The 2012 version of the Collegiate Rugby Championships (CRC) put on by USA 7s exceeded 2011 in terms of on-the-field product.
On The Field
The teams were much better from top to bottom in 2012. The worst teams in terms of records were a lot better than the worst teams in 2011. Army, 2011′s runners up, took the longest fall in 2012 and ended up as the bottom team. The Cadets were inexperienced, and tactically unsorted.Navy had hard luck in 2011, and it was Army’s turn in 2012.
North Carolina State, Life, Wisconsin, Delaware, Florida and Maryland were added to the field in 2012 as replacements for Utah, LSU, Ohio State, Central Washington, Boston College and North Carolina.
Except for Utah, the replacements were better than the 2011 participants who did not come back. Delaware made up for Central Washington. Maryland equaled LSU’s 2011 success.
Athletically, , the players seemed relatively equal from team to team. They all obviously prepared and worked hard. The overall skill was better than 2011. Cal, Dartmouth and Arizona were WAY above the rest in terms of skills, athletic ability and game knowledge. Cal impressed us a lot, particularly on their attack of the restart. The bears scored multiple tries on taking their own kickoffs out of the air. It was poetry. But Dartmouth was sweet as pie, too. Their ability to hit gaps in support gave the opposition no time to react.
The big issue between teams seemed also to be the ability of Dartmouth, Arizona and Cal to use space. Too many of the less-experienced teams always seemed one pass away from scoring. Too many guys tried to power over the other team or do all the work themselves. Dartmouth did well at attacking the gaps then offloading. The teams that lost seemed to miss that last, crucial pass.
American coaches should put more emphasis on passing skills and space awareness. The work off the ball (players without the ball in hand) made Cal and Dartmouth really destructive. Cal players took great angles when they did not have the ball, compared to other teams that seemed to move in large, looping movements. Better angles by support players would have led to more tries. “Let the ball do the work” needs to be drilled into young players heads more and more.
That stated: the quality of play was much better from 2012 over 2011.
Off The Field
The crowd on Saturday was sparse. RugbyMag says it was about the same as 2011, but that seems a stretch (RugbyMag is owned by the same company that owns USA 7s). Sunday was better than 2011 for sure. Event organizers say 1,000 more people attended total in 2012 than in 2011. One issue with Saturday’s attendance is that the crowd was very team-specific. So if, for example, Life was not playing – the Running Eagles’ fans were doing something else.
The vendor area seemed well attended throughout Saturday. We did not make it to the beer garden until after Saturday’s play. The concert was not well attended – as compared to the Dropkick Murphy’s in 2011.
We saw a few Wisconsin fans have to be kicked out of the concert venue for being falling-down drunk, and displaying attitude. But those were the only shenanigans we saw.
It was a good event, but more people need to attend. Rugby people would enjoy the quality of play, and it is fun. USA 7s needs to add Texas A&M to the lineup. They should also bring back the women’s teams.