The University of California has been invited to field a team for the first collegiate sevens rugby championship in Columbus Ohio. In another first, the 16-side round robin tournament will be nationally televised over four weekend hours by the National Broadcasting Company (Bay Area affiliate KNTV, Channel 11).
Sevens rugby, to be introduced as an Olympic sport in the 2016 games, is a short-form version of the collegiate game that Cal has played for 128 years. Seven-a-side play and seven-minute halves make for a faster-paced game more appealing to an American television audience than the traditional 80-minute rugby union match.
Other teams invited to the sevens tournament include Arizona State, Army, Dartmouth, Florida, Harvard, Michigan, Navy, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, Stanford, Tennessee, San Diego State, Utah and Yale.
The sevens championship will follow a month after the collegiate 15s finals are settled at Stanford's Steuber Stadium May 1. Cal's 15-a-side squad is nationally ranked #1 ahead of Brigham Young University, St. Mary's, Utah and Louisiana State University by American Rugby News and #1 in the Rugby Magazine standings atop BYU, San Diego State, Central Washington and Utah.
NBC will broadcast the sevens tournament in the 11:00 am-1:30 pm (Pacific) time slot on Saturday, June 5 and from 1:30 pm to 3:00 pm (Pacific) on Sunday, June 6.
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