Rugby News & Views From an American Perspective
by Ted Hardy
This weekend, the first ever Big 10 7’s Tournament kicks off what should be a busy fall for collegiate 7’s tournaments. Taking a cue from the SEC and ACC tournaments that are headed into their second year of play, the Big 10 has thrown their hat into the mix of upstart 7’s tournaments that are using traditional NCAA conference setups. With a handful of conference 7’s tournaments already on the slate for this coming fall and even more sprouting in the near future, it appears the fall is well on its way to becoming a popular time of the year for 7’s tournaments.
The Big 10 7’s brings together nine of the 12 member schools from the Big 10 Conference. The nine team field is a great start for the first year tournament with only Michigan, Illinois, and Northwestern not represented in the competition. Of the three missing teams, only Michigan is a regular participant in collegiate rugby.
The tournament is set to take place on Saturday August 27th at the University of Wisconsin Club Sports Complex and there is a full slate of action on tap for the day. Aside from the Big 10 Championship, there is also a four team Wisconsin Collegiate 7’s tournament, a University of Wisconsin alumni/old boys tournament, a Madison United youth rugby demonstration, and a friendly 15s match between the Wisconsin Rugby Club and the Rockford Ravens.
As for the Big 10 Tournament, the nine teams are broken up into three pools. Penn State heads up Pool 1 and faces off against Indiana and Nebraska. The Nittany Lions have the upper hand in the pool, but should get a stern test from both Indiana and Nebraska who is a new addition to the Big 10 family.
Pool 2 appears to be the most interesting pool in the tournament with Ohio State, Minnesota, and Michigan State competing for top spot in the pool. Ohio State has plenty of 7’s experience having participated in the last two CRC 7’s events on NBC. Minnesota often gets overlooked on the college rugby landscape and could come to the tournament with much to prove.
Pool 3 has hosts Wisconsin taking on the relatively unknown Purdue and Iowa. The Badgers should have plenty of fans support from the home crowd as they look to take home the first ever Big 10 7’s title.
The three pool winners, plus the next highest finishing team move onto the Cup round while the next four teams play for the Plate. The last place team from the Big 10 tournaments faces off against the winner of the Wisconsin Collegiate 7’s tournament.
Big 10 7’s Tournament
Pool 1: Penn State, Indiana, Nebraska
Pool 2: Ohio State, Minnesota, Michigan State
Pool 3: Wisconsin, Purdue, Iowa
Wisconsin Collegiate 7’s Tournament
UW-Madison, UW-Whitewater, UW-Milwaukee, Mankato State