Be Prepared

Preparation, Fitness Critical to Clinching CRC Qualifiers

May 6, 2019

Often referred to as the “crown jewel” of collegiate rugby, the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship (CRC) is one of the most highly coveted tournaments in college rugby. Colleges from across the country try to win one of two qualifying tournaments, the Las Vegas Invitational (LVI) and Heart of America Classic (HOA), and earn the associated invitation to the big show that goes to the winner. 2019 Dartmouth College and St. Bonaventure University came out on top in Las Vegas and Kansas City, respectively, thanks to a strong commitment to preparation and fitness.

Dartmouth has a history of success in sevens and is looking to get back to the podium at CRC after winning the tournament in back-to-back years in 2011 and 2012. Winning the tournament is no easy feat and the Big Green have put a big emphasis on their preparation with a focus on small details.

The team has been using GPS tracking technology to maximize the amount of energy they spending practices and games. This technology allows the coaching and training staff to best determine the needs of the players and make adjustments while maximizing the limited time they spend together.

Dartmouth with Penn Mutual staff at the 2019 LVI

“The GPS trackers allow us to quantify how much we are expending in training and it becomes a little bit more productive,” said Dartmouth coach James Willocks. “This process allows us to be as efficient as we can with every minute we have to put our student-athletes in the best possible position to succeed.”

Willocks emphasized doing the little things during games and training to be successful. Putting a focus on recovery, nutrition, film and other aspects makes a huge difference. “The little things add up to big things and are critical to success,” Willocks added.

St. Bonaventure won the Heart of America Classic to clinch its first ever trip to the Penn Mutual CRC. The Varsity program in Western New York has been making great strides under head coach Tui Osborne. Like Dartmouth, the Bonnies have placed an emphasis on building a baseline level of fitness required for the sevens game and is using GPS tracking technology to monitor fitness levels. This was critically important for a St. Bonaventure team that started doing two a day sessions to prepare for the Heart of America.

“Preparation is key and one of the big things in 7s is fitness. We are now able to monitor our fitness levels to make sure that our players are not undercooked or overstressed,” Osborne said.

St. Bonaventure after winning the 2019 HOA

In recent years the team has implemented a three step process for holding the team, players and coaches accountable to each other called “Shoot for Excellence.” The steps include “player accountability,” “player intervention” and “coach intervention.” Each of these steps is designed to keep the team working as a cohesive unit.

“In order to have success in rugby you have to have a plan and each member of the team is accountable to that plan and each other,” said St. Bonaventure captain Eamonn Matthews. “We use the three step process to help us stay focused and prevent outside factors from affecting us in our training or game play.”

Whether it is a CRC mainstay like Dartmouth or a newcomer like St. Bonaventure, teams are focusing on preparation and fitness to make noise at the Penn Mutual CRC.

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