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NIRA Championship Semifinals Set

  • 05 Nov 2023
NIRA rugby

The regular season has concluded for NCAA varsity women’s rugby programs, and now the National Intercollegiate Rugby Association (NIRA) moves into the post-season starting Saturday, Nov. 11. All three divisions will hold their respective semifinals next weekend, with the higher seed in each match-up hosting the match. The Nov. 11 victors will then advance to the Nov. 18 finals at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.


Division I expanded to 10 teams for 2023, thus making it impossible for all teams to play each other during the regular season. So “pots” were created, teams made their own schedules, and the conference employed power rankings (click here for the actual calculations) to sort its members by relative strength.

#4 Sacred Heart Univ. @ #1 Harvard Univ.
#3 Quinnipiac Univ. @ #2 Dartmouth College


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Ivy League champion Harvard went undefeated on the season, and played its closest match against No. 2 Dartmouth College in the Ivy League decider. That was a two-point decision that surely sharpened both for their home field semifinals this Saturday.

Quinnipiac Univ. will travel to Dartmouth as the No. 3 seed. The Bobcats lost to both Dartmouth and Harvard, but the game against the Big Green didn’t count toward power rankings. Teams only had to play two Pot 1 teams, and Quinnipiac played all three. (THANK YOU, Jenn Jordan and the Crimson Parents Rugby Network for the education in power rankings!) No. 4 Sacred Heart Univ., which finished 5-1 on the season with its loss coming against the Bobcats, 22-17.

The Pioneers will travel to Harvard for Saturday’s semifinal, and the trip will mark the first time that Sacred Heart has featured in the DI post-season.


Both the North and South pools include three DII teams, and those are games that count toward the conference records. But with only six teams playing 15s in DII, there’s a lot of crossover between pools.

American International College (North 2) @ Lander Univ. (South 1)
West Chester Univ. (South 2) @ Davenport Univ. (North 1)

Davenport played all three of the semifinalists during the fall, so the Panthers have first-hand knowledge of all potential opponents. When the Michigan team played South runner-up West Chester in mid-September, Davenport won by 149 points.

Lander University locked up the South #1 seed after beating West Chester 45-19, and celebrates its first-ever 15s post-season. The South Carolina program will host North #2 AIC inside Van Taylor Stadium. The Yellow Jackets tested themselves against three DI teams this fall, and closed out the regular season with a 64-17 loss to Davenport.


There were four DIII programs that honored 15s matches, and so all four advance to the playoffs.

#4 Norwich Univ. @ #1 Bowdoin College
#2 Adrian College vs. #3 Univ. New England @ Alfred Univ., N.Y.

Reigning DIII champion Bowdoin is the undisputed No. 1 seed and went undefeated throughout the season. It bulked up its schedule with non-conference matches against DII and CRAA DI teams – and won – so expect the Polar Bears to continue to set the standard.

The Polar Bears will host #4 Norwich in Brunswick, Maine, and the match will feature two new head coaches (Laura Miller and Baylee Annis).

On the other side of the bracket, Adrian, in its first season of varsity 15s, finished #2 overall and will head to Alfred University in New York, where #3 Univ. New England will be waiting. When the two met in the regular season, the game went to a 26-26 final, so suffice to say, this is the rematch we’ve been waiting for.

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