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NBC, Cable Siblings Gear up for Rugby Action

NBC and its sporting siblings are joining forces for a full slate of rugby action June 4-5, airing the USA 7s Collegiate Rugby Championship on the broadcast network and on Universal Sports and Versus. The action kicks off on Universal June 4 at noon, and concludes on NBC June 5 from 4-6 p.m.

The rugby competition, which features the game's lightning-fast 7-per-side version, as opposed to the more crowded 15-per-side standard game, takes place over the weekend in Philadelphia. The nation's top 16 college teams will compete, including Ohio State, Dartmouth, University of Oklahoma, University of Utah and Cal-Berkeley; the latter two competed in last year's final, with Utah claiming the national championship.

"These dynamic squads will add competitive and national weight to the existing teams in the field," said Dan Lyle, Collegiate Rugby Championship tournament director.

Last year's competition on NBC was viewed by former football standout Miles Craigwell. After failing to stick with an NFL team, Craigwell was so impressed with the rugby action on TV that he gave the sport a try--and now plays for the U.S. national 7s team.

NBC and Universal Sports became corporate siblings with Versus after the NBC Universal-Comcast merger.

NBC has shown a considerable commitment to rugby. Last year, it announced that the broadcast network and Universal Sports, a multicast channel, will air the 2011 Rugby World Cup from New Zealand and the 2015 affair from England.

Rugby's 2007 World Cup drew an estimated 4.2 billion viewers worldwide. The 2011 competition begins September 9. The U.S. faces Ireland September 11.