CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – At stake this weekend at the Polar Bear Sevens Tournament for the Harvard rugby team is a golden ticket to the USA Rugby Sevens Collegiate National Championship on May 19. The Crimson (12-3) can clinch a spot in the national tournament by winning the tournament being hosted by Bowdoin College on Saturday, April 21 at Packard Rugby Fields. Harvard's first contest is slated for 10:40 a.m.against Army on Field Two.
Harvard is one of 11 NCAA teams from the National Intercollegiate Rugby Association and USA Rugby competing this Saturday. The Crimson will compete in the Division I bracket alongside American International (AIC), Army, Boston University, Dartmouth, Northeastern, Norwich, and Maine. The following pools have been established:
Pool A: Northeastern, Harvard, Maine, Army
Pool B: Boston University, Dartmouth, New England, American International
Pool C: Bowdoin, Colby, Maine, New England, Middlebury, Army-B
Pool D: Northeastern-B, Maine/Middlebury-B, New England-B, Boston University-B, Colby-B
Pool play begins at 10:20 a.m. and is expected to last until 5 p.m. The Crimson will meet Army on the gridiron at 10:40 a.m., with matches against Maine and Northeastern scheduled for 12 p.m. and 1:20 p.m., respectively. The semifinal rounds are projected to start at 2:40 p.m.with the top finishers from Pool A and Pool B competing in a crossover semifinal with the runner-ups at 3 p.m. The championship bout is penciled in for 4:40 p.m.
The Crimson is 12-3 on the year and has reached the finals of each tournament it has entered. Harvard's offense has proved versatile this season, as three different student-athletes have led the Crimson in scoring in each tournament: Milan Roberts had 46 points (6 tries, 8 conversions) at Crimson 7s, Delia Hellander netted 42 points (6t, 6c) at Brown 7s, and Arianna Romero had eight tries at Ivy 7s. Additionally, seven different student-athletes have registered 20 or more points on nine occasions: Crimson 7s - Sarah Lipson (7 tries), Hellander (3t, 5c), Roberts (6t, 8c), and Dominique Cantave (4t); Brown – Hellander (6t, 6c); Ivy 7s – Romero (8t), Hellander (4t, 7c), Rachel Harkavy (4t), and Susie Clements (10c). Defensively, the Crimson have earned four victories by virtue of shutout and limited opposing teams to 10 or fewer points in six additional contests. Harvard has outscored opponents 386-113 to date.
The Black Knights are 10-0 this sevens season. Army won its second sevens tournament of the year at the AIC 7s Tournament on April 14. The Black Knights shut out Norwich, Boston Univ., New England, and AIC, allowing just one try and conversion against Northeastern. Same Sullivan led Army with seven tries, while Bayleigh Gable touched down six times and completed 21 conversions.
As a varsity program, Harvard's A-side is 1-7 in the all-time sevens-series with Army. The lone win came as a 25-5 victory at the Quinnipiac 7s on April 2, 2016.
This will be the first meeting Maine and a varsity Crimson sevens team.
Northeastern's sevens side has been competing since the fall season. The Huskies have won three tournaments: Cianci 7s on Nov. 19, Siena 7s on March 18, and New Hampshire 7s on April 8. NU placed fourth at the AIC 7s Tournament last weekend after falling to Norwich, 19-12, in the third-place match. The Huskies defeated New England, 27-10, Boston University, 19-14, and Norwich-B, 33-0, while losing to Army-A, 38-7, in pool play. The Huskies then dropped a 19-17 decision to the host Yellow Jackets in the semifinal round.
This will be Harvard's first meeting with Northeastern as a varsity sevens program. Harvard's B-side defeated the Huskies, 19-17, at this year's Crimson 7s Tournament.
Last Time Out
The Harvard rugby team reached the finals of the Ivy League championship for the third straight year, but fell to Dartmouth in its quest for a third straight Ancient Eight crown. The Crimson cruised through group play and the league semifinal, outscoring foes 174-14. Freshman Arianna Romero led Harvard with eight tries for 40 points. Delia Hellander tallied 34 points behind four tries and seven conversions, while three other student-athletes registered at least 20 points. Sabrina Kim concluded the tournament with 22 points (4t, 1c), while Rachel Harkavy (4t) and Susie Clements (10c) were each responsible for 20.
Last Time at the Polar Bear 7s Tournament
This will be the first appearance at Bowdoin College's Polar Bear 7s Tournament as a varsity program.
Harvard's 7s in `17
The 2017 sevens season saw Harvard win its second Ivy League Championship in a row and finish third in the nation. The Crimson earned its No. 3 national standing after going 4-1 at the NIRA 7s Challenge. Harvard topped West Chester, 17-7, AIC, 24-5, and Dartmouth, 10-7, in group play, but was defeated by Army, 26-7, to finish second in pool play. In the third-place bout, Harvard upended AIC, 26-5, to conclude the year as the No. 3 team in the country.
Harvard became back-to-back Ivy League champions when it defeated Dartmouth in the final. The Crimson swept Columbia, 29-0, and Penn, 45-0, before falling to Dartmouth, 12-0. Harvard then won a 22-19 battle against Princeton to earn a spot in the Ancient Eight title game where it used a strong second half to defeat the Big Green, 10-5.
The Crimson went 4-3-1, reaching the Ivy League Championship and NIRA National Semifinal. Senior captain Maya Learned, juniors Caitlin Weigel and Jenny Kronish, and freshman Milan Roberts earned All-America honors. Senior lock Haley Langan was bestowed an All-America honorable mention. Roberts paced the Crimson with eight tries, while Weigel scored seven times and converted four times. Learned accumulated five tries, while Kronish led the team with 24 conversions.
National Intercollegiate Rugby Association
NIRA is a cohort of 17 member institutions sponsoring NCAA rugby at their respective divisional level (I, II, or III). Together these schools committed to the expansion of women's rugby and achieving full NCAA sponsorship. Harvard, along with Army, Brown, Dartmouth, Mount St. Mary's, Quinnipiac, Sacred Heart are NIRA Division I programs. American International College, Central Washington, Long Island University-Post, Molloy College, Notre Dame College, and West Chester University are Division II schools. Bowdoin College, Castleton University, Norwich University, and the University of New England compete at the Division III level. Each compete against the others for the NIRA national title.
Harvard concludes the regular season at the Army Sevens Tournament on Saturday, April 28. Pending qualification, the Crimson will compete at the USA Rugby 7s Collegiate National Championship in Glendale, Colo. on Saturday, May 19.