Most ath­letes dream of shining in the national spotlight—of sinking buzzer-​​beating shots, scoring game-​​winning goals, or hit­ting walk-​​off home runs.

For players on the North­eastern Uni­ver­sity men’s rugby club, that dream could soon become a reality.

The Huskies are one of 20 teams that have been selected to par­tic­i­pate in the 2013 USA Sevens Col­le­giate Rugby Cham­pi­onship, which will be held on June 1–2 in Philadel­phia and nation­ally tele­vised on NBC Sports.

The teams have been divided into five pools of four; the winner of each pool and the three best second-​​place teams will advance to the quar­ter­final round. Northeastern’s pool com­prises Notre Dame, North Car­olina State, and Penn State, whom the Huskies will play first on Friday at 7:20 p.m.

First-​​year head coach Jamie Green, who played col­le­giate rugby at the Uni­ver­sity of Wales, believes in the club’s chances of advancing past pool play. For evi­dence, he cited the team’s impres­sive per­for­mance in the USA Rugby 7s Col­le­giate National Cham­pi­onships last fall in which the Huskies won two of their first three matches.

We’re scrappy, hungry for suc­cess, and willing to learn,” Green said. “We have the poten­tial to go all the way.”

Club cap­tain Ty Taylor agreed with his coach’s assess­ment, saying, “We’re under­dogs, but we expect to finish in the top of our group.”

Ath­letics Director Peter Roby worked to secure Northeastern’s spot in the pres­ti­gious tour­na­ment, speaking with rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the CRC and writing them a letter reit­er­ating his sup­port for the club.

We’re thrilled to be com­peting in such an exciting event on the national stage,” he said.

rugby_300In prepa­ra­tion for the tour­na­ment, every player on the Huskies has been working out at Reebok CrossFit Back Bay, which is owned by former North­eastern foot­ball player Joshua Plosker. The workout rou­tine includes Olympic lifts such as squats and cleans and is designed to increase player speed and strength, both of which figure promi­nently in the fast-​​paced and phys­ical nature of rugby sevens.

According to Green and Taylor, the group work­outs speak to the team’s unity. “We play as one,” Taylor explained.

Nick­named the Mad­dogs, the club has a rabid fol­lowing of North­eastern alumni like Anthony Kalai­jakis, who will dis­cuss the gen­esis of the pro­gram at a pregame event for approx­i­mately 50 erst­while rug­gers who plan on attending the tour­na­ment. He cofounded the club in 1984 and is an active member of Friends of North­eastern Uni­ver­sity Rugby, a non­profit alumni orga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cated to raising the club’s national pro­file through fundraising and com­mu­nity outreach.

The team is very tal­ented and well coached,” Kalai­jakis said of the cur­rent band of rug­gers. “The Mad­dogs always rise to the occa­sion and I’m sure they will make us proud.”

J.P. Bonin played for the club from 1989–1994 and cur­rently serves on the board of its alumni organization.

I think being invited to this tour­na­ment is the best thing that has hap­pened to North­eastern rugby in a long time,” he said. “It is the crème de la crème of expo­sure and recog­ni­tion for North­eastern and col­le­giate rugby.”