With two months until the 2014 Collegiate Rugby Championship, teams across the country are gearing up for the major championship. While at the same time, two former CRC stars — Dartmouth’s Madison Hughes and former Cal standout Danny Barrett — are making a solid impact on the Eagles 7s team.
Hughes and Barrett have contributed to the Eagles recent success in the HSBC World Series. In the last two competitions, the Eagles reached the knockout stage and gained valuable points in the standings. In Tokyo, Hughes’ second foray with the Eagles squad this season, the United States had its best finish of the year narrowly losing in the plate finals to Australia.
The following weekend, Barrett added a try while Hughes punched in a try and slotted two conversions in an opening day win over Samoa. Despite going 1-2 in pool play and 1-4 overall, the Eagles played tight games with New Zealand and South Africa showing marked improvements in their play.
While both players are new to the international experience, both are used to being in the spotlight. Playing in front a large crowd at the CRC and on live television has helped make the transition into international rugby smoother.
“The CRC was the biggest crowd I had ever played in front of. My success at the CRC gave me confidence to perform at a high level in front of a large audience,” Hughes told reporters. Barrett added, “It was a good learning platform to moving to play internationally, which most of the time has over 40,000 people attending. The CRC is a perfect stage for athletes to adjust to performing in front of a larger crowd.”
Both Barrett and Hughes bring different dynamics to the USA team and are the much the result of their rugby history.
Danny Barrett is a hard hitting, loose forward from a west coast school. One of the leading players on the Cal team that took home the 2013 CRC crown, Barrett very well could have been named the MVP. Scoring two first half try’s in last years final against Life, he propelled the Golden Bears to their first ever CRC title.
The youngest of three brothers to play for legendary coach Jack Clark, Barrett started playing rugby at the age of 12. He grew up playing for the renowned club San Francisco Golden Gate.
Although Barrett will not be on the squad that returns to defend its title at PPL Park this May 31st, the Golden Bears remain a strong squad anchored by Captain and 2013 MVP Seamus Kelley.
Hughes, on the contrary, stands at a mere 5’ 7” weighing 170lbs and is often one of the smallest players on the field. What he loses in size, however, is made up in quickness, speed, tenacity and smarts.
The Dartmouth star started his rugby career in 2001. The son of an English father and an American mother, the European blood comes out in both his accent and style of play. Wielding a mild British accent, Hughes has an excellent kicking ability and has added a solid chip and chase game to the Eagles arsenal.
Hughes developed his rugby skills while growing up in England. His technical superiority to many of his American counterparts is due in large part to his development in the European rugby system.
“In England almost everybody is required to play rugby. Everyone starts at a much younger age than in the states allowing them to develop their skills over a longer period of time.”
Hughes jumped onto the scene in 2013 scooping up the illustrious CRC MVP award as a freshman. Leading Dartmouth to their second of back-to-back titles, Hughes made a name for himself with his ability to score and create space for his Dartmouth teammates. Fresh off international experience, Hughes will come to the CRC with the hopes of avenging last year’s quarterfinal loss to the UCLA Bruins.
The 2014 CRC takes place on May 31st – June 2nd at PPL Park in Philadelphia. Tickets can be purchased at usacrcsevens.com.