The 2023-24 rugby season opens up in September, and it’s a time to quickly catalogue competition changes while simultaneously sussing out interesting, early-season storylines. This impending weekend, Sept. 9-10, sees every level of the girls and women’s game in the U.S. take to the pitch. Be sure to check back for the teams making headlines.
The exception of course is the Women’s Premier League, which started in April. This weekend marks Week 12 or 14, and by Sept. 24, the WPL will know its semifinalists. Playoffs and final are in October. The caveat, however, is the overlapping international calendar, and teams that have focused on building rich depth throughout the season will be rewarded in the playoffs.
There’s actually quite a bit of international action going on this month. Rhinos is already in South Africa and will aid the host’s WXV prep, among other fixtures. The USA Women’s National Team is heading to Europe for some WXV prep as well, and will play an official test match against Wales on Sept. 30. There’s also talk of a friendly against Ireland (no details yet) and then it’s off to South Africa. And finally, the USA Rugby League women’s team is heading to Jamaica for the Americas North Championship, and lots of familiar players populate the roster: Read more.
In the senior club sphere, the Midwest is traditionally the first into league play, as its DI (“Premiership”) and DII champions will be named Nov. 11 in Lemont, Ill. Those teams then resurface for the Super Regionals in the spring. The Midwest has done away with its hybrid leagues and is fielding three competitions that have no post-season intermingling: Premiership (i.e., Division I), Division II and DIII. The Midwest does a great job of walking through the changes and team movement: Read more.
The New England and Empire GUs also name their club champs in the fall, and their members get to work this Saturday as well. NERFU fields three divisions (read more), all of which filter into the Atlantic Super Regional (which may alter its format this season – more to come). EGU has solid DII and DIII competitions, and they hit the pitch this Saturday, too.
Outside of those three regions – Midwest, NERFU, Empire – the rest of the country’s competitions follow split-season (i.e., games in the fall and spring) or spring-only formats. So one will see league games occur in the Pacific Northwest and Rocky Mountain, for example, this weekend, but those competitions will draw greater attention in the second half of the year.
For the college game, September is a burst of activity, and NIRA dominates the landscape early on. The NCAA varsity season began Sept. 1, and all the DI programs were active. DII and DIII become more prominent this weekend, though none of them are contesting conference matches just yet. Read more.
This weekend sees the first of the NCR and CRAA teams hit the pitch. The former will name national 15s champions for DI, DII and Small College in December; and the latter will name a seasonal champ end of year as well. See the scores page for more info.
In high school, Michigan and Wisconsin will start contesting 15s games this month and name state champs later in the fall. Idaho kicked off its West Ada school district 7s on Sept. 6 (JV), and the varsity teams follow this weekend. Iowa will start holding its school-supported 7s season next weekend. Lots of states have fall 7s seasons that begin this month – Washington, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, NorCal single-school, among others – while others will field a tighter season in October.