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NCR Releases Preseason Power 10 Rankings

  • 30 Aug 2023
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UWEC rugby

National Collegiate Rugby (NCR) has released Preseason Power 10 Rankings for its women’s Division I, Division II and Small College competitions. The coaches polls will update every week once the 2023 season officially kicks off, and is a nice overview of the landscape as the fall evolves. Remember that NCR contests its 15s national championships in the fall (December 1-2, Houston), and 7s championships in the spring. Also, check out NCR’s Friday Night Lights, which feature three women’s games this season.

DIVISION I

Michigan rugby

Michigan’s Ember Larson, a 2023 MA Sorensen nominee / Photo: Jackie Finlan

NCR’s membership has grown, most notably in the Division II realm but also in Division I. The pre-season rankings reflect as much, with consistent powerhouses Virginia Women’s Rugby and Virginia Tech making the top six. Reigning DI national champion Michigan takes top honors and is joined by fellow Big 10 Univ. Iowa at No. 3. 2022 national runner-up Notre Dame College starts at No. 4 and operates under former Baldwin Wallace Univ. head coach Vanessa Marsh. The Falcons also return USA U23 prop Alivia Leatherman, who featured in Brazil for the Americas Rugby Trophy and in Boston for the Border Battle.

The Midwest is well represented by Univ. Northern Iowa and Iowa State. The Cyclones’ new head coach, Greg Rodrigue, replaces Kelsie McDowell, who is now an Army West Point assistant coach. Southern Nazarene Univ. headlines the Lonestar conference and drew extra attention when all-star Telesi Uhatafe signed with the Texas Team, a pro franchise within Premier 7s. Reigning SARC champion Clemson also won a CRC 7s championship to close out spring 2023, and holds the No. 9 spot. And Boise State, now part of the new High Peaks conference with teams from Colorado, Idaho and Utah, rounds out the top 10.

DIVISION II

This competition has really expanded this year and has filled in its map with very strong teams from the Northeast quadrant as well as Colorado. All of CRAA’s fall 15s semifinalists feature in NCR’s pre-season rankings: two-time reigning fall champion Vassar (2), 2022 runner-up U.S. Coast Guard (3), Colorado School of Mines (8) and Temple Univ. (9). Vassar comes out of a very competitive Tri-State conference and it would be no surprise to see teams like Fairfield or Columbia on future rankings. Coast Guard, too, always gets a good push from Univ. Vermont in the New England Wide. Mines finished runner-up to Roger Williams (5) in 2023 DII CRC 7s, and Mid-Atlantic’s Temple – like the aforementioned – have solid, recent experience deep into the post-season.

 

Vassar Rugby

Vassars’s new to NCR / Photo: Vassar Athletics

Reigning NCR 15s and 7s national champion UW Eau Claire takes the top spot, and 2022 runner-up Marquette comes in fourth. Perennial 15s and 7s contender Roger Williams, which plays up from Small College, Great Lakes champion Bowling Green (6) and Ohio Valley power Univ. Cincinnati (7) fill in the meat of the lineup. And Coastal Carolina, which has been building momentum in the SARC, rounds out the list at No. 10.

One might note the absence of 2022 semifinalist Wayne State College, which was moved from Small College to Division II last season. Well the Wildcats are back in Small College this year, but return without long-time head coach Darrin Barner. Former Univ. South Dakota coach Bryn Chivers, a former USA Rugby age grade coach, has taken over the Wildcat program, so expect good things out of Nebraska.

SMALL COLLEGE

Endicott rugby

Endicott won both the 15s and 7s national trophies / Photo: Jackie Finlan

The top-three finishers from 2022 occupy the top-three spots in the rankings: champion Endicott (1), Northern Michigan (2) and Lee Univ. (3), which has bid farewell to head coach Chris Martin. St. Scholastica debuted at the national semifinals last year, learned some lessons, and comes in at No. 9. SUNY Cortland (4) had given eventual champ Endicott a really tough game (31-27) in the national quarterfinals and rode that accomplishment to the top four. EPRU champ East Stroudsburg (6) and Upstate New York champ St. Bonaventure (8) both ran into the Flames during the 2022 post-season but put in competitive performances. Colby (5) represents Maine and the Rugby Northeast, and put in a solid performance in last year’s CRC 7s.

Siena (7) and Eastern Connecticut (10) are among the new teams to NCR and represent the Tri-State and New England Wide conferences, respectively. Eager to see these teams cross over in the regional championships, which occur Nov. 11-12 for DII and Small College.

Regular-season games will start on Sept. 9, but it’ll take a couple of weeks before all of the conferences are in full title. Check out TRB’s Score Page for weekend updates across all girls’ high school, women’s college and women’s senior club competitions.

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