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College Playoff Brackets Nearly Set

  • 08 Nov 2021

Brown is into the DI NIRA playoffs / Photo: Emma Richards-Smith, Kaid Contractor

The various collegiate playoff brackets are oh-so-nearly set, as NIRA, NCR, ACRA and CRAA are all poised for regional and/or Wild Card rounds after last weekend’s results. TRB tracks collegiate and club playoffs here, and they’re based on the most current information available. The four separate organizations are the actual resources for playoffs; therefore, links to their brackets, if available, are included the following subheads.

RELATED: Nov. 5-7 Game Scores

NIRA (brackets)

The NCAA varsity league was waiting on one more contest – Brown vs. Mount St. Mary’s – before solidifying the DI semifinals, which will be contested Nov. 13. The Bears triumphed 34-10 Saturday and thus overtook Quinnipiac for the fourth seed to playoffs. The Providence, R.I., team will now travel to undefeated Dartmouth this weekend. When the teams met on Oct. 30, the Big Green won 47-5. On the other side of the bracket, #3 Army heads to #2 Harvard this Saturday. The Crimson won the teams’ regular-season match 22-7.

In Division II, West Chester gets the bye through the semifinals, having defeated Queens University of Charlotte 25-17 and American International College 34-12 in the regular season. The Yellow Jackets will travel to North Carolina for this Saturday’s play-in game. When the teams met each other on Oct. 16, Queens won 36-5.

The Division III semifinals had already been decided: #4 Colby-Sawyer travels to #1 Bowdoin, and #3 Norwich returns to the #2 Univ. New England. In the last couple of weeks, the Polar Bears tuned up against Army’s B side and banked a 36-0 win. The Cadets and Nor’easters played their second match of the fall to similar results: New England won 29-14. And the Chargers played friendlies against New England College (7s), St. Michael’s College and Endicott College – all wins.

The three national championship games will occur on Sunday, Nov. 21 at Army West Point, N.Y.

CRAA (bracket)

The DI fall championship was waiting on the final round of Big 10 and Northeast games to confirm final standings, and the final at-large vacancy in the East has also been decided.

UCONN beat Boston College 63-3, so the Huskies locked up the Northeast’s second seed and will play Navy in Annapolis, Md., in the Nov. 20 quarterfinals. Northeast champion Northeastern will play Big 10’s Indiana University, which took the at-large berth to the eastern portion of the bracket.

Utah State won Rocky Mountain / Photo: Natalie Thompson (IG @ig.natalieeet)

In the West, Utah State beat Colorado 42-29 to win the Rocky Mountain conference. The Aggies raced out to a 28-0 lead in the opening 20 minutes, led by outside Abigail Hymas, who scored 18 of her 32 points (4T, 6C) in the first quarter. But the Buffaloes owned the middle portion of the game, dotting down four-straight tries to trail 28-24. The Coloradans remained within a converted try until minute 66, when Hymas added the final seven points. The outcome means Utah State will play Big 10 champion Davenport University in the quarterfinals.

The Panthers had already secured the Big 10 title heading into the final week of regular season, but Saturday’s game against Iowa was canceled due to Covid-19 protocols. Meanwhile, Michigan beat Michigan State 32-5 and that bonus-point win was enough for second place in the league. The Big Blue will head to Norman, Okla., for the Round of 8/4 and play Utah State on Nov. 20.

The East and West victors will meet in Matthews, N.C., for the DI fall championship on Dec. 4.

ACRA (bracket)

ACRA will also host its championship on Dec. 4 in conjunction with CRAA. The competition serves fall-based DII colleges, and all five conference champions (as well as Rocky Mountain’s runner-up) received automatic berths to the Nov. 20 quarterfinals in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

Vassar’s Emily Howell scored seven tries vs Fairfield

Round of 8/4 host Vassar claimed the Tri-State championship with a 75-7 win against Fairfield. No. 8 Emily Howell set a new school record with seven tries, and several of those opportunities arose from the Brewers’ ability to steal scrums. Vassar now readies for top Rugby Northeast seed Colby College, which went on a three-game winning streak against Franklin Pierce, Middlebury and Providence in the second half of October.

