While the Midshipmen football team has run off an impressive 10 straight victories against Army, the Navy rugby squad hasn't been as fortunate. It has dropped three straight to the Black Knights, including a 33-31 heartbreaker at home in April.
The Army game is the second of three Navy will play on Saturday in hopes of qualifying for the championship bracket on Sunday, and head coach Mike Flanagan says that it can be a struggle to make sure his guys pace themselves.
"It's a double-edged sword," Flanagan said. "It has to be viewed as just another game, because it will be in pool play, but it's still Army. So I guess we have to treat it special, but not too special."
Making things more difficult is the fact that Army made it to the title game last season before falling to Dartmouth. According to Navy junior captain Seamus Siefring, there isn't much his coach could do to lessen the hype.
"He tries to keep us calm, and he does a good job at it," Siefring said. "But he knows that as soon as we walk on that field, there is a different energy to that game, a certain electricity. It's a battle like no other."
This Navy squad is young, but big and physical. It has no seniors, and Siefring is the lone junior, but he says that shouldn't keep the Midshipmen from being a contender.
"We just have to keep our heads down and play Navy rugby," Siefring said. "It is going to be a big crowd and loud, but we have some guys that can run you over."
Freshman Ron Helms, despite having only one contest against Army under his belt, offered his own take on the heralded feud.
"I think it's a unique rivalry, because we have a different lifestyle than most college students," Helms said. "They are our true equals, because of the lives we live and where we are going after school. I think it is a test of how good you are against those that are in the same situation."
Joining Army and Navy in Pool D is a good Notre Dame team and perennial powerhouse California. Getting prematurely swept up in the latest installment of the Army-Navy clash could prove fatal for the Midshipmen.
"You can't take any of those guys lightly," Flanagan said. "You can't concentrate on [Army] and forget about the other two or it will burn you."
AT A GLANCE
What: The USA Sevens Collegiate Rugby Championship is at PPL Park in Chester this weekend. This is the second consecutive year PPL Park has hosted the 3-year-old tournament. A high school tourney will be held for both boys' and girls' teams.
When: There are 24 matches on Saturday and 15 on Sunday, culminating with the championship final at 5:20 p.m. Matches generally take about 17 to 21 minutes to complete. Saturday's play starts at 9 a.m. when Penn State takes on Life University. Sunday's first match, a championship quarterfinal, is at 9:50 a.m.
Who: The 16 men's teams are divided into four pools of four. Temple is in Pool A, along with Life, Penn State and Wisconsin.
Format: Saturday is pool play, in which each team plays the other three in its pool: three points for win, one for draw, no points for a loss. The top eight teams will compete in the championship bracket on Sunday, while the remaining teams go into the challenger's consolation bracket. From there, it is single elimination.
About Temple: The Owls' first match is at 9:11 a.m. Saturday against Wisconsin. They were winless last year.
High school: 16 boys' teams and eight girls' teams will compete on Friday at Drexel's Vidas Athletic Complex from 1-5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday between the college games at PPL Park. Players will be able to showcase their skills in front of college coaches with the winners capturing the USA Sevens HSRC Cup. Local teams are Malvern Prep, St. Joseph's Prep, St. Augustine Prep (N.J.) and Downington RFC boys and Doylestown RFC girls.
Why "sevens"? There are seven players on the field per side, eight fewer than in traditional rugby.
Tickets: Reserved tickets for single day are $53, with weekend passes costing $93. Those seats are midfield with in-seat food and beverage service. General admission seating is $33 for 1 day and $43 for both days ($18 and $23, respectively, for kids 14 and under). A 1-day family four pack is also available for a rate of $120.
Tickets: Available at PPL Park box office, by calling 800-298-4200 or at ComcastTIX.com. You can also visit the event site at USASevensCRC.com.
Parking: Around the stadium - including boat slips - is $15. There is an off-site lot at 4th and Edwards charging $15. Tailgating is allowed but space will be limited.
Weather: Temperatures are expected to range from the mid-60s to the mid-70s with a chance of showers on Saturday.
Party on: Starting both days at 9 a.m. will be a fan festival that includes live music, food, the Foster's International Beer Garden, interactive sports clinics and family activities. As part of the fan festival, concerts commence at 2 p.m. both days, with Saturday featuring 12 Stones and Yellowcard and Sunday featuring 12 Stones and Breathe Carolina.
SCRUM, RUCK AND OTHER FUN STUFF
* Each match consists of two 7-minute halves. Traditional rugby has 40-minute halves. The object, to advance the ball down the field to score while the other team does just about everything it can to stop you, is the same. Halftime is 2 minutes. The championship match is 10 minutes per half. The rules for Sevens are exactly the same as 15 a side.
* The ultimate destination is the "Tryzone,'' which is the football equivalent of the end zone. A rugby score is worth five points and known as a "try." The subsequent conversion kick is worth two points. There's a penalty kick nuance that is worth three points.
* The ball may be passed backward or laterally, but never forward. The three football players you are bound to think of are Kevin Moen, who scored the touchdown after five laterals as Cal beat Stanford in 1982; and Kevin Dyson and Frank Wycheck (Archbishop Ryan High), who teamed up for the Music City Miracle when the Tennessee Titans stunned the Buffalo Bills in an NFL playoff game following the 1999 season.
* There's no blocking in rugby.
* The field is 110 yards long and about 77 yards wide.
* Scrum: When teams lock together in a huddle following a penalty. The purpose is to kick the ball back to teammates in order to gain possession. Think of a hockey faceoff without sticks, and with nearly every player actively involved.
* Ruck: Follows when a player is tackled and there's a fight for possession. Also could follow last call at numerous watering holes around the area, but that's a story for another time.
* Line-out: Occurs when the ball goes out of bounds and, according to Rugby Sevens' website, "teams lift a player in the air who catches the ball to gain possession" - think a combination of a jump ball and a Hail Mary.
2:30-4:30 p.m.: NBC Sports Network
4:30-6 p.m.: NBC
2-4 p.m.: NBC Sports Network
4-6 p.m.: NBC