Fordham’s football program has grown into a perennial powerhouse both in the Patriot League and on a regional scale, so can the fast-rising sport where football came from also be on the way to national prominence?
It appears so, as Fordham’s Rugby Sevens team earned its first-ever trip to a tournament with national prominence on Monday, as the Rams were one of six up-and-coming collegiate men’s squads that will compete in the 2017 Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship in the College Challenge bracket this coming June at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pa.
The event, which will determine the national champion for both men and women in the Olympic sport of Rugby Sevens (not traditional 15’s), will draw over 30,000 people for two days of competition at the home of the MLS Philadelphia Union before a national audience on NBC and NBC Sports Network.
Fordham will be joined in the six-team bracket by Philadelphia-region favorites Villanova University, West Chester University, Drexel University and Rowan University, as well as Mount St. Mary’s University (from Emmitsburg, Maryland). The six-team competition gives burgeoning men’s college Rugby Sevens programs the opportunity to qualify for the main men’s Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship field in the following year and is by far the highest honor rugby at Rose Hill has had in quite some time.
The Rams will be joined during the weekend by Army, who returned to the main qualifying field last year, and have risen as a national powerhouse as well. Four-time defending champion University of California, headlines the 24-team main Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship field. Along with the Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens are the men’s college rugby sevens squads from the University of Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas State, Army, Boston College, Dartmouth, Indiana University, Life University, Navy, University of Notre Dame, St. Mary’s College (Moraga, California), Tennessee, UCLA and Virginia Tech and Wisconsin, as well as Philadelphia-area favorites Kutztown University, Penn State, Saint Joseph’s and Temple University. The remaining three men’s teams will be determined through a process of selection and qualifiers in the coming month.
Another sport worth watching in The Bronx.