U.S. captain Madison Hughes previews Collegiate Rugby Championship; TV schedule

Madison Hughes
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This weekend’s Collegiate Rugby Championship could be a springboard to the Olympics for the nation’s best sevens players.

Just ask the current captain of the U.S. national team, Madison Hughes, who starred in the CRC as a Dartmouth freshman in 2012, when the Big Green repeated as champion.

“The CRC played a big role in my development as a rugby player,” the London-born Hughes said while on a Manhattan media tour for Penn Mutual on Wednesday. “When I first got to college, the CRC was the pinnacle of college rugby, and it had just begun [in 2010]. A lot of my teammates were speaking about it, and then when I experienced it, I think it was really my first experience of a high-level rugby tournament.”

NBC, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra will have live coverage of the CRC from Philadelphia on Saturday (pool play) and Sunday (playoff rounds and championship):

DATE COVERAGE TIME (ET) NETWORK
Sat., June 4 Rugby Rising 1 p.m. NBCSN
  Pool Play 2-4 p.m. NBCSN, Live Extra
Pool Play 4-6 p.m. NBC, Live Extra
Sun., June 5 Rugby Rising (Encore) 1 p.m. NBCSN
  Playoff Rounds 2-4 p.m. NBCSN, Live Extra
Playoff Rounds 4-6 p.m. NBC, Live Extra
Wed., June 8 Pool Play* 7 p.m. CSN Philadelphia
Thurs., June 9 Pool Play* 7 p.m. CSN Philadelphia
Fri., June 10 Pool Play* 7 p.m. The Comcast Network
Pool Play* 9 p.m. The Comcast Network

*Encore presentation

After his freshman-year title, Hughes played two more CRCs with Dartmouth before focusing on his international career in his senior season. Now, Hughes is seen as one of the safest picks to be named to the first U.S. Olympic men’s rugby sevens team in Rio later this summer.

A few more of Hughes’ current teammates on rugby’s biggest global stage — the World Series — have CRC experience. The list includes Danny Barrett (University of California), Brett Thompson (Arizona) and Peter Tiberio (Arizona).

This weekend, several more Olympic hopefuls — for Tokyo 2020 — could establish themselves at the CRC.

Three-time reigning champion California will be favored for the team title, Hughes said.

“I’ve got to back my boys at Dartmouth and say that we’re going to try and regain the title,” he said. “Life [University] have been very good the last few years. Kutztown are always very good. University of Arizona have been very good as well.”

Hughes said to expect similar game play at the CRC as there will be in the Olympics, with perhaps one notable difference.

“The game’s not going to change, but the speed of the game might increase [in Rio],” he said. “Players are bigger, faster, stronger, just because you have that full-time environment where we’re training. You’ve also got a bit more tactical elements and a bit more cohesiveness among the teams. The ball will move a bit quicker in the Olympics, but it’s the same game.”

MORE: Ebner, Isles miss U.S. rugby roster for World Series finale

Ironman Kona World Championships return for first time in three years, live on Peacock

Ironman Kona World Championship
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The Ironman Kona World Championships return after a three-year hiatus with a new format, live on Peacock on Thursday and Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.

The Ironman, held annually in Hawaii since 1978, and in Kailua-Kona since 1981, was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The world championships made a one-time-only stop in St. George, Utah, on May 7 to make up for the 2021 cancellation. The winners were Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, the Tokyo Olympic triathlon champion, and Swiss Daniela Ryf, who bagged her fifth Ironman world title.

Both are entered in Kailua-Kona, where the races are now split between two days — Thursday for the women and Saturday for the men.

An Ironman includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon — totaling 140.6 miles of racing. It takes top triathletes eight hours to complete. Very arguably, it crowns the world’s fittest man and woman.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona, Thursday, 12 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Ryf, 35 and a 2008 and 2012 Olympian, can tie retired countrywoman Natascha Badmann for second place on the women’s list at six Ironman world titles. Only Zimbabwean-turned-American Paula Newby-Fraser has more with eight.

The field also includes German Anne Haug, the 2019 Kona champ and only woman other than Ryf to win since 2015. Brit Lucy Charles-Barclay, the Kona runner-up in 2017, 2018 and 2019, returns after missing the St. George event due to a stress fracture in her hip.

Blummenfelt, 28 and in his Kona debut, will try to become the youngest male champion in Kona since German Normann Stadler in 2005. His top challengers include countryman Gustav Iden, the two-time reigning Half Ironman world champion, and German Patrick Lange, the 2017 and 2018 Ironman Kona winner.

Also racing Saturday is Dallas Clark, a retired All-Pro NFL tight end with the Indianapolis Colts, and Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 champion who completed the 2011 Kona Ironman in 12 hours, 52 minutes, 40 seconds.

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Joan Benoit Samuelson, Olympic marathon champ in 1984, runs London Marathon at 65

Joan Benoit Samuelson
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Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first Olympic women’s marathon champion in 1984, ran her first 26.2-mile race in three years at Sunday’s London Marathon and won her age group.

Benoit Samuelson, 65, clocked 3 hours, 20 minutes, 20 seconds to top the women’s 65-69 age group by 7 minutes, 52 seconds. She took pleasure in being joined in the race by daughter Abby, who crossed in 2:58:19.

“She may have beaten me with my replacement knee, but everybody said I wouldn’t do it! I will never say never,” Benoit Samuelson said, according to race organizers. “I am a grandmother now to Charlotte, and it’s my goal to run 5K with her.”

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Benoit Samuelson raced the 1987 Boston Marathon while three months pregnant with Abby. Before that, she won the first Olympic women’s marathon at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, plus the Boston Marathon in 1979 and 1983 and the Chicago Marathon in 1985.

Her personal best — 2:21:21 — still holds up. She ranks sixth in U.S. women’s history.

Benoit Samuelson plans to race the Tokyo Marathon to complete her set of doing all six annual World Marathon Majors. The others are Berlin, Boston, Chicago and New York City.

“I’m happy to finish this race and make it to Tokyo, but I did it today on a wing and a prayer,” she said, according to organizers. “I’m blessed to have longevity in this sport. It doesn’t owe me anything, but I feel I owe my sport.”

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