College Rugby Association of America (CRAA) is where spring 15s happens. All of the other women’s college rugby teams (in NIRA and NCR) are playing 7s or friendly 15s – a breakdown that is covered in Part 1 of TRB’s collegiate spring 15s review. Part 1 also focuses on the DI Elite and DI Spring spaces, and the following addresses the Division II competition.
Quickly: The Pacific Desert (SoCal), West Coast (NorCal) and Florida (basically, Eckerd College) conferences are competing toward CRAA’s Division II Spring 15s Championship. There may be independent teams vying for qualification, but those anomalies are unknown at this point.
WHAT’S NEW WITH DII?
Up until last year, it was important to distinguish between CRAA’s two DII 15s championships — fall and spring. There were two totally different competitions and named separate 15s champions. But everything changed for the 2023-24 school year when all of CRAA’s DII fall conferences moved to NCR. Those teams that broke with their DII conferences – like Colorado Mesa University and Howard University – promoted themselves into CRAA’s Division I, which is still intact. [CMU did just fine in DI, advancing to the DI fall championship against Northeastern University, the victor.]
So CRAA did not hold a fall 15s championship because there were no teams vying for it. All of CRAA’s DII membership now competes in the spring season and toward the spring title. So technically, CRAA could reframe the spring season as its “DII national championship” season and drop the seasonal modifier. One will have to wait and see how CRAA promotes the post-season.
And finally, there are two fewer conferences playing spring 15s this year. The Capital (D.C./Maryland/Virginia) and Carolinas conferences also moved from CRAA to NCR last year and adopted the fall 15s / spring 7s seasonality. So who’s left in CRAA’s DII?
SPRING DII COMPETITORS
Eckerd College, Florida International, Miami Univ, South Florida
Rugby in Florida lists a DII matrix schedule from Feb. 3-April 13, but also lists the member teams’ registration numbers beside it. Eckerd is looking very strong numbers wise, but will it be playing 15s against its DII Florida compatriots? Likely not. And it’s been that way for years. The Sirens are in a DII desert, but hopefully can bulk up its schedule with DI and senior club friendlies.
PACIFIC DESERT (6)
Claremont DII (not eligible for post-season), UC Irvine, CSU Northridge, Long Beach State, MiraCosta, Univ. San Diego
SoCal is home to the two-time-reigning DII spring champion — Claremont Colleges — but the Foxes and San Diego State self-promoted to Division I this year after seeing the nationwide shift of collegiate conferences. Filling the vacancies are CSU Northridge, which dropped from DI, and Univ. San Diego, a completely new program. Additionally, Claremont is running its second side in DII, though it won’t be eligible for post-season consideration.
Univ. Nevada Las Vegas was originally penciled into the spring schedule but has since withdrawn. And we know MiraCosta doesn’t quite have 15s numbers right now. Long Beach State and UC Irvine are the stalwarts and play each other this Saturday, offering an early look at the main title contenders.
WEST COAST (10)
• North: Humboldt, UN Reno, Sacramento State, St. Mary’s College, USF/SFSU
• South: CSU Monterey Bay, Cal Poly SLO, Univ. California Santa Cruz, San Jose State, Santa Clara
The 10-team NorCal competition has split into North and South pools this year, and teams play their pool-mates home and away during the regular season. Crossovers will occur at the conference championship weekend in April.
In the North, Sacramento State and UN Reno are the teams to watch. The duo played a lead-exchanging game in January, and they’re consistently playing 15s with reserves. But the teams with the biggest numbers reside in the South pool, and Cal Poly SLO and UC Santa Cruz are chief among them. The duo faced each other last weekend and field two full sides for A and B games. The Mustangs won both matches by a combined 71-5.