This past weekend at PPL Stadium in Pennsylvania, sixteen of the nation’s top collegiate rugby teams battled for the right to be called CRC National Champions.
Following a day and a half of competition, four teams set themselves apart from the pack: Life University, the small chiropractic school from Marietta, Georgia making their debut appearance at the CRC; the legends from out west, Cal; the Arizona Wildcats, led by USA Eagle Peter Tiberio; and the defending champions, Dartmouth.
The first semi-final match placed Life vs. Arizona. Dan Payne, head coach of the Life Running Eagles, referred to the game as one of the biggest matches in school history. Already well respected in 15s, Life looked to expand their national notoriety by advancing to the finals. On the other side, Arizona hoped to send off team captain Peter Tiberio out with a national title. Both teams looked evenly matched and went into the half with Arizona leading 7-5. Arizona came out firing after the break with quick tries by Jack Arnold and Tiberio. Life was never able to close the gap and the final score sat at 19-12.
In the second semi, Cal and Dartmouth played a shoot out and kept the game close throughout. Cal pulled ahead taking the lead 17-9, and entering the final minute of the game, it looked as if Cal would play spoiler to Dartmouth’s attempt to repeat as champs. But with 43 seconds left to play, the Big Green scored a try under the posts to tie the game. Derrick Fish added the conversion, securing the victory 19-17.
In the third place match Cal took the lead early and never relinquished it. Life was never able to gain the poise they had earlier in the tournament and lost 26-7.
In the final, Arizona was plagued with injuries, beginning when star player Peter Tiberio suffered a broken forearm while attempting to make a tackle. Immediately after, Trent Fisher suffered a high ankle sprain. With the loss of two of their key players Arizona was never able to get the stride they had before. Dartmouth on the other hand, played their best game of the tournament, and their efforts were more than enough to secure their second consecutive CRC title with a score of 24-5.