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Was it an idea whose time had come? A USA sevens collegiate invitational tournament, which would be televised nationally.
At the outset in 2010, no colleges played sevens frequently if at all. Although there were summer club sevens events, these were gatherings for the rugger who wanted a weekend of play and lots of fun.
The reason that United World Sports (UWS), the operator of the USA Sevens event in Las Vegas, decided to organize the college event stemmed from meetings with NBC Sports, the official summer Olympics network. The future 2016 Olympics in Brazil would introduce sevens rugby for men and women. NBC needed to air rugby ahead of the that date. Originally, it was disinterested in televising the USA Sevens, since the many nations participating (i.e.; Kenya, Fiji, Samoa, etc.) were unknown to the domestic US sports fans. The network inquired whether UWS could run a college tournament with recognizable college brands (i.e.; Navy, Army, California, Ohio State, etc.).
The format for the CRC would follow the USA Sevens, sixteen invited teams to play in pools, generating an eight-team quarterfinal. Invitations were sent out. Colleges responded with a positive yes, lured by national television exposure.
The initial venue was inside the Columbus (Ohio) Crew Major League Soccer stadium. Columbus was chosen for being somewhat in the middle of the country.
The tournament occurred the first weekend in June, a time when most colleges had ended their spring semester. Only the rugby club remained on campus to train for the CRC event.
The matches began, and to the trained observer, most of the action on the field was substandard, demonstrating a lack of the subtlety of international sevens play. A few teams had played sevens or were familiar with the game, and these marched easily through the pools and the opening, second, day rounds.
The final featured rugby powerhouses, Cal-Berkeley meeting Utah for the title. In an overtime finale, the first CRC championship match proved to be one of the most exciting in the ten-year history of the event. Utah triumphed in sudden death.
The tournament would move the next year to Philadelphia where it remains. Soon after, the Penn Mutual Insurance Company would sign on as title sponsor. The event would be renamed, deservedly, the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship. New teams would emerge like Kutztown and Arkansas State. Dartmouth would win back to back titles. Cal would win many in a row. The number of Women's siides increased annually.
And most importantly, what no one could predict on that June 2010, weekend was the proliferation of sevens and sevens programs in US colleges. No one ten-years ago would predict that many Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship players would graduate into the USA Sevens teams to play competitive rugby in the 2016 Olympics, and to take the Eagles into first place on the international circuit as of April 2019.