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Eight Women D1 Conferences Move En Masse To CRAA

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Eight Women D1 Conferences Move En Masse To CRAA

UC Davis and University of Virginia from 2016. Austin Brewin photo.

Eight women's D1 college conferences have voted unanimously to united as one organization, remain directly linked with USA Rugby, and pursue a strategic partnership with the Collegiate Rugby Association of America.

The CRAA runs D1A men's rugby and is expected to announce that it is also overseeing D1 Elite women. The en-masse move of the women's D1 conferences drastically increases the size and scope of CRAA.

(One women's D1 conference, the Midwest, had already announced it is joining NCR's open division, and did opted not to vote as a result.)

This is the resolution voted on by the eight Women's D1 Conferences:

1.  The Women's Collegiate D1 Conferences will move forward together as a group to create the Women's Collegiate D1 Division.

2.  The conferences and teams of the Women's Collegiate D1 Division will remain members of USA Rugby.

3.  The Women's Collegiate D1 Division will seek to strategically partner with CRAA for additional services that will benefit the division, and may seek out other strategic partnerships in the future.

4.  The Women's D1 Division will embrace the broad goal of partnering with other Women's rugby divisions for the development and growth of the Women's game.

5.  The Women's D1 Division will accommodate current conference playing and championship seasons, in concert with the academic calendars of its members' teams.


The group represents 67 teams over eight conferences (plus two teams who are independents).

Big 10 (8 teams, playing 15s in the fall):  
Purdue University, Ohio State University*, Penn State University, University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Indiana University,  Davenport University*, Notre Dame University  
*indicates a team that was added on a limited basis fall '19 with the intention of adding them as a full time member fall '20

Blue Ridge (formerly Mason-Dixon, 8 teams, playing 15s in the spring):
James Madison University, University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, University of North Carolina, North Carolina State University, University of South Carolina, Clemson University, East Carolina University

Florida (4 teams, playing 15s in the spring):
University of Central Florida, University of Florida, Florida State University, University of South Florida

Northeast (6 teams, playing 15s in the fall):
Boston College, Boston University, Northeastern University, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, University of Connecticut, University of Rhode Island

Pacific Desert (8 teams, playing 15s in the spring):
University of California San Diego, University of California, Los Angeles, University of California Santa Barbara, California State University Northridge, Arizona State University, University of Arizona, Grand Canyon University, Brigham Young University

Pacific Mountain (10 teams, playing 15s in the spring):
University of Washington, Washington State, University, Western Washington University, University of Oregon, Oregon State University, Stanford University; University of California, Berkeley; University of California, Davis, Chico State University, Fresno State University

Rocky Mountain (10 teams, playing 15s in the fall):
U.S. Air Force Academy, Boise State University, Colorado State University, University of Colorado Boulder, Montana State University, University of New Mexico, University of Wyoming, Utah State University, Utah Valley University, Weber State University (pending admittance fall 2020)

Texas (11 teams (to be confirmed), playing 15s in the fall):
University of Texas, Texas Tech University, Texas A & M University, Sam Houston State, Angelo State, LeTourneau University (7s only), Texas State University, University of Houston (7s only), University of North Texas, University of Oklahoma, University of Texas at San Antonio

(Note we have updated the list of teams in this conference as they actually will have 11 teams in the conference, not four as reported earlier.)

Independents (2 teams, playing 15s in the fall):
U.S. Naval Academy, Princeton University

“The Pacific Mountain Rugby Conference is very excited to be joining the other Women's Collegiate D1 Rugby Conferences to create a unified division," said Ellen Owens Pacific Mountain Rugby Conference Commissioner & President. "The revitalized division will be able to organize based on the specific needs of our conferences and universities to elevate the profile of our game and improve the rugby experience for all our student athletes.

"I am very impressed with the level of clear-sightedness and professionalism with which the Women's Collegiate D1 Rugby Conferences approached this process.  We had a short time frame within which to act, but it was not done hastily.”

Olivia Benzan-Daniel, Rugby Northeast Vice Commissioner, added that joining CRAA will open up opportunities for broadcast and other benefits.

"Division I women are making the right move," said Benzan-Daniel. "The CRAA has a lot of benefits to its membership, but I'm confident in these decisions because we are making them as a collective. It's easy for seasonality and geography to keep us apart, but our commitment to our individual conferences and the women's rugby landscape as a whole will put us on a path for success." 

CRAA President Paul Keeler has been working with the Women's D1 conferences and has said repeatedly that the CRAA has a flexible approach to helping divisions run their competitions.

“We are excited to work with the Women’s D1," Keeler said. "The women’s game is uniquely situated to grow our sport and the synergies we can create are a fantastic opportunity for the advancement of rugby.”

“It’s great to see college conferences and organizations working together to navigate this period of transition," added Johnathan Atkeison, who oversees the college game for USA Rugby. "Strategic partnerships like this are going to drive the next phase of development in college rugby."

This move makes it even clearer that college rugby will be run mostly by CRAA and NCR, with NCR working mostly with D2 and small colleges, and CRAA working mostly with D1 and higher (all with some exceptions). CRAA, however, has stated that it supports a slightly different model and being a full member of USA Rugby. NCR hasn't completely divorced itself from USA Rugby, but has taken on much more of the membership and insurance tasks.