Photo: Ken Klemencic
Yes, it’s early in the National Intercollegiate Rugby Association (NIRA) season, but the opening two weeks of action have already gripped attention. The following ranks the 17 Tier 1 and Tier 2 teams together and also looks ahead to this weekend’s pairings.
Both Harvard (2-0) and Dartmouth (2-0) have defeated three-time reigning NIRA champion Quinnipiac (0-2), setting a high-achieving tone for their respective seasons. But no one’s counting out the Bobcats, who had a similar start last year, dropping their season-opener to Dartmouth before peaking at the national championship.
Both Army (0-1) and AIC (1-0) played their first games of the season. The Black Knights remained at #4 after a competitive loss, 28-17, to #3 Harvard; while the Yellow Jackets leapt past idle Norwich after a 129-0 win over NIRA first-year Colby-Sawyer (1-1). The Sept. 22 game between Norwich and AIC will offer some good intel for this section of the rankings. [Read AIC head coach Tara Robert’s interview]
The most aggressive adjustment centered on Mount St. Mary’s (1-0), which kicked off the season with a 76-0 win over Sacred Heart (0-2). The Mount will play Molloy this weekend and then test itself against Tier 1 Notre Dame College (1-1). The Falcons began with a big loss to Dartmouth, 76-5, before rebounding with a 60-0 win over West Chester (0-1) last weekend.
The SHU Pioneers also regrouped well and finished a converted try short of Brown (1-0), 26-19. The performance doesn’t necessarily set off the loss in Emmitsburg, Md., but did for the meantime place the Connecticut squad above those teams that haven’t played a league match yet. Brown and West Chester will face each other on Sept. 22 and help sort out the middle of the rankings.
All of the idle teams (Norwich, New England, Bowdoin) dropped one or two spots, but only because of inactivity. The field will have a better look at the Cadets when they travel to Quinnipiac this weekend and then AIC the next. The Nor’easters and Polar Bears will both be on the pitch this weekend, but they’re playing clubs Keene State and Roger Williams, respectively, so the results will be recorded but not reflected in the records.
There were no moves in the bottom quadrant of the rankings, but explanations are still needed. When Colby-Sawyer and Molloy (1-1) opened up against each other, it was a fairly even match, but it was technically a forfeit loss due to the Lions’ insufficient numbers. The LIU Post vs. Castleton game was also a wild game that was decided in the final minute. But it will be a stretch for the bottom-three teams to play full 15s games this season, but not for Colby-Sawyer, which has strong numbers. The NIRA newcomer took it on the chin against AIC, but it was a proper 15s match.
NIRA WEEK 3
Brown v Dartmouth
Norwich v Quinnipiac
West Chester v Army
Molloy v Mount St. Mary’s
LIU Post v Sacred Heart
Colby-Sawyer v Castleton (9/17)
Bowdoin v Roger Williams (f)
Keene State v New England (f)