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NIRA Rugby After a Month of Play

  • 03 Oct 2022
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NIRA Rugby

The National Intercollegiate Rugby Association (NIRA) has closed on its first full month of NCAA varsity rugby. Standings for all three divisions follow, as well as some general competition updates. The second half of the season tends to see point differentials narrow in certain parts of the league, as closer-ranked teams start to see each other and the playoff build heightens. For a running log of NIRA scores, check here.

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First, standings calculations. Wins are 4 points and ties are 2 points. Teams that score four or more tries (BT) or lose by seven or fewer points (BL) receive a bonus point for each stat. Forfeits are recorded as 28-0 bonus-point wins to the non-offending team, and a 28-0 loss to the team that forfeits. Additionally, a standings point is subtracted. And finally, only in-conference 15s matches count toward the standings, which will inform the post-season seedings.

DIVISION 1 RUGBY

As one might expect, Division 1 is the most consistent, and next year when Navy joins, the competition will top out with 10 teams. Games have been occurring as scheduled for the most part, with Long Island University being the exception. (The Brown vs. Army has also been rescheduled.) The Sharks canceled some early-season games, and while some have been rescheduled, games against Harvard and Dartmouth will not take place. As a result, the Crimson and Big Green take the forfeit wins and that’s why their “Games Played” do not match their win-loss records. Mount St. Mary’s is in a similar situation record wise. The Mountaineers did play LIU in two 10s matches, but non-15s games do not count as regulation matches. So The Mount also gets the 28-0 bonus-point win.

DIVISION 1 GP W L T PF PA PD BT BL FF PTS
Harvard 4 5 0 0 300 31 269 5 0 0 25
Dartmouth 3 4 0 0 122 28 94 4 0 0 20
Army West Point 4 3 1 0 188 50 138 3 0 0 15
Brown 4 2 1 1 154 71 83 3 0 0 13
Sacred Heart 4 1 2 1 85 101 -16 2 0 0 8
Quinnipiac 4 1 3 0 95 127 -32 1 1 0 6
Mount St. Mary’s 3 1 3 0 42 190 -148 1 0 0 5
Princeton 4 0 4 0 21 325 -304 0 0 0 0
Long Island 0 0 3 0 0 84 -84 0 0 3 -3

There have been some really fun games so far. Sacred Heart and Brown tied each other 24-24; Army edged Quinnipiac 24-19; and last weekend, a rematch of the D1 national championship occurred. Dartmouth beat Army 24-15, nearly the same margin as the 2021 final’s victory. Like Dartmouth, Harvard is still undefeated, and perhaps most exciting, a trio of freshmen – Cam Fields, Lennox London, Tiahna Padilla – are crushing it as first-years.

The top-four teams advance to the D1 national semifinals on Nov. 12 (higher seed hosts). Harvard, Dartmouth and Army are paving their way there, and much like last year, Brown, Quinnipiac and Sacred Heart are all converging on that fourth semifinal spot.

DIVISION 2 RUGBY

Division 2 has built out to six post-season-eligible teams this year, which is great. Davenport University has been a great addition (and just beat AIC 22-19 last weekend), and New Haven and Lander have progressed to the 15s format. That’s big. Looking at the standings, however, it appears that Division 2 isn’t playing much rugby. That’s not the case, of course, just a function of the geographic range of the conference.

DIVISION 2 GP W L T PF PA PD BT BL FF PTS
AIC 2 1 1 0 105 22 83 1 1 0 6
West Chester 2 1 1 0 66 20 46 1 0 0 5
Davenport 1 1 0 0 22 19 3 1 0 0 5
Queens 1 1 0 0 20 0 20 0 0 0 4
Lander 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
New Haven 1 0 1 0 0 66 -66 0 0 0 0

D2 spans from Michigan, to Massachusetts, to North Carolina, so while midway locations are often used, teams have to fill their schedules with local competition. Alderson Broaddus and Newberry College are also D2 institutions, and when they grow to 15s, they’ll help fill out the southern sector of D2. Navy has also been a great non-conference opponent for AIC, Lander and West Chester, and the Midshipmen will travel to Davenport and host Queens before the fall ends.

Those cross-divisional, non-15s and non-NIRA games aren’t reflected in the standings, which of course, will be used to determine playoff seedings. This year, D2 will be able to hold a proper final four, unlike last year when only three teams were post-season eligible.

DIVISION 3 RUGBY

There are nine D3 institutions in NIRA, and four are playing 15s regularly. Much like D2, the standings suggest that D3 isn’t playing much rugby, but again, that’s not true. The large geographic range – from Maine, to Michigan, to South Carolina – necessitates local and non-NIRA matches on the schedule.

DIVISION 3 GP W L T PF PA PD BT BL FF PTS
Bowdoin 2 2 0 0 104 7 97 2 0 0 10
Norwich 1 1 0 0 34 13 21 1 0 0 5
Univ New England 1 0 1 0 7 31 -24 0 0 0 0
Castleton 2 0 2 0 13 107 -94 0 0 0 0

And these non-NIRA games inject good competition and drama. Bowdoin, for example, will play teams like CRAA D1 UCONN and CRAA D2 fall champion Vassar College, a regular and highly anticipated fixture. Univ. New England hosted CRAA D1 Northeastern University for a 12-7 win last weekend. These two programs regularly feature in the D3 national championship.

Also of note, Castleton University has grown from 7s to 15s under second-year head coach Denver Divens. Adrian College in Michigan played its first-ever 15s match against D2 Davenport, and has another runout against the Panthers on Oct. 22. New England College (NEC) and Manhattanville College played their first rugby of the season last weekend, as NEC hosted a 7s round robin with the New Yorkers, Castleton and Colby-Sawyer College, which is regrouping in the provisional division. See full results here.

POST-SEASON

The national semifinals for all divisions will occur on Nov. 5, with the higher seed hosting. The three national championships all occur on the same day, Nov. 12, at the same location (TBA), and receive the same media attention and build-up.

NIRA NATIONAL CHAMPIONS

2021 (D1) Dartmouth U.S. Military Academy
2021 (D2) AIC West Chester
2021 (D3) Bowdoin Univ. New England
2020
CLD BY COVID-19
2019 (Tier 1) Harvard U.S. Military Academy
2019 (Tier 2) West Chester Brown
2019 (D3) Bowdoin Univ. New England
2018 Dartmouth Harvard
2017 Quinnipiac Dartmouth
2016 Quinnipiac Central Washington
2015 Quinnipiac U.S. Military Academy
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