Philadelphia - It's official: the USA Sevens Collegiate Rugby Championship is underway. And to inaugurate the second annual event, all 24 men's and women's teams converged at Philadelphia landmarks to celebrate what promises to a remarkable event.
|Temple leads the charge up the Philadelphia Art Museum stairs. (Todd Bauders)|
With NBC Sports camera crews on hand to document the occasion, the CRC 7s teams piled onto the Philadelphia Museum of Art's cascading stairway and raced up the steps Rocky-style before posing against the Philadelphia skyline for group pictures. Mr. Balboa was in full approval, as his statue on the museum grounds sported a custom-made rugby jersey, which players gleefully posed against.
Aside from the energy exerted up the stairway, the excitement for the event's kickoff was palpable, especially from local team Temple, which has both a men's and women's side competing in the tournament.
"We've been preparing up to four times a week, and it's nice to finally see it all come together," Temple men's captain Pat Greider said. "After our loss in the [College Premier Division] Sweet 16s, we went straight into 7s. We understood the mounting pressure to be prepared for this tournament, so we put it together quickly and responded well."
Greider head the team's ticket sales and was encouraged by his school's support. "We've worked with the student government to get the word out, and a lot of people bought tickets," Greider added. "There were a couple thousand people at our DII championship game last year, but we've had nothing close to this kind of national exposure."
Rachel Bandura, Temple's women's team captain, was equally anxious to perform in front of hometown fans. "It's great having the tournament in Philly," Bandura said. "All of our families come out, our friends, and our school's really supporting us."
CRC Tournament Director Donal Walsh, USA Sevens Tournament Director Dan Lyle and Jon Miller, President of Programming for NBC Sports and VERSUS, all echoed Bandura's sentiments at the opening reception at Chickie's and Pete's, another Philadelphia institution. The trio exuded as much eager anticipation for the second iteration of the tournament, which has found ample support in the City of Brotherly Love.
The action kicks off tomorrow afternoon at the Vidas Athletic Complex, which hosts the women's competition's pool play. The women join the men's division at PPL Park on Saturday.