This weekend in Albuquerque, N.M. the USA Coast Guard is sponsoring the 2007/08 Division I and II Men’s and Women’s collegiate championships. If you thought March Madness is intense, you have not lived till you see this tournament. 48 teams will come to New Mexico, all with the hopes of becoming a national champion.
In the Men’s Division I bracket there is no question that Cal Berkley are the overwhelming favorite. Cal enters as the number one seed in the tournament, and they have not lost a game in the United States in two years. However, traditional powerhouse BYU will do all they can to stop the Bears. Other teams in the group of 16 include: UC Davis, University of Tennessee, Arkansas State, Kutztown, Bowling Green State, University of Colorado, Air Force Academy Dartmouth, University of Utah, Army, Penn State, Cal Poly, San Diego State University, University of Minnesota, and St. Mary’s. All of these programs have strong rugby traditions, and they will be looking to make an impact on day one.
The Woman’s Division I bracket will see many familiar faces with Penn State and Stanford setting the standard at the top two seeds. In all there will be 10 returning teams from last years fixtures. They include: Navy, the University of Northern Iowa, West Chester University, Chico State University, Virginia, Brown and Texas A& M. Rounding out the field of 16 is U.C. Davis, Indiana University, University of Colorado, University of Florida, Cal, UCLA and Vassar.
Down a level at Division II, the Men’s bracket set up with the following: Middlebury College, Coast Guard Academy, Loyola Marymount, University of Northern Colorado, East Carolina University, Radford University, Utah Valley State College and University of Michigan. Traditionally, the Division II brackets are always tough, with many of the finalist moving on to Division I competition the next year, see Arkansas State.
The Division II Women’s bracket will be a wide open race with U.C. Santa Cruz looking to climb back to the top of the mountain as they did in 2006. Standing in their way is, Norwich University along with a crop of newcomers to the national championships. University of Minnesota-Duluth, Claremont College, East Carolina University, Shippensburg, Wayne State University and Western Washington University, all fresh faces, and looking to leave their mark.
While collegiate rugby has been dominated by the traditional powers, it is still one of the most exciting sports to watch. The level of passion and enthusiasm the players bring to the field is as intense as any World Cup match up. If the United States wants to take the next step in becoming a worldwide power in rugby, this is where it starts. The youth will guide use.
These games will be live streamed at USA Rugby.org, check out the schedule listed bellow.
Friday, April 18th 2:00: St. Mary’s College vs. Air Force (DI Men) 4:00: Univ. of Northern Iowa v Stanford (DI Women)
Saturday, April 19th 9:00: Penn State v Univ of Florida (DI Women)11:30: Norwich v Shippensburg (DII Women) 1:30: Winner of Dartmouth/ BYU v Winner of SDSU/ Arkansas State (DI MEN) 3:30: Winner of Cal/Tennessee and Winner of Army/Cal Poly (DI Men)
Sunday, April 20th 8:30: Winner of TX A&M/ Cal and winner of Vassar/ Navy (DI WOMEN) 11:00: Winner of Coast Guard/ Loyola and winner of Mich/ Radford (DII MEN)