Babson Rugby Makes Return Trip to Philadelphia for NSCRO Men’s 7s Championship

Babson Rugby Makes Return Trip to Philadelphia for NSCRO Men’s 7s Championship

BABSON PARK, Mass.—After getting a taste of its first National Small College Rugby Organization (NSCRO) Men's 7s Championship experience under fifth-year head coach Carrick Pell in 2016, the Babson College men's rugby team is hoping to make a triumphant return to the City of Brotherly Love this weekend as the Beavers look to bring home their first national title.

Entering the 2017 championship at 19-3-1 and just one of three schools to return to nationals from a year ago, Babson placed sixth in the 2016 eight-team field.

"Last year was a struggle across the board for everyone," said Pell. "Nobody expected it and the preparation time was minimal. We were shell-shocked from the start. This year, the athletics department has provided amazing support and the school has allowed us to be set up for success. We've trained in New Hampshire the last eight days and we've put in all the work. They're ready to go, they're fit and they're hungry."

"We didn't know what to expect last year," said rising senior captain Sam Casey. "We played nervous as opposed to our attacking Babson rugby style. We thought we had the talent if we prepared the right way, but we didn't and it galvanized us to come back this year and take advantage of our experience and to make sure we leave Philly a little happier than we did last time."

The Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship will host the NSCRO Men's 7s Championship for the fifth straight year. The squads will be divided into two four-team pools. Babson will play each of the other three teams in its pool on Saturday on a world-class grass field alongside Talen Energy Stadium. The top two teams from each pool advance to Sunday's semifinals inside the stadium.

Carrying 12 players on its roster this weekend, the Green and White opens play against St. Mary's College of Maryland on Saturday at 9:20 a.m. The Beavers will then face Duke University at 11:40 a.m. before finishing the day with Solano Community College at 2 p.m. Sunday's semifinal games will take place at 8 a.m. and 8:20 a.m., leading up to that afternoon's championship match at 3:17 p.m.

"Our goal this year was to make it to the stadium," added Pell. "For us, I don't want the guys to set their end goal as the national championship because anything short of that could literally be a bounce of the ball or a single mistake. For us to make the final four it will be a success in my mind, but if we don't have that trophy we won't be happy. We'll perform, leave it out there and see what happens."

"We feel more a part of the athletics department than we ever have," said Casey. "It would be an honor to bring back the cup for the school and be a part of this historic spring. We've taken it upon ourselves to be more like a varsity program, whether it's training 5-6 days a week or wearing the same gear.  We're feeling the support of the school and the respect of the other programs. We want to keep it going and make everyone proud."

A winner of the 12-team central region 7s championship qualifier on April 27 at Founder Field near Pittsburgh, Pa., Babson went 5-0 before downing Susquehanna University, 21-5, to capture the title. Susquehanna had not missed out on nationals until this season.

The NSCRO division includes hundreds of schools nationwide with full-time male enrollment of under 4,500 students. 74 NSCRO teams competed in this year's eight qualifying tournaments, marking the largest number of squads to participate in the NSCRO qualifiers to date.

"The rise of the program came from our players," said Pell. "Each year they have progressed, and every year they ask for a specific goal and I set the standard to be a little bit more. The culture of our program come from our pillars of family and faith as number one, school and work as number two, and passion as number three. These guys manage their time and they prioritize properly."

"With our team, we have a sense of inclusiveness," said Casey. "As we grow, Carrick continues to challenge us and put higher level systems in place so we can all move forward together. It's paid off so far and we hope it will continue to pay off this weekend."