Division 1-A Rugby

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Division 1-A Rugby
College Premier Division Logo.png
Sport Rugby union
Formerly known as College Premier Division
Instituted 2010
Inaugural season 2011
Number of teams 45
Country United States (USA Rugby)
Holders Life University (2016)
Most titles California (26 at highest level, 1 CPD titles)
Website http://www.usarugby.org/
Broadcast partner CBSSN

Division 1-A Rugby (formerly known as the College Premier Division) is the highest level of college rugby within the United States and is administered by USA Rugby. Division 1-A rugby is modeled after NCAA athletic competitions, with the 45 D1-A rugby schools divided into seven conferences, the East, Mid-South, Western, California, Big Ten Universities, the Red River Conference, and the PAC.

The regular season sees all teams in the conference play one another, with the two top seeds qualifying for the playoffs. Playoffs are a single-elimination format, occurring each year in April and May, with the winner of D1-A declared the National Champion.[1] Regular seasons for most conferences are played in the spring, although some cold-weather conferences, such as the Big Ten Universities, play their regular season in the fall.

The competition's first season was played during 2011 and consisted of teams from 31 schools from across the United States. The first ever match of the competition was played on Friday March 4, the Arizona State Sun Devils hosted the Colorado Buffaloes at the Arizona State University Soccer Stadium in Tempe, Arizona.[2] The 2011 final was played at Rio Tinto Stadium, in Sandy, Utah, on the 21 May 2011.

D1-A Rugby secured sponsorships in 2012 with World Rugby Shop and Veloce.

Several players who have excelled in the top level competitions in college rugby have also represented their country as part of the United States national under-20 rugby union team.


History of college rugby in the U.S.[edit]

A group of British Army officers organized a game of rugby against the students of McGill University (Montreal, Canada) in 1865; the Canadians were so enamored of the game that they decided to continue to play football by the Rugby code. In 1874 McGill organized two games of football against Harvard, one was played under Harvard’s rules, the other being a game of rugby. After this game, the Harvard students also decided to adopt rugby, making them the first American institution to do so. Columbia, Princeton and Yale were persuaded by Harvard to play football according to the Rugby School code in 1876, these four colleges thus formed the Intercollegiate Football Association (IFA), an organization that eventually expanded to become the "Ivy League." In fact, the governing body of all American intercollegiate varsity sports, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) traces its roots to the IFA and is thus a product of rugby rather than any of the sports it now governs.

1920 USA Olympic Rugby Team.

By 1886 the Yale coach Walter Camp had modified rugby's rules in order to solve the problem of tackled players lying on the ball by introducing a series of four downs to gain ten yards; ironically in the same year the Rugby Football Union in England solved the same problem by requiring that tackled players release the ball. This is still one of the most fundamental differences between Rugby Union and American Football but one further modification, that of allowing one forward pass per down, was suggested by the Notre Dame coach Knute Rockne which, when accepted in 1905, gave rise to that distinctly American form of football.

1924 USA Olympic Rugby Team.

Around the turn of the century American football was being frowned upon for its violence. Publication of graphic photographs of a harsh game between Swarthmore College and the University of Pennsylvania[3] caused a stir; President Theodore Roosevelt was forced to insist upon reform or abolition of the game. During this period of uncertainty, rugby made a brief but important reappearance in many colleges, most notably at the University of California and at Stanford. It was Stanford that supplied most of the players to the two US Olympic rugby teams, along with Santa Clara University and the University of California. (1920 & 1924) who claimed fame by winning both Gold medals (as 1924 was the last time the Olympic Games staged a rugby competition, this will make the USA the defending Olympic Champions when rugby is re-introduced, after almost a century in 2016).

In 1934, there was only one official rugby body in the United States, the Eastern Rugby Union, with a total of 9 member teams. By 1950, there were 30 clubs in the US, existing only in small pockets on the East and West Coasts.

It was not until the mid-1960s that rugby began to re-appear with regular fixtures and competitions; the game suited the mildly anarchistic temperament of American College students of the period;[citation needed] it required minimal costs for the individual, the style of the game provided constant action, there was an emphasis on enjoyment rather than winning because rugby was not part of the now rigidly institutionalized athletic system that American Universities had developed. The formation of the United States of America Rugby Football Union (USARFU, now USA Rugby) in 1976 was a major organizational milestone for the sport in the USA, and by 1980 there were over 1,000 clubs nationwide.

