CARY, N.C. – WakeMed Soccer Park, in conjunction with Town of Cary and the Triangle Sports Commission, will host the fifth edition of the USA Rugby College 7s National Championships in Men’s Division I, Men’s Division II, and the Women’s Division next Memorial Day weekend, May 28-29, 2016, USA Rugby announced Friday.
In partnership with IMG, USA Rugby’s National Championships at the collegiate level of the newest Olympic Summer Games sport – Rugby Sevens – returns to North Carolina after University of Denver held the event in 2015. Bryan Park Soccer Complex in nearby Greensboro hosted the 2013 tournament as more than 600 players, coaches, and fans took in the southern hospitality of the Tar Heel State.
“The College 7s National Championship has become an extraordinary event in our domestic calendar,” USA Rugby Collegiate Director Rich Cortez said. “Spectators from around the world have tuned in to our full tournament broadcasts featuring All-Americans, exemplary student-athletes, and future Olympians alike. Cary will be an excellent destination of the early summer for anyone feeling the Olympic itch. Furthermore, the number of teams competing is a solid indication of the growth and popularity of the championship.”
Home to North American Soccer League’s Carolina RailHawks and located within a 15-minute drive of Raleigh-Durham International Airport, WakeMed Soccer Park contains a 10,000-seat natural grass stadium with two additional championship fields, as well as multiple practice fields on site.
The 150-acre complex saw its first rugby action with the 2015 NACRA Sevens Championships in June 2015. Sixteen men’s and women’s national rugby sevens teams converged on the Triangle Region of North Carolina in search of a place at the Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games, with the representatives of the United States – the Men’s and Women’s Eagles Sevens – securing the two spots available.
Men’s captain Madison Hughes is just one Olympic hopeful to have showcased rugby sevens prowess at College 7s, which is one of the first tournaments of the sevens season to have national team scouts on hand.
“The Triangle Sports Commission is excited to build off of the successful NACRA Sevens Championships by hosting another prestigious event,” Triangle Sports Commission Director of Events and Operations Faryn Roy said. “We look forward to welcoming these teams to Cary and showing them some true southern hospitality as they compete for a National Championship.”
USA Rugby-sanctioned automatic qualifying events will take place throughout the country as opportunities for college rugby’s best to earn their place in one of the three College 7s National Championship brackets. Following the completion of the automatic qualifying tournaments, the majority of the 24 Men’s DI, 12 Men’s DII, 16 Women’s DI, and eight Women’s DII teams will have solidified their places at the National Championships. The select few remaining spots will be awarded to teams based on on-field résumés.
IMG’s promotional support and overall expertise in marketing sporting events created a platform for which participating universities and their rugby teams gained national exposure during the 2015 round of National Championships. The New York City-based organization will continue to strive for off-the-field excellence for the governing body and its member clubs, events, and members.
“The Town of Cary is excited and proud to host college rugby teams from across the country in May at WakeMed Soccer Park,” Town of Cary Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources Director Doug McRainey said. “We believe these teams will enjoy playing at our championship-caliber facility and we plan to offer them a top-notch venue.”
More information related to College 7s National Championships automatic qualifying events, broadcast coverage, and ticketing will be released in due course.