seeing several of the country’s top programs return for a shot at the Pete Dawkins Trophy.

King among them is defending champion Cal. The Golden Bears have won the last four CRC titles, and they’ll be back in search of another. So will every team that’s been in the final four with them dating back to 2012 – Arizona, Kutztown, Life, Navy and UCLA.

“We are excited about the outstanding field of the nation’s top colleges and universities that will be competing in Philadelphia this coming June,” said Jon Hinkin, tournament director of the 2017 Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship. “It is great to have so many returning favorites, and we look forward to announcing more participating schools in the New Year.”

USA Rugby CEO Dan Payne, who led Life University to the CRC as a coach and administrator prior to becoming USA Rugby’s top executive, is a supporter of the competition.

“It’s a marquee event in the United States for collegiate 7s, and I’ve enjoyed being closely attached to it as it has grown year over year,” said Payne, a former teammate of Hinkin’s.

USA Rugby operates its own collegiate 7s championship, but under Payne, USA Rugby and United World Sports, the owners and operators of the CRC, are looking at additional opportunities to align and promote collegiate rugby moving forward.

 “The two primary factors that I use as the base for the majority of my decisions now is by answering, does it grow awareness, and does it have the potential to increase participation in our sport? The standard the CRC sets definitely achieves both of those through the competition on the field and the broadcast on NBC network television. 

“The CRC is a collection of USA Rugby college teams comprised of rosters that contain USA Rugby registered members that are all in good standing, so it’s incumbent on us to support their efforts to grow the game, grow the participation and grow the awareness the way they do by supporting the event.  If you've never been to the CRC as a fan, I'd suggest you consider attending this June.  It's a great event for Men's and Women's college rugby in America!” 

Returning to the tournament field for the first time since 2013 is Delaware. The Blue Hens finished fifth in 2012 and ninth in 2013 before the program was suspended internally for some time. Last year they competed in the Philly Cup division of the CRC, besting the rest of the local teams to earn a spot back in the big dance.

There are still eight spots left to be filled. At least two will be won on the field, as the Las Vegas Invitational and Heart of America Classic will serve as automatic qualifiers.

2017 CRC Teams to date
Boston College
Notre Dame
Penn State
St. Joe’s
Virginia Tech