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NEWCRC, Colonial Coast Conferences Merging to Form New Conference

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NEWCRC, Colonial Coast Conferences Merging to Form New Conference

The new conference logo.

The Colonial Coast and the NEWCRC conferences will be combining forces to create the North Atlantic Collegiate Conference.

The thinking behind this move is multi-fold.

1. These two conferences, despite being multi-divisional and both men and women, overlap geographically. Both conferences are almost entirely in NEw England, and there are cases of teams that travel to games and pass colleges in the other conference on the way.

2. Teams are looking for competitive games. Both teams that win big and teams that lose big want and need games that are more competitive.

3 Joining forces will help organization and grow the game.

"We wanted to balance out the competition," said Colonial Coast Commissioner Keith Cattanach. "We get calls from teams that are struggling to compete, but we also are working with teams that are looking for tougher competition. We had some conversations with NEWCRC about how we balance this out."

"We've collaborated with the Colonial Coast since our inception," said Chris St. Onge, NEWCRC administrator who heads up the League Expansion Sub-Committee. "We've had a strong working relationship for close to a dozen years. We had cross-conference bowl games and collaborated with them and Rugby Northeast in an all-star competition before 7s kind of took over in the spring. So we know one another, and we have bounced ideas off one another all the time."

The conferences have similar challenges, including helping teams pull themselves out of COVID numbers crunches or simply helping newer teams grow.

In addition, said Cattanach, there is a desire for more regional competition. So collaboration between NEWCRC and Colonial Coast divisions, as well as other conferences, is on the horizon as well.

While there is a higher-level D2 component to the new conference, the North Atlantic Collegiate Conference, it's more about the teams that are struggling.

"We are going to have a D2, Small College Championship, Small College Challenge, and Developmental division for women," said Cattanach. "We have 15 teams in the Developmental Division."

There are 18 total in the other three divisions. For the men, the biggest division is Small College Challenge (12), but the Developmental Division still has six teams.

St. Onge spelled out the needs for those teams.

"Working together gives us a a better pathway for the developmental teams," said St. Onge. "We have a big number of development teams, mostly women. What is happening is they are working to get competition and see their numbers grow. Many don't have enough players for 15s. So we'll have three or four teams go to a central location and they will get competition, maybe play 7s with an eye toward getting to 15s, and play and compete and have fun. That is how you build numbers."

St. Onge points to University of Hartford women, which used to field a very competitive team but thanks to COVID shutdowns the team disappeared. They are back, now, with enough teams to play in the Developmental league, and then they can build toward more competitive 15-a-side rugby.

"The worst scenario is you show up to a 15s game and you don't have 15 and you have to forfeit," said St. Onge. "So this plan allows them to play in some capacity. So we're excited about what's to come."

Cattanach said the new conference will get 501c3 non-profit status. They will announce a schedule for all eight of their divisions, and there is a solid chance we will see other developments, such as some kind of regional postseason for lower divisions.

North Atlantic Teams by Division:

Men D2 Men D3 (Small College Championship Men D4 (Small College Challenge Men Developmental
Boston Univ. Endicott College Bridgewater State Univ. Bridgewater State Univ.
Coast Guard Academy Roger Williams Univ. So. Connecticut State  Franklin Pierce Univ.
Norwich Univ. Salve Regina Univ. Central Connecticut State  Johnson & Wales Univ.
Univ. of Maine Orno Bryant Univ. Mass. Maritime Academy Univ. of Hartford
Univ. of Mass Lowell Springfield College Plymouth State Univ. Western New England Univ.
Univ. of New Hampshire Stonehill College Quinapiac Univ. Wheaton College
Univ. of Vermont   Sacred Heart Univ.  
    St. Michaels Univ.  
    Univ. Mass Dartmouth  
    Wentworth Inst. of Technology  
    Westfield State College  
    Worcester Polytechnical Inst.  
Women D2 Women D3 (Small College Championship Women D4 (Small College Challenge Women Developmental
Coast Guard Academy Endicott College Eastern Connecticut State Babson College
Univ. of New Hampshire Plymouth State Univ. Mount Holyoke College Brandeis Univ.
Univ. of Vermont Salve Regina Univ. So. Connecticut State Univ. MIT
  Smith College Springfield College Lasell College
  Tufts Univ. UMaine Farmington College of the Holy Cross
  Worcester Polytechnical Inst. Wellesley College Johnson & Wales Univ.
  Yale Univ. Wentworth Inst. of Technology Connecticut College
    Univ. Mass Dartmouth Univ. of New Haven
      Wesleyan Univ.
      Central Connecticut State
      Univ. of Hartford
      Westfield State College
      Williams College
      Champlain College
      Union College