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The Collegiate Rugby Championship brings cameras, a top-notch venue and professionalism. USA Rugby’s College 7s National Championship provides open qualification. Both events have their fundamental flaws, but combine the best of them, and you might have the ideal vehicle for showcasing college rugby.
Until now, there’s been no reason to believe any kind of collaboration between USA Rugby and United World Sports, (formerly USA Sevens) the company that owns the CRC, might come to fruition. There still might not be, but at least the lines of communication are open where they’ve previously been closed.
“And I think that’s probably a mistake on both parts,” USA Rugby collegiate director Rich Cortez told Rugby Today regarding the lack of communication between USA Rugby and UWS.
“But we have established dialogues with other interested stakeholders also, regarding that. So we’re trying to get a broader view of things rather than opinions from the blogs or commissioners alone. We are trying to broaden our input so we can get an idea of what works for people and what doesn’t, knowing we’re trying to cram two codes into the same academic year, and one code was tough enough.
“We intend to keep an open dialogue with all competitions to see how we can complement each other rather than working at odds. Or, if the idea of restructuring is in order, we’d certainly look to that.”
It’s entirely too early to speculate that the two major college 7s tournaments in this country are going to merge, even if talks are happening, as there would be plenty of kinks to iron out. Chief among them is the billing of the CRC and the Varsity Cup, another UWS entity, as national championships. USA Rugby is reportedly taking steps to try and validate its claim that only its championships are true national championships.
“Everyone’s trying to move us further down the acceptance into the larger sporting public’s, whether it’s the fan’s or media’s, eye. So when you have a number of different championships all claiming to be the national championship, and particularly when they are not open, free and open qualifying, I think it’s confusing to an outsider, and I think it’s even confusing to insiders,” said Cortez.
“The issue we’re dealing with is we’re trying to gain a legitimacy with institutions and at least identify ourselves in the mind’s eye of non-rugby people, and I think it leads to confusion, just like DI-A and DI-AA, and that’s of our own doing.”
While on one hand Cortez seems open to partnering with UWS to merge with the CRC: “All options should be on the table at all times and all discussions with all people to see if we can make two parts into one and better, or four parts into one or better, or one part into two and make it better, we don’t know.”
He seems to remain poised to charge on with USA Rugby’s current 7s tournament and contest the CRC’s claim to being a national championship: “It’s a well-publicized invitational that has achieved some interest. And the CRC makes rugby recognizable, because they joint ventured with NBC, and that’s great. We are not sitting on our fannies. We’re going to be looking toward television, and we’re working hard on that end as we speak, because the more exposure we get from whatever source is going to help us.”
No matter what happens, at least the two sides have seats at the same table.