The Rocky Mountain championship was also held last weekend, and Colorado School of Mines defeated Colorado Mesa University 57-14. Mines moved the ball around well, as shown by the diversity of try-scorers. Though scrumhalf Bryton Ferrari and inside center Marisa Shigio scored three tries apiece on Saturday. Both teams feature in the quarterfinals, as there’s no real play-in opportunity given the logistics of the league (Rocky Mountain is actually a CRAA conference).

New England Wide and Mid-Atlantic held two hotly contested finals on Saturday. The former named a new conference champion in Vermont, which defeated Coast Guard 34-31. Temple won the latter with a 29-12 victory against Kutztown. Stay tuned for follow-ups.

Vermont’s Clara Lemal-Brown vs USCGA / Photo: JJ Fagan

The four East Coast conference runners-up must now play a Nov. 13 Wild Card game to fill the final two quarterfinal spots. Rugby Northeast’s St. Michael’s College will play Fairfield, and Coast Guard will face Kutztown this Saturday.


The Division I bracket is set and begins at the Round of 16/8 at four locations this weekend. The following are updates since the previous playoff summary: Read the Oct. 28 summary.

Allegheny, Great Waters and Upstate New York held traditional regular seasons with playoffs and a championship match. Kent State took the Allegheny automatic berth with a 43-12 win against Pittsburgh. In Great Waters, Marquette beat UW Eau Claire 17-10 in the final and both advance to regionals. Colgate beat Syracuse 24-12 in the Upstate N.Y. title match, and while they both advance to the Round of 16/8, Syracuse must now travel to Danville, Va., while Colgate stays closer to home in Syracuse.

Great Lakes relies on standings, but the way the season worked out, Grand Valley State and Bowling Green ended league play against each other. Both were undefeated heading into Saturday so it served as a championship match. The Lakers battled to a 19-5 victory and both finalists head to regionals.

Notre Dame College is playoffs bound / Photo: William Miller

Ohio Valley is also standings based and Cincinnati made a clean sweep of the DI competition. On Saturday, the Bearcats played a friendly against Notre Dame College, which is taking an at-large berth to regionals, and lost 65-17. Read more about the Falcons.

The Illinois conference didn’t contest a season but Purdue played Western Illinois, Illinois State and Southern Indiana, and there was a spot waiting for the Boilermakers in Elkhart, Ind. Rugby Northeast was also points based and is sending its strongest DI team, Roger Williams, to Syracuse.

Clemson locked up the top South Atlantic (SARC) spot with a 26-12 win against Univ. South Carolina. And finally, Life University’s NCR side is heading to the Danville site with an at-large berth.

Northern Michigan on the hunt / Photo: Badger Kings (IG @badgerkings10)

In the NCR small college bracket, the East (Syracuse) and South (Danville) sites are booked. The following decisions were made since the previous post-season update:

  • Endicott beat Salve Regina 51-12 to win Colonial Coast. Both advance.
  • Lee Univ. defeated Virginia Military Institute 26-17 in the SARC final. Both will feature in Danville.
  • Loyola (Md.) is representing Eastern Penn after a 60-0 qualifying game against Shippensburg. Read more.
  • Middlebury was the strongest of Rugby Northeast’s three small colleges and played up against St. Michael’s and Colby – which are both competing in the DII ACRA playoffs – and Bowdoin’s B side.

Upstate New York also held its championship, and Cortland defeated Ithaca 54-0 for the automatic berth to the Round of 16. Ithaca did not seek an at-large berth to regionals, but semifinalist Rochester did. Rochester had lost 19-14 to Ithaca to miss out on the title bout and will now play Cortland in the Nov. 13 games.

In the western portion of the small college bracket, Northern Michigan won Great Waters with a 43-0 championship victory against Univ. Chicago. Read more. Northern Lights also named its champion – MSU Moorhead – which defeated St. Scholastica 79-43 in the title match. Wayne State College swept Mid-America … and that’s where the western regionals end. Teams have withdrawn and at-large berths have gone unfilled. So, reigning national champion Wayne State College advances directly to the semifinals in Knoxville, Tenn., and Northern Michigan and Moorhead are slated for a quarterfinal alone.

NCR has an official playoff update circulating this week, so match-ups might change. Stay tuned.

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