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Navy Officially Joins NIRA

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Navy Officially Joins NIRA

Navy won the CRAA Fall D1 in 2021 and 2022.

ANNAPOLIS, Md.—The US Naval Academy women's team has officially joined the National Intercollegiate Rugby Association (NIRA) competition for NCAA Varsity programs.

Navy competed as an independent team in CRAA D1 during its first varsity season and now will be joining NIRA's D1 for the fall of 2024 2023.

NIRA is an association of NCAA member schools sponsoring women’s rugby that serves in two capacities; the competitive home for current NCAA women’s rugby programs and the advocacy and outreach arm of the NCAA Emerging Sports for Women on behalf of women’s rugby.

“We are excited for this move to NIRA for the program," said Navy Head Coach Murphy McCarthy. "We have not been part of a conference in some time and we are looking forward to competing against some outstanding academic institutions with equally impressive rugby teams.”

Navy will join Army, Brown, Dartmouth, Harvard, Long Island, Mount St. Mary’s, Quinnipiac, Sacred Heart, and Princeton in NIRA D1.

This is just the latest in a series of additional teams joining NIRA.

If your rugby program is interested in becoming NCAA Varsity, there are certainly some hoops to jump through—teams essentially have to be NCAA compliant and committed by January before competing the following fall. For club teams that want to campaign to achieve this status, especially because of Title IX cimpliance, it is up to the student-athletes, not former players, parents, third-party advocates, or even coaches.

See more about this topic in the following articles:

At 50 Title IX Not Quite There; Rugby Can Help 

What Colleges Are The Best Title IX Rugby Targets?

A healthy endowment and strong alumni support system certainly help, but it is the students themselves who drive the process of convincing an athletic department to add women's rugby.

Navy will certainly become a strong competitor in NIRA, and it's worth noting that in the fall of 2021 Navy played Davenport in the CRAA Fall D1 final. Davenport went on to join NIRA in D2, and made the final where they were edged by Queens University Charlotte in overtime. While D1 is expected to be a tougher proposition, Navy, which defeated Utah State 61-28 in the CRAA Fall D1 final this past December for a repeat title, should compete well in the league.