One of the great things about the Collegiate Rugby Championship is its potential to unearth great talent. Because of the teams that compete, many of whom are not traditional collegiate rugby powerhouses, the CRC provides players the opportunity to perform on a stage they’d not otherwise be privy to.
This year, the person who shined the brightest under the spotlight was Maryland’s Trevor Tanifum, who came to Maryland from Southampton, England.
“I love the atmosphere, I like the crowd. Back home, this is the way rugby should be played -- loud music environment, and this time we have the chance to get out and play in front of a crowd,” said Tanifum.
“I’ve played maybe four or five times in a stadium like this, but it never gets old. I’m by no means used to it. First game it still gets you, but as you get into the day it eases up a bit.”
From the first game against Florida to the consolation final against Florida, Tanifum thrilled the crowd at PPL Park with astounding agility, speed and ability.
In addition to the hundreds of thousands watching from their living rooms and the 18,000-plus fans from the bank of the Delaware River, there were numerous interested onlookers trolling the press box, suite level and stands. There were high-level club coaches, All American coaches and 7s and 15s National Team coaches.
Had Tanifum and Maryland reached the DI-AA National Championship game played last month at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah, not even then would they have played in front of so many selectors and interested coaches.
Tanifum, with 10, led the tournament in tries. Tanifum, due to an ankle injury suffered in the Challenger Semifinal against Oklahoma (a game in which he scored four tries), was ineffective against Florida in the Challenger final and subbed out in the first half. He did so one try short of Rocco Mauer’s CRC record 11.
A senior, last weekend was Tanifum’s swan song as a Terrapin. But he’s going to stick around Maryland for a little while longer.
“I’ll be around. I’m taking a year off. I’ll be in the Maryland area, so hopefully hanging out playing some rugby,” said Tanifum, who after last weekend, could be playing some of that rugby with the 7s All Americans.
“My coach has pushed me in that direction. I know of (Peter) Tiberio, Rocco Mauer, guys like that who have made a name for themselves in this tournament. Steve Laake, our 7s coach, has a lot of faith in me. He tells me go out there and play your best game, just keep working and you should have a good opportunity.”
Tanifum, showcasing speed unparalleled by anyone else in in the CRC, as well as ferocious defense and a clear set of sharp skills, has earned that opportunity. Now the ball's in the court of those coaches and selectors. Get Tanifum, who says he wants to be an Eagle, in a high performance environment quickly, before he goes back across the pond.