DIAA Spring Final This Weekend
DIAA Spring Final This Weekend
What is DIAA?
That might, in fact, be the important question. For those following college rugby around the country, it can be confusing as to what DIA, DIAA, and Varsity Cup is all about.
This weekend, the DIAA spring final (now there’s a statement that means almost nothing to most people) will be held, with Florida State playing UC Davis, and that’s going to be a fun game to track. But what does it mean?
Here’s what it should mean:
A DIAA rugby team is from a college that normally competes in DI sports, but does not have a varsity or athletic-department-run rugby program. There are exceptions to that, but that should be DIAA. A program that fits into that category can opt to play DIA, but it’s their decision.
By that definition, the team waiting for the winner of Florida State and UC Davis, Notre Dame College, shouldn’t be DIAA; they should be DIA. Don’t blame the Falcons. They wanted to be DIA this past season and didn’t get the votes. That should be rectified next season.
Exceptions are all around us, of course. We at Goff Rugby Report just wrote a story about DIA playoff teams that are club teams with no support from their athletic departments or no additional funding. Those teams chose to play up because they have developed a rugby tradition. We see that all over. Another exception would be a varsity program from a smaller-sized college, or one from a college that is just starting its varsity program (think Lindenwood-Belleville). Those programs need some time (as Davenport and Lindenwood-St. Charles did) to build something.
But the teams playing this weekend fit the definition perfectly. Despite being two-time DIAA champions, the UC Davis Aggies rugby team doesn’t get a lot of additional support from the school (and we’re not saying they should). It’s a student-run club team with very good athletes, a long rugby tradition that goes back 100 years, and some strong and dedicated coaching.
The Aggies benefit from being a strong school located in a hotbed of rugby, so while they don’t recruit or anything like that, they have a lot of HS players nearby who know about them.
Florida State has been up and down within college rugby. They benefit from being in a competitive league in the SIRC South, and also from some settling in their coaching situation. With that, the growing Argentinean-American community in Florida is starting to produce young rugby players who play a different style than much of the rest of the country. They also, like Davis, have benefited from an influx of high school talent.
Up there in Tallahassee, they’re a little isolated, which can mean non-conference games are tough to schedule, but what they do have is a group of dedicated and hard-working players who play team defense and a good goalkicker.
That’s what the story will be in this spring final - two teams that play tough, kick goals, know how to tackle, and work hard. It’s the best of what club sports is on campus in this country, and they’re true DIAA.
Path to the Spring Final
UC Davis 46 CSULB 21
Tries: Bradley Maples 2, Siniora Tarik, William Johnston, Jacob Wright, Ari Wargon, Maverick Bellard
Convs: Joshua Farnsworth 4
Pens: Joshua Farnsworth
Florida State 30 North Texas 28
Tries: Jordan Lupton 2, Davis Alecea, Alex Ruiz
Convs: Alex Ruiz, Andrew Kasper
Pens: Joe McChrystal, Alex Ruiz
UC Davis 26 Grand Canyon University 17
Tries: Dominic Burke, Tarik Siniora, Bradley Maples
Convs: Josh Farnsworth
Pens: Josh Farnsworth 3
Florida State 38 Missouri 0
Tries: Cameron Chadsey, Alex Ruiz 2, Kody Boswell, Aaron Mazyck, Peter Kim
Convs: Alex Ruiz 2, Arturo San Segundo 2