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The College Rugby Championship (CRC) for 2011 decided, for the first time, to welcome eight women’s sevens sides into the tournament. The list included Penn State, Brown, Temple, Navy, North Carolina, Princeton, Virginia, and Army, six of whom competed in the last three D-I national championships.
The June tournament would take place less than two-years after the International Olympic Committee voted in October 2009, to insert rugby (in the seven-a-side version) into the 2016 Olympics for men and women. Although men’s teams competed in many sevens fun tournaments, mainly during the summer, American women organized few domestic sevens events, although there was an unofficial National Club Championship. The annual New York RFC tournament on Thanksgiving proved the exception, welcoming men’s and women’s teams from the USA and Canada.
The 2011 CRC would be one the sparks that ignited increased sevens play for American women. Navy had hired Sue Parker, a sevens specialist. Penn State’s Pete Steinberg (former USA 7s assistant coach) would bring some of his school’s international sevens players to Philadelphia, and his squad were considered the favorites.
From the June 2011 event, interest and participation increased geometrically for women’s sevens play. Eventually, World Rugby would initiate a three country international women’s seven’s circuit in 2011-2012 to provide competitive events for national sides. This would segue into World Rugby’s Women’s Seven Series (12 teams) that started in 2013. The US finished third, fourth, and fifth in the four tournaments since then. Many Eagle players - both men and women – can trace their seven’s beginnings to the CRC.