In 2011, there were 2433 clubs in the United States with more than 88,000 registered players, approximately 40% of which are college players (about three-quarters being male and one quarter female).[4]

The 2011 CPD participants, colored by conference
Pacific gold -- West green -- Mid-South blue -- East red

Formation of Division 1-A[edit]

Prior to the formation of Division 1-A, there had been some difficulty in determining how many teams each territory would send to the Sweet 16 tournament, as the relative strengths of the rugby teams in each territory fluctuated over time, and despite the disparity in the levels of rugby, it was politically difficult to deny a union any playoff bids, even though the team that came third or fourth in a more powerful territory might be a better side. Further problems occurred because of the different competitive seasons across the continent; in the East the league season is played in the fall while in the South and West spring is the primary season, so this structure was frequently open to criticism.

Because of these issues, and to raise the level of rugby in the consciousness of the American public, USA Rugby restructured Division 1 college rugby. In 2010, several of the top college teams agreed to form the College Premier League to begin play in spring 2011.[5] USA Rugby and the top colleges believed that an elite level college rugby competition would make it easier to get college rugby onto TV and attract sponsors.[5] USA Rugby also believed that a higher level college competition would develop players to potentially play for the U.S. national team.[6]

D1-A Championships[edit]

2011 Rio Tinto Stadium Salt Lake City, UT California 21–14 BYU 11,000 ESPN3 / ESPNU Arkansas St. / Utah
2012 Rio Tinto Stadium Salt Lake City, UT BYU 49–42 Arkansas St. 8,733 ESPN3 Life University / St. Mary's
2013 UNCG Soccer Stadium Greensboro, NC Life University 16–14 St. Mary's (CA) ESPN3 / ESPNU Arkansas St. / Cal Poly
2014 Steuber Rugby Stadium Palo Alto, CA St. Mary's (CA) 21–6 Life University USA Rugby TV Arkansas St. / Lindenwood
2015 Fifth Third Bank Stadium Atlanta, GA St. Mary's (CA) 30–24 Life University ESPN3 Lindenwood / Davenport
2016 St. Mary's Stadium Bay Area, CA Life University 24–20 St. Mary's (CA) Rugby Channel Lindenwood / Utah
2017 St. Mary's Stadium Bay Area, CA St. Mary's (CA) 30–24 Life University CBSSN BYU / Arizona

Previous Division 1 Championships[edit]

The earliest claims to a national title go back to the mid-1960s when Sports Illustrated Magazine started demonstrating an interest in Collegiate rugby. During the 1965-1966 season, the University of Notre Dame won several cups and tournaments and, in the absence of a bona fide national championship, Sports Illustrated named them unofficial Collegiate Rugby Champions.[7] The next year, under the authotrity of USARFU, Notre Dame played a match on April 8, 1967 against California at Memorial Stadium for the unofficial national championship, again as a result of both teams being highly rated by Sports Illustrated; Cal won 37-3.[8]

The first official National Collegiate Championship series began in 1980. Rugby in the United States is divided into territorial unions (the Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, Northeast, Pacific Coast, the South, Southern California and the West),[a] each of these unions organise collegiate rugby into "Division One" and "Division Two" league competitions, generally with promotion and relegation between the divisions. Between 1980 and 2010 each Territory qualified Division One and Two teams for the Sweet 16 of a D1 and D2 National championship.

