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Entire Nation Of College Rugby Looking For A Home

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Entire Nation Of College Rugby Looking For A Home

Alex Goff artwork depicting the American collegiate rugby world as a bunch of lifeboats rescuing people from a ship in peril.

College rugby right now seems to be a little like a group of lifeboats circling a foundering ship—you wonder who's going to pick up whom, who will strike on for shore on their own, and will that foundering ship actually get back afloat?

As we spelled out in a recent article, there are several collegiate organizations looking to operate the collegiate game, but there are also teams and conferences still unattached to any specific organization.

This Is USCRO; Movement Afoot For Additional College Group

Here is how things look at the moment, and we answer one or two key questions as well:

Small College Teams, Men and Women

All are members of NSCRO, and while NSCRO is changing its name in NCRO, it is handling its own membership and insurance. Key note here—we at GRR don't think that USA Rugby and NSCRO are in a fight. Eventually, even as NSCRO operates its own membership and insurance, it will have to work with USA Rugby in some form or other (possibly sending USA Rugby a flat dues fee as a sanctioned entity).

The key is, it's unlikely anything changes for NSCRO teams. There's a bit of a potential complication if an NSCRO team plays a team from another group, but that is a small bump in the road that various organizations should be able to figure out.

Women D2

Right now the D2 women are all in the water swimming around. The conferences are coming together as a unit, but they have not selected a leadership group per se, and they have not decided what organization to join.

Women NCAA Teams

There's already an organization for teams under NCAA, and that's NIRA. Nothing changes for them.

Men D2

A couple of conferences have already announced that they have signed on with NSCRO, and it's expected that more will swim over to the NSCRO lifeboat over the coming days and weeks. The Great Midwest and Cardinals conferences have made their announcements, but we still haven't heard from Rugby Northeast, Great Lakes, Tri-State, Northern Lights, Rocky Mountain, NEWCRC, MARC, South, and Gateway.

The SCRC D2 league might join even if the SCRC D1AA league goes somewhere else. MARC runs an NSCRO league and a D2 and a D1AA league. They might split up, too.

Women D1 Elite

This is a small group (Central Washington, LIfe, Lindenwood, and Penn State) and pretty settled in working with College Rugby Association of America.

Men D1A

That's the central group in the CRAA. However, there are some changes in the list of teams. The Liberty Conference teams will most likely go somewhere else, and a few teams will also move—Mary Washington is back in the Chesapeake Conference in D1AA, and Clemson is with the SCRC in D1AA. So we're looking at a division that might be 30% smaller.

Women D1

The Women D1 conferences still have to find a home. Right now they are in discussions as to what to do and the one key takeaway we have from the people we have talked to is that there is a commitment for everyone to be on the same page. The Women D1 conferences will likely decide en masse what governance organization to join. 

They are certainly more unified than ...

Men D1AA

This is a group that's under an enormous amount of flux. The conferences have met and discussed how to handle their future. Basically the conferences want to act as a group, and while there are some issues to iron out (stay with the fall-spring playoff split or ditch it), it seems like most of the conferences—MAC, Florida, SCRC, Lonestar, Pac West, NCRC, Heart of America—are on board.

But that's not everyone. The MARC (Mid-Atlantic) handles NSCRO and D2 leagues as well. So there's some thought that the MARC might join in with NSCRO because their NSCRO and D2 leagues would be there. But the SCRC is probably going to make the opposite choice, working with NSCRO for the SCRC D2, and joining the same group as the rest of the D1AA conference.

The Ivy League looks to possibly be thinking of joining USCRO, because geographically they fit with who is forming that organization (it's mostly Northeast teams).

And finally there's the Chesapeake. According to various sources, most D1AA conferences feel strongly that it is a division for non-varsity men's club teams. The Chesapeake will have four varsity teams for the 2020-2021 season, and if they join in with the rest of the D1AA teams, there will be some resistance to those varsity teams playing in the playoffs.

But the Chesapeake Conference isn't just going to accept that plan and tell half their members they won't be in the playoffs.

Everyone Has To Find A Home

This all is changing very quickly. But what seems to be clear is that you can't have a conference operating on its own, paying dues directly to USA Rugby, and running its own affairs. Such an organization will have to form a 5012c3 or something similar—a group that handles money, disciplinary, and eligibility.

The good news is, for the conferences, there's still time.