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Sources: Rugby East To Join NCR

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Sources: Rugby East To Join NCR

Notre Dame College vs St. Bonaventure from 2019. Chris Sustersic photo.

Sources indicate that the Rugby East will be running its membership through National Collegiate Rugby (NCR) when it returns to play.

Rugby East has been part of D1A which is now within the College Rugby Association of America. But now the conference, which includes Notre Dame College, St. Bonaventure, Kutztown, Army, Navy, and Penn State, will join the Liberty Conference as part of NCR.

This development has long been the subject of speculation during the restructuring of USA Rugby and the rise of NCR as a collegiate organization that works with more than just small-college teams (when they were NSCRO). Several programs within the Rugby East had expressed an interest in shifting to NCR mainly because of issues of seasonality—this 2020-21 year aside, Rugby East wants to play 15s in the fall. For a while it didn't seem like all of the teams wanted to make the move, but now it appears that the entire conference will join NCR.

In fact, it's more than the entire conference in 2019-2020 terms, as Navy has joined Rugby East.

Navy Men's Program Moving To Rugby East Conference

Interestingly, when Navy announced last week that it was moving from the Mid-South to the Rugby East, Goff Rugby Report asked Navy Head Coach Gavin Hickie whether the move was an indication of a desire to leave the CRAA and join NCR. 

Hickie replied that moving to the Rugby East was unrelated to NCR and he had had good conversations with CRAA leadership. So Navy moved for the in-conference competition, and ease of travel, while the move to NCR was a separate discussion.

The D1A Playoff Story In Numbers

It remains a question what playoff scenarios, if any, will be open to the Rugby East teams. Certainly there might be a crossover option with the Liberty Conference, but whether there could also be crossovers with the D1A teams in CRAA is a question without an answer at present. 

Certainly such a crossover option would require a team to pay additional dues to USA Rugby, and probably a fee to CRAA (if they were even open to the idea).

Meanwhile, what about the major backers for some of these programs? What will their reaction be if Rugby East teams don't play Life, Lindenwood, Indiana, Ohio State, Cal, or Saint Mary's? Once again the topic of how we manage conferences that have joined two separate and distinct oversight organizations rears its head.

For now, what is known is that Rugby East will be an NCR conference for at least the 2020-2021 season, and D1A under CRAA now consists of the Big 10, Red River, Mid-South, Rocky Mountain, California Conference, and PAC, as well as one independent in Central Washington.