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Arizona Addition Big News as DIA Launches Season

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Arizona Addition Big News as DIA Launches Season

USA Rugby announced the 36 teams that will compete in DIA rugby this year, and the list includes the Big Ten (10 teams), Rugby East (seven teams), Mid-South (three teams), West (five), California (five), and Red River (six).

If you’re good at math you’ll see that those numbers total 35, not 36, and that’s because the University of Arizona will be a stand-alone independent. The Wildcats will make the DIA playoffs if they post a good enough record in their regular games, and if they are ranked high enough.

Arizona plays in the Pac Conference with Oregon State, and with four teams that will eschew USA Rugby’s playoffs to play in the Varsity Cup (Cal, UCLA, Arizona State, and Utah). DIA Commissioner Kevin Battle contacted Arizona Head Coach Sean Duffy to discuss the idea of the Wildcats shooting for a DIA playoff spot.

At the same time, the University administration had been monitoring the rugby playoffs, and were asking questions about what level the team plays at compered to other teams. When told that the St. Mary’s v Life game was DIA, and Arizona had played in the DIAA final, the administration told Duffy they wanted the Wildcats to look into moving up.
In the past, USA Rugby had required that an entire conference be part of DIA for any team to make the DIA post-season. But that view has been put aside in favor of giving teams that want to shoot for a national title the chance.

“Kevin Battle really worked hard to make this happen,” said Duffy. “We are able to stay in the Pac Conference, and what’s key is that our games in the conference will be considered qualifying games when ranking us for DIA. We will try to get as many other DIA opponents as we can. What this does is, it makes every game count. In order for u to be in the DIA playoffs, we have to show we’re good enough, in every game.”

The Wildcats will play Arizona State and New Mexico in the fall, and along with their five Pac Conference fixtures in the spring, they are expected to play a few non-conference matches against DIA opponents. In addition, they have an annual game against Varsity Cup-bound Notre Dame, meaning they will play five of the 14 Varsity Cup teams.

Duffy said the chance to play for a national championship is huge for his program.

"This is a great day for Arizona Rugby" said Duffy, "we are thrilled to be promoted to Division 1-A while also maintaining our strong support for the PAC Rugby conference and look forward to participating in both this upcoming season."