Established in 1975, USA Rugby is the governing body of rugby in the USA and a Full Sport Member of the United States Olympic Committee. Headquartered in Lafayette, Colorado, USA Rugby is responsible for development on all levels and has in excess of 120,000 active members across the youth, High School, College and Senior level.
USA Rugby oversees four national teams, multiple collegiate and High School All-American sides, and an emerging Olympic development pathway for elite athletes. It also hosts more than 30 national playoff and championship events each year as a service to its members. In 2018, USA Rugby welcomed the world for Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco, the first-ever Rugby World Cup hosted on American soil. With more than 100,000 spectators, the tournament broke numerous American attendance records and has served as a platform for the game's future development.
Division 1A (D1A) is the elite collegiate rugby competition at University level in the USA and is governed directly by USA Rugby (not the NCAA like other sporting codes) and have begun rebranding as The Collegiate Rugby Association of America (CRAA) and aim to provide a home to the D1A and expand to include any and all college divisions and competitions, while allowing those divisions or other conferences to govern themselves.
The D1A conference-based league currently features 67 elite men’s college rugby teams competing in eight conferences: Big Ten, California, East, Mid-South, PAC, Red River, West, Liberty and two Independent teams. The regular season sees all teams in the conference play each other, with the league's 16 highest ranked teams qualifying for the postseason in East and West regions. Playoffs involve four single-elimination rounds of matches leading up to the D1A National Championship match, which takes place in early May.
Growth In College Rugby
In recent years college rugby had substantial growth in the US, most college rugby programs are student-run clubs with expenses covered by dues and fees paid by players, occasionally offset by access to school training facilities and equipment. However, there are a growing number of rugby scholarship opportunities and scholarships are available for both male and female players.
The first main factor contributing to the growth is that Major League Rugby (the professional rugby league in the USA, like the NFL & NBA) announced its first-ever Collegiate Draft to be held on June 13 and 14, 2020. The move represents another positive step for the growing Major League Rugby as it builds towards its fourth season in 2021.
The second factor is that over recent years, more and more college rugby programs are moving from club sides to funded varsity programs, with scholarship money available to recruit prospective players. Collegiate rugby has a rich history in the United States with over 900 active teams across the country. The immense talent in Colleges and Universities has shown itself over the past five seasons and is only poised to grow.
Thirdly, The Collegiate Rugby Association of America (CRAA) and Lax United Marketing, LLC (LUM) have agreed on an extraordinary three-year deal to bring D1A College Rugby to a massive television and digital audience. Lax United Marketing, via the brand FTF “For the Fans” will broadcast a minimum of 50 D1A rugby games per season over the course of the deal between the 2019-2022 seasons.
Rugby Recruiting Tips
All blogs are written by former student-athletes. If you would like to learn more, please leave a comment below and the author will respond to your questions.