College rugby

College rugby

Rugby is played throughout universities in the United States of America.

In the United States, college rugby is governed by (in descending order of authority): the International Rugby Board, USA Rugby, territorial unions and local area unions (e.g., NERFU). At present, the NCAA has no authority over college rugby. Often called a club sport, each individual team is administered by either the athletic department or the student club department.

The sport includes a national championship competition (since 1980) as well as other hotly contested trophies such as the World Cup between the University of California, Berkeley and the University of British Columbia (Canada),[1] the Wasatch Cup between BYU and Utah,[2] the University Cup between Texas A&M and Texas,[3] and the Common Wealth Shield between Virginia and Virginia Tech.[4]

With the addition of Rugby 7s to the 2016 Olympic games, the collegiate ranks expanded into the 7s game. The premiere collegiate 7s competition is the Collegiate Rugby Championship (CRC). The CRC was first held in Columbus, OH in June 2010 at the Columbus Crew Stadium. That inaugural event was also televised by NBC and NBC Universal. The result was high ratings leading to a second tournament in 2011 to also be covered by NBC. However, the attendance figures were low in Columbus and the venue was moved to Philadelphia to be hosted at PPL Park.

2011 saw the largest change to the collegiate rugby structure since the 1980 inception of the national championship. The College Premier Division (CPD) was created with the intention of refining topflight collegiate rugby. To do so 31 schools joined together to form a new division of American rugby.[5]

In 2011, USA Rugby continued to urge college rugby programs to adopt new conference structures similar to the conferences used by their other athletic programs. The highest profile example was the formation of the Ivy League Rugby Conference in 2010. This effort has trickled down to Division II, and is expected to impact Division III in 2012. This move signals a shift away from the LAUs and TUs as the governing bodies for regional college rugby.



A BCRFC match at Boston College

American college rugby is governed by the International Rugby Board, USA Rugby, and the respective territorial and local area unions.

Local area unions usually set up "league" matches in the primary season, while the teams set up their own "friendly" matches in the secondary season. In the northeast, midatlantic and midwest, the league season is played in the fall; while in the south, northwest and pacific regions, the spring is the primary season.

USA Rugby maintains strict eligibility guidelines, which are administered at the local level by the local area unions. College players generally have 5 years of rugby eligibility from the time they first enter college, but exceptions can be made for military service, or pregnancy.

On-field disciplinary issues are generally handled by the local area unions, while off-field disciplinary issues are governed by the academic institution and the local area union.

Liability is mitigated by the CIPP insurance program. This program provides liability insurance to all rugby teams and players in exchange for an annual dues payment (currently $30/year). This policy provides the player, the team, its administrators and pitch hosts with liability coverage in the event of any injury. The program is administered by USA Rugby.

Promotion and Relegation

Division and conference placement is primarily based on a rugby club's success from the previous year. Each Local Area Union (LAU) has its own rules of governance, but in most cases, the team that wins its division or conference has the right to advance to the next highest division or conference. Conversely, the club with the least success that year might be relegated to competing in the next lowest division or conference. Because a move to a different division or conference would have an impact on travel arrangements, some college clubs might resist promotion or relegation for budgetary reasons.

Some winning clubs choose not to exercise this right to advance, instead preferring to stay in the lower club division, either because they are a very small college with a small rugby budget, or because they wish to remain competitive against lesser opponents. For example, Furman University (an NCAA Division I institution) is a perennial Division III rugby powerhouse, yet they have consistently declined promotion to Division II. Similarly, Plymouth State University declined promotion to D2 despite winning the 2008 D3 NSCRO National championship.

Other clubs are offered promotion, despite not winning their conference, based upon their strength of play. For example, Iowa State Men's Club was allowed to move up to D1 from D2 because they had performed so well in the 2006 Big 12 tournament, losing to fifth ranked Texas A&M in overtime after winning the competition 2 previously (while being the only D2 team competing). Southern Connecticut State University was moved from D3 to D2 despite losing to Salve Regina University 21-20 in the 2008 NERFU College Men's Division III Rugby Tournament. See also Promotion and relegation.

A 2008 Penn State Lady Ruggers match vs the West Chester University of Pennsylvania Rams. Nichole Lopes '07 '09 with the ball for Penn State

Women's College Rugby: The NCAA Emerging Sport

The National Collegiate Athletic Association identified women's rugby as an "Emerging Sport" in 2002. An "Emerging Sport", a category that includes sand volleyball and equestrian, must gain championship status (minimum 40 varsity NCAA programs for individual sports and 28 Division III varsity programs for team sports) within 10 years or show steady progress toward that goal to remain on the list.[6] Until then, it is under the auspices of the NCAA and its respective institutions. With only 5 teams, Emerging Sport status in any sport allows for competition to include club teams to satisfy the minimum number of competitions bylaw established by the NCAA.

