Goff Rugby Twitter     Goff Rugby Facebook

Quo Vadis Ivy League? Men, Women Options Differ

irish rugby tours

Quo Vadis Ivy League? Men, Women Options Differ

Dartmouth in action in 2017. The men's team has a ton of options. The women's team is happy in NIRA.

While the COVID shutdowns and delays mean very, very few college rugby teams and conferences are in action, many are still working on decisions regarding what competition oversight group they want to join.

This can be a complex issue and few more so than the Ivy League. It’s not like the Ivy League can move en masse—many of the teams in the group are student-run or run through their school club sports department, while others are NCAA varsity teams. 

With Dartmouth, Harvard, and Brown women all in the NIRA league for NCAA programs, they already have a home and (most likely) an extension of their agreement through NIRA on how to operate under the USA Rugby umbrella.

But that is not the case for the women’s teams at Penn, Columbia, Princeton, Cornell, or Yale. They also might play in the Ivy League women's competition, but are not varsity and are not part of NIRA or the NCAA. Last year, Princeton and Yale opted to play 7s during the fall, and with Dartmouth, Harvard, and Brown in NIRA, it was really just a three-team league (Cornell went 4-0 to outstrip Penn and Columbia). Penn is now in the Mid-Atlantic (which has joined ACRA MARC Women D2 Join ACRA) and Cornell is in the Upstate NY (NCR), so we're not even sure how an Ivy League competition happens—7s might be the most logical step for the women at this stage.

Meanwhile, the men’s programs are all club or elevated club, and that brings with it a new complication—who makes the decision to join an organization? The coach? The players? The alumni? It’s a rich tapestry.

So while many expect the Ivy League competitions, both men and women, to join National Collegiate Rugby (NCR), it hasn’t officially happened yet. According to conference President Amelia Luciano, the complications surrounding how each team is run is the main reason.

“Each school is taking it at its own pace for right now,” said Luciano. “Most of the students aren't on campus or allowed to train, and each school is vetting the insurance and legitimacy of NCR in its own way.”

With Dartmouth, Harvard, and Brown in NIRA anyway, their membership in NCR might not be necessary. However, maybe they need some nominal membership in order to compete with the other five women’s teams in the Ivy League competitions (see our article on NCR's insurance plan that, apparently, means such crossover games are covered). So each team is joining NCR individually at the moment, and we may not see all 16 teams (eight men and eight women) join NCR right off the bat.

“My goal is to give as many as want the opportunity to join NCR to do it, and we will structure a spring—or next fall, depending on COVID regulations—schedule around that.”