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National Collegiate Rugby Adds DII Women’s Competition

  • 09 Aug 2022
Lee Univ rugby

National Collegiate Rugby (NCR) is expanding its women’s competitions for the 2022-23 season, and this fall, 15s national champions will be named in division I, division II and small college categories. The women’s national championship finale occurs Saturday-Sunday, Dec. 3-4 in Houston, Texas.

RELATED: NCR Names ’21-’22 Scholastic All-Americans

A growing membership has allowed NCR to add another tier of competition that places programs with similar assets and mindsets together. Teams can now declare themselves as DI, DII or Small College, and those designations have their own post-season pathways. There are still hybrid conferences, which support cross-divisional play for geographically isolated and/or non-15s play, but they’re only relevant to the regular season.

Ruggette rugby


Nothing changes for small colleges. They’ll play their traditional 15s season, hold conference championships, and then flow into the Round 16/8 on Nov. 12-13. Teams will report to one of four locations:

Beverly, Mass. – East bracket
Elkhart, Ind. – Midwest bracket
Culpepper, Va. – South bracket
Wayne, Neb. – West bracket

Four semifinalists will emerge from that weekend and report to the national championships on Dec. 3-4 in Houston.

Allegheny, Colonial Coast, Eastern Pennsylvania, Great Lakes, Great Waters, Northern Lights, Ohio Valley, Prairie States, Rugby Northeast, South Atlantic, Texas and Upstate New York field Small College 15s teams. Wayne State College is the reigning national champion but has been promoted into Division II this year in Mid-America.


Last year, all of the non-small college teams were funneled into Division I, but the addition of Division II is a welcomed middle ground for NCR’s expanding membership. There you’ll find teams from Allegheny, Great Lakes, Great Waters, Mid-America, Northern Lights, Ohio Valley, Rugby Northeast, South Atlantic, Texas, Upstate New York and independent New Mexico State. Small colleges (like Wayne State College and Roger Williams) can opt into DII.

The playoffs start with a wild card round on Nov. 5, and then eight teams head to three different locations (Elkhart, Ind., Culpepper, Va., Wayne, Neb.) for a quarterfinal match on Nov. 12. It’s a one-game weekend, and the four victors advance to the national championships on Dec. 3-4 in Houston.

UNI rugby

’21 NCR DI National SFs: UNI vs. Notre Dame College / Photo: Jackie Finlan

Division I was made possible by the addition of the Big 10 and Texas, and they join teams from the Midwest, Allegheny, SARC’s Clemson and Upstate New York. The reigning DI champion, Life University JV, is not competing in the NCR 15s season, which overlaps with the varsity team’s DI Elite championship season, now being contested in the fall. (DI Elite competes under CRAA.)

The DI post-season begins on Nov. 12 with play-ins, where necessary. The Round of 8/4 follows, and it’s a Friday-Sunday format.  Quarterfinals are Friday, Nov. 18 and semifinals are Sunday, Nov. 20. West and Midwest teams will head to St. Louis, Mo., while East and South teams travel to Reading, Pa.

“This is what the DI teams wanted, and they committed to that,” NCR Women’s DI and DII Commissioner Angela Smarto said of the Friday-Sunday set-up for the DI Rounds of 8/4. “You have a longer schedule, but it’s kind of what DI needs. They’re maybe more invested financially to travel a little farther and get that day of rest [after the quarterfinals], so you can play your best game possible on Sunday.”

Marquette rugby

’21 NCR DI National SFs: Marquette vs. Life JV / Photo: Jackie Finlan

The same holds true for the national championship weekend; DI has a single championship game on Dec. 4.

“Small colleges and DII get that extra week to fundraise and get themselves organized [for nationals],” Smarto said of the three weeks between their regional playoffs and final-four weekend. “They’re in the mindset of: If I’m going all this way, I better get two games. … They’ll both have equitable playoff experiences.”

The Dec. 3-4 national championship weekend will be a women-only event, featuring semifinalists for small college and DII, and finalists for DI.

Nov. 5             DII play-ins
Nov. 12           DI play-ins
Nov. 12           DII Quarterfinals (3 sites)
Nov. 12-13     Small College Rd 16 & Quarterfinals (4 sites)
Nov. 18           DI Quarterfinals (2 sites)
Nov. 20          DI Semifinals (2 sites)
Dec. 3             DII & Small College national semifinals (Houston, Texas)
Dec. 4             DI, DII, Small College National Championship finals (Houston, Texas)

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