There are currently 5 varsity women's rugby programs: Quinnipiac University, Eastern Illinois University: (Division 1); West Chester University (Division 1); and Bowdoin College, and Norwich University (Division 3).[7]

Collegiate Rugby Championship Invitational Sevens




U.S. National Collegiate Club Rugby championships

College Premier Division

Division 1


See footnote[14]
National Championship as named by Sports Illustrated:

Official Championship:
  • 1980 – California 15, Air Force 9
  • 1981 – California 6, Harvard 3 (a.e.t.)
  • 1982 – California 15, Life College 14
  • 1983 – California 13, Air Force 3
  • 1984 – Harvard 12, Colorado 4
  • 1985 – California 31, Maryland 6
  • 1986 – California 6, Dartmouth 4
  • 1987 – San Diego State 10, Air Force 9
  • 1988 – California 9, Dartmouth 3
  • 1989 – Air Force 25, Penn State 7
  • 1990 – Air Force 18, Army 12
  • 1991 – California 20, Army 14
  • 1992 – California 27, Army 17
  • 1993 – California 36, Air Force 6
  • 1994 – California 27, Navy 13
  • 1995 – California 48, Air Force 16
  • 1996 – California 47, Penn State 6
  • 1997 – California 41, Penn State 15
  • 1998 – California 34 Stanford 15
  • 1999 – California 36 Penn State 5
  • 2000 – California 62 Wyoming 16
  • 2001 – California 86 Penn State 11
  • 2002 – California 43 Utah 22
  • 2003 – Air Force 45 Harvard 37
  • 2004 – California 46 Cal Poly 24
  • 2005 – California 44, Utah 7
  • 2006 – California 29, BYU 26
  • 2007 – California 37, BYU 7
  • 2008 – California 59, BYU 7
  • 2009 – BYU 25, California 22
  • 2010 – California 19, BYU 7
  • 2011 – Davenport 38, UCSB 19


See footnote[17]

  • 1991 – Air Force, runner-up Boston College
  • 1992 – Boston College, runner-up Connecticut
  • 1993 – Connecticut, runner-up Air Force
  • 1994 – Air Force, runner-up Boston College
  • 1995 – Princeton, runner-up Penn State
  • 1996 – Princeton, runner-up Penn State
  • 1997 – Penn State, runner-up Radcliffe
  • 1998 – Radcliffe, runner-up Penn State
  • 1999 – Stanford, runner-up Princeton
  • 2000 – Penn State, runner-up Princeton
  • 2001 – Chico State, runner-up Penn State

Division 2



  • 2000 - Plymouth State, runner-up East Stroudsburg
  • 2001 - Northern Iowa, runner-up Nevada-Reno
  • 2002 - Northern Iowa, runner-up Minnesota
  • 2003 - Dayton, runner-up Northern Iowa
  • 2004 - Temple, runner-up Providence
  • 2005 - Providence, runner-up Temple
  • 2006 - UC Santa Cruz 22, Plymouth State 10
  • 2007 - Iowa State 26, UC Santa Cruz 19
  • 2008 - Shippensburg 47, Minnesota-Duluth 0
  • 2009 - Shippensburg 29, Stonehill 5
  • 2010 - Washington State 37, Temple 0
  • 2011 - Radcliffe 22, Notre Dame 10[20]

Division III - Governed by the National Small College Rugby Organization (NSCRO)

The National Small College Rugby Organization was created to give a competitive outlet to small colleges which would not otherwise have an opportunity to compete on a national stage. Each year, the NSCRO hosts rugby tournaments for Division III Men's and Women's college teams, and for Division IV Women's college teams.



2002-3 - Champion: College of New Jersey
Runner Up: University of Maine

2003-4 - Champion: Fordham University
Runner Up: Susquehanna University

2004-5 - Champion: Castleton State College
Runner Up: Susquehanna University

2005-6 - Champion: Babson University
Runner Up: Ursinus College

2006-7 (Last year the event was held in the Spring) - Champion: Stonehill College
Runner Up: Pennsylvania University

2007 (Fall) - Champion: Stonehill College
Runner Up: Marist College

2008 - Champion: Bryant University
Runner-Up: Gettysburg College

2009 - Champion: MIT
Runner-Up: East Stroudsburg University

2010 - Champion: Bentley University [23]
Runner-Up: Drexel University

Division IV - Governed by National Small College Rugby Organization

Women's Only

2006 - Champion: University of Rhode Island
Runner Up: Ursinus College

2007 - Champion: Roger Williams University
Runner Up: Gettysburg College

2008 - Champion: Holy Cross College
Runner Up: Albright College

2009 - Champion: Drexel University
Runner-Up: Wentworth Institute of Technology

2010 - Champion: Lock Haven University [23]
Runner-Up: Mount Holyoke College

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Emerging Sports for Women". NCAA. Retrieved 1 September 2011. 
  7. ^ name='usarugby'
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ Men's National Collegiate Champions: D I (1980-present). eRugbyNews. Retrieved 2010-02-06.
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ Women's National Collegiate Champions: D I (1991-present). eRugbyNews. Retrieved 2010-02-06.
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ a b "National Small College Rugby Organization: Brackets & Results". Retrieved 2011-06-08. 

External links

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