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What's Up with D1AA Playoff Prospects

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What's Up with D1AA Playoff Prospects

Last year's CRAA D1AA playoffs, with WWU vs USD. Photo SDSDomination.

Given how messed up college rugby fans would be forgiven for being confused about who, what, and where when it comes to various championships.

Well, we're here to help. Specifically, today we're looking at D1AA. Now, Men's D1AA is the division one step below (and we don't like that word but, yeah, below) D1A. NCR D1 is kind of between them, with teams that compete at a D1A level and teams that have historically competed at a D1AA level. If we broadly generalize, NCR D1 and CRAA D1A teams are either under athletic departments, school funded, or strongly funded through alumni. That's not all of then, but it's the vast majority. Some are just well-run club teams at very large schools. 

D1AA teams are almost exclusively club teams (NCR has done a good job of mapping out guidelines for this and as a result some teams had to move up from D1AA to D1). 

Even the term D1AA is confusing, because, while D1A is the exclusive use of CRAA, and NCR uses D1, everyone uses the term D1AA. So when someone says they're D1AA National Champions, it can imply that they won a playoff that featured everyone, when, in fact, it didn't. NCR held their D1AA playoffs in the fall, and Kentucky were impressive and deserving champions. But Kentucky did not have to play anyone west of the Mississippi. Similarly, no western teams has had to get by the likes of Kentucky or Louisville. 

In the spring, we now have five conferences to talk about. Here goes:

California North: We go into detail about this conference's playoff chase here>>

California South: We talk about this here also. But the upshot is that there won't be a playoff between California South and California North. 

California South is essentially the teams left of the Gold Coast Conference, which was ACR but ACR's playoffs are now conjoined with that of CRAA. California North was always CRAA.

NCRC: This conference was previously split with some teams being members of NCR, and some members of ACR (under USA Rugby). But the NCR teams realized over the offseason that geography and the costs associated with overcoming that geography made it pointless to be in NCR. So all of the teams in the NCRC D1 (WWU, Washington, Oregon, Oregon State, and Boise State) are in the CRAA/ACR playoff scenario. More on where we stand with this group below.

Heart of America: HOA capped off their season in the fall and were ACR last year, and now part of the CRAA/ACR conjoinification. What they have now is their conference champion, Iowa State, is waiting for ...

Lonestar: The Lonestar Conference champion (likely either Sam Houston State or Rice) will play Iowa State in what amounts to a regional final.

Florida: Part of the CRAA umbrella starting last year, Florida teams are also in geographic isolation so as a result will play bowl games on the CRAA Finals Weekend. Expect one of those opponents to be the team that finishes 2nd in the Lonestar Conference. We might also see a HOA or NCRC opponent, as well. 


April 13 in Des Moines, Iowa, East Regional Final between Iowa State and Lonestar Champion.

April 20-21: West Regional Semis and Final including California South champs (almost certainly U. San Diego), California North champs (TBD), NCRC champs (almost certainly WWU or Boise State) plus one at-large team (either a California North team or an NCRC team).

May 4-5: D1AA Final and also likely two bowl games featuring Florida teams.

Western Washington defeated Oregon State Feb. 10 to go to 2-0 in the NCRC and will now face off in a non-conference game with University of British Columbia followed by conference games against Boise State and Oregon. Happily for us, those are the other top teams that could challenge WWU for the NCRC title. Oregon plays Oregon State this coming weekend, and a bonus-point win, combined with a bonus-point win over WWU combined with a Western Washington win over Boise State could give Oregon 1st place as long as neither WWU or BSU get any bonus points. Actually, WWU could get one and still Oregon would take 1st.

Of course, that's asking a lot of the scenarios. More likely is that the winner of WWU vs Boise State March 2 will take the league.

For WWU, they are playing well with some experienced players including Max Stone (whose kicking has been key), wing Elijah Ashmann (who has become a really effective scorer), and power up front with Joe Merlino, Hayden Hester, and Baylor Barrett. Ashmann has emerged as part of a dangerous deep three with Charlie Funk and Liam Herring. 

Boise State, meanwhile, are the defending conference champions. They get a lot of players who played rugby in high school in California (which means the regional playoffs will be a bit of a homecoming), and they are getting more of them. Flyhalf Tom Keay and center Leo Delannoy lead an effective backline and up front they have size and power. When they get rolling, they are very difficult to stop.

NCRC Scores and Schedule:
Boise State 21 Oregon State 6
Oregon 7 Boise State 31
Oregon State 5 Western Washington 49
Washington 14 Western Washington 65
Oregon 38 Washington 10
Boise State 48 Washington 10

Feb. 24 Oregon State at Oregon
Mar. 2 Boise State at Western Washington
Mar. 9 Washington at Oregon State
Mar. 9 Western Washington at Oregon

Boise State 3 0 0 100 23 77 2 0 14
Western Washington 2 0 0 115 19 96 2 0 10
Oregon 1 1 0 45 41 4 1 0 5
Washington 0 3 0 34 151 -117 0 0 0
Oregon State 0 2 0 11 70 -59 0 0 0