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Sacred Heart Women Go Varsity

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Sacred Heart Women Go Varsity

The sport of women’s rugby has been elevated to varsity status at Sacred Heart University, as announced Wednesday by Executive Director of Athletics Bobby Valentine. The program will begin varsity competition in the Fall of 2015 and becomes the 32nd Division I varsity sport sponsored by the Pioneers.

“I am pleased to announce the elevation of women’s rugby to varsity status at Sacred Heart University,” said Valentine. “This will provide numerous additional opportunities for female student-athletes to experience competition at the Division I level. I could not be more excited for this new chapter in Pioneer athletics.”

Jeff Ward, the executive director of the National Collegiate Varsity Women’s Rugby Association (NCVWRA), announced that Sacred Heart has become the association’s ninth member. Formed this past September, the NCVWRA’s nine members are: Army, Bowdoin, Brown, Central Washington, Harvard, Norwich, Quinnipiac, Sacred Heart and West Chester. The association looks to serve as the primary point of contact with the NCAA, which classifies women’s rugby as an emerging sport, on issues related to intercollegiate women’s rugby. Membership in the NCVWRA is open to NCAA schools in all divisions who commit to sponsoring women’s rugby at the varsity level.

Women’s rugby currently competes at the club level at Sacred Heart. This season the squad captured the Central Division of the Tri-State Rugby Conference with a 3-0 record, defeating Fordham in the championship game, 53-0. That victory earned the team a berth in the NSCRO regional semifinal versus Franklin Pierce, putting it two wins from a Region 1 Championship and one of four berths in the National Championship, November 22-23rd in Cherry Hill, N.J.

Sacred Heart University, which has a rich history of athletic success, will conduct a national search for its first varsity women’s rugby head coach in the near future. Interested candidates should visit the NCAA Job Market or the Sacred Heart University website to apply for the position.

Sacred Heart fields 32 Division I varsity teams, including 18 women’s and 14 men’s programs and in 2013-14 academic year had six student-athletes earn All-America honors. Among New England private colleges, Sacred Heart University is one of only a small handful to offer such a diverse assortment of NCAA athletic programs. Sacred Heart competes in 22 sports in the Northeast Conference. SHU has won five NEC’s Commissioner Cup, which recognizes overall program excellence, in the past seven years. Sacred Heart has also won four consecutive NEC Building Communities awards for commitment to community service by NEC athletes.