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GRR D1A Rankings 2023-24 Week 22

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GRR D1A Rankings 2023-24 Week 22

Life University vs Mary Washington from the fall. Photo David Hughes photo.

The #1 team, Navy, lost over the weekend.

So this week's question is: who should be #1 now?

Let's look at the candidates:

Navy: Remember, losing to Cal doesn't negate their body of work. The Midshipmen ran the table in Rugby East, beating Life and Notre Dame College in the process, and also beat Army (who, you'll remember, beat Army last week). Does one loss knock them off? Well it was a 23-point loss, and to a team that was ranked #9 by GRR (#7 by D1A). 

Cal: Beat the #1 team. That's pretty compelling. But Cal has also lost to BYU and Army. So it's not like they had a perfect record and we were just waiting for them to beat a highly-ranked team.

Life: Lost to Navy in the fall but have beaten Army, Lindenwood, and Arkansas State. Navy is the only loss Life has endured and that score was 20-14. Absolutely you can look at the overall body of work and slide aside a six-point loss. Life's drawback is they've only played nine games. Navy has played 14. Cal has played 12. Saint Mary's has played 11. Lindenwood has played 13. But every single game (bar one) played by Life was against ranked-level opposition.

(Ranked-level means ranked in our D1A Top 25, our NCR D1 Top 20, or are a strong non-US collegiate opponent). So ranked-level opponents: Life 7, Cal 9, Saint Mary's 5, Navy 13, Central Washington 9, Lindenwood 11.

Lindenwood: Losses to Life and Arkansas State make this difficult. Their win over Central Washington really keeps them up there. Interestingly, if CWU had won that game we would definitely be talking about them being #1.

Saint Mary's: The Gaels have beaten every team they've played by wide margins. This includes UCLA, Arizona, BYU, and Cal Poly. The lone exception is Central Washington, a team they beat by one point. Add to that the fact that they beat BYU in convincing fashion while Cal lost to those self-same Cougars, and you have to mark them as the top team on the West Coast ... for now.

Fun fact: Saint Mary's plays Cal in Moraga this coming weekend; Life plays BYU in Provo; Army plays Arizona in Tucson; Lindenwood finishes their Midwest Conference season with two games (McKendree and Adrian).

OK, so back to the debate. This is what we're thinking. Navy has an argument to stay at #1, but they've been there all season and if you can't unseat them by beating them, then how? It is completely and utterly possible that Navy will be D1A Champions again, but we won't have them ranked #1 come playoff time. If the team that beaten them had been a #2 or #3 team, then moving the winning team to #1 would be easy, but it's not easy. Cal lost to BYU and Army quite recently, and we can't overlook that. (Remember our comments about how Cal has pushed aside regular-season losses to make the D1A final before and could easily do it again, but that's not a reason to overlook those losses in the rankings.)

Lindenwood is an excellent candidate, but their season runs parallel in many ways to Life University's (in that they play some of the same teams) and Life beat Lindenwood and beat Arkansas State (a team Lindenwood lost to). 

Life, as we said, has the drawback of having played the fewest games of the teams involved. But they have won every game, except for a close loss to Navy. Saint Mary's has played a bigger schedule but not a stronger schedule, with only five ranked-level opponents. However, those opponents include BYU (Life and SMC both beat them) and Central Washington. Do we smooth over Life's loss to Navy in October or do we decide that five ranked opponents is enough for Saint Mary's?

In the end, we're going with Life. Life has beaten Mary Washington, Queens, Army, Mount St. Mary's, Lindenwood, Arkansas State, and Penn State. They lost 20-14 to Navy October 7. That's a strong schedule, and while the strongest schedule is almost certainly Navy's (Army also has played 13 ranked-level teams), it's strong enough.

What To Do About Cal

Cal beat the #1 team. But there's a body of work there, too. Navy, as we said, has had the strongest schedule of anyone and has lost ... once. Cal has had a strong schedule, too, but has lost twice. How can we rank Cal ahead of BYU, when they lost to BYU and BYU lost to both Saint Mary's and Central Washington? We can't. Can we say "eh, that loss to Army didn't count." That is enormously had to do given that it was two weeks ago. Cal moves up one spot, but are poised to jump way up, and that would happen if they beat Saint Mary's.

Rk. Prev. College Team Conference Notes
1 2 Life University Rugby East Beat Penn State (18)
2 3 Saint Mary's California Beat BYU (7)
3 1 Navy Rugby East Lost to Cal (9)
4 6 Lindenwood Midwest Beat Central Washington (4)
5 4 Central Washington Independent Lost to Lindenwood (6)
6 7 BYU Rocky Mountain Lost to Saint Mary's (3)
7 8 Army Rugby East Beat Mary Washington (14)
8 9 Cal PAC Beat Navy (1)
9 11 Davenport Midwest Beat Arkansas State (5)
10 5 Arkansas State Independent Close loss to Davenport (11)
11 10 UCLA PAC  
12 12 Arizona PAC Beat Utah
13 13 Cal Poly California  
14 14 Mary Washington Rugby East Lost to Army (8)
15 15 Mount St. Mary's Rugby East  
16 16 Grand Canyon Independent  
17 17 Colorado State Rocky Mountain  
18 21 CSULB California Beat Santa Clara
19 18 Penn State Rugby East Lost to Life (2)
20 19 Air Force Rocky Mountain  
21 20 Texas A&M Red River  
22 22 Texas Red River  
23 23 Adrian Midwest  
24 24 Michigan State Big 10  
25 25 UC Santa Barbara California