California was dominant in Division One for the 31 years that the competition was run in this format, winning 26 titles. Air Force has won three titles; San Diego State and Brigham Young University have each won one D1 national championship.[9]

1980 Davenport, IA California 15-9 Air Force Illinois Navy
1981 Dayton, OH California 6-3 OT Harvard Miami (OH) Kansas St.
1982 Greeley, CO California 15-14 Life College Michigan New Mexico St.
1983 Athens, GA California 13-3 Air Force Navy Illinois
1984 Pebble Beach, CA Harvard 12-4 Colorado Long Beach St. Miami (OH)
1985 Pebble Beach, CA California 31-6 Maryland Colorado Illinois
1986 Pebble Beach, CA California 6-4 Dartmouth Air Force Bowling Green
1987 Pebble Beach, CA San Diego State 10-9 Air Force Bowling Green Dartmouth
1988 Pebble Beach, CA California 9-3 Dartmouth Air Force Bowling Green
1989 Colorado Springs, CO Air Force 25-7 Penn State Army Long Beach St.
1990 Pebble Beach, CA Air Force 18-12 Army Ohio State Long Beach St.
1991 Houston, TX California 20-14 Army Ohio State Wyoming
1992 Colorado Springs, CO California 27-17 Army Air Force Penn State
1993 Houston, TX California 36-6 Air Force Harvard Wisconsin
1994 Washington, DC California 27-13 Navy Air Force Penn State
1995 Berkeley, CA California 48-16 Air Force Penn State Army
1996 Colorado Springs, CO California 47-6 Penn State Stanford Navy
1997 Berkeley, CA California 41-15 Penn State UC Davis Stanford
1998 San Francisco, CA California 34-15 Stanford Navy Indiana Univ.
1999 San Francisco, CA California 36-5 Penn State Navy Army
2000 Tampa Bay, FL California 62-16 Wyoming Army Indiana Univ.
2001 Virginia Beach, VA California 86-11 Penn State Navy Army
2002 Virginia Beach, VA California 43-22 Utah Army Wyoming
2003 Stanford, CA Air Force 45-37 Harvard California Army
2004 Stanford, CA California 46-24 Cal Poly, SLO Navy / Air Force
2005 Stanford, CA California 44-7 Utah BYU / Navy
2006 Stanford, CA California 29-26 BYU Utah / Penn State
2007 Stanford, CA California 37-7 BYU Navy / Penn State
2008 Stanford, CA California 59-7 BYU St. Mary's / Colorado
2009 Stanford, CA BYU 25-22 California Army / San Diego State
2010 Stanford, CA California 19-7 BYU Arkansas State / Army



East Conference
School NCAA Conf. City Coach Stadium Founded Joined D1-A
Army Patriot League West Point, NY Mike Mahan Anderson Complex, Warrior Field 1961 2011
Kutztown D2 – PSAC Kutztown, PA Dr. Gregg Jones Luckenbill Avenue Rugby Pitch 1984 [10] 2011
Penn State Big 10 State College, PA Don Ferrell PSU West Campus Pitch 1962[11] 2011
Wheeling Jesuit D2 – MEC Wheeling, WV Eric Jerpe James LaRossa Complex 1967 2013
St. Bonaventure A-10 St. Bonaventure, NY Clarence Picard Marra Athletics Complex 1975 2014
Iona MAAC New Rochelle, NY Bruce McLane 1977 2014
University at Buffalo MAC Buffalo, NY Mike Hodgins Ellicott Complex 1966 2014
West Virginia Big 12 Morgantown, WV Richard Glover Mylan Park 2015


Mid South Conference
School NCAA Conf. City Coach Stadium Founded Joined D1-A
Lindenwood D2 - MIAA Saint Charles, MO JD Stephenson Harlen C. Hunter Stadium 2011 2013
Life University (NAIA) Marietta (Atlanta), GA Dan Payne Life University Sports Complex 1980 2011
Davenport University (NAIA) Grand Rapids, MI Kruger Van Biljon Turf Field 2009 2012


Pacific Conference
School NCAA Conf. City Coach Stadium (capacity) Founded Joined D1-A
Cal Poly Big West San Luis Obispo, CA David Burnett Cal Poly Sports Complex 2011
Saint Mary's West Coast Conf. Moraga, CA Tim O'Brien St. Mary's Stadium (5,500) 2011
San Diego State Mountain West San Diego, CA 1956 2012
UC Santa Barbara Big West Santa Barbara, CA 2012
Santa Clara West Coast Conf. Santa Clara, CA Paul Keeler 1908; 1961 2012
UC Davis Big Sky Conference Davis, CA Andy Malpass 2016
Stanford Pac-12 Palo Alto, CA Matt Sherman Steuber Family Rugby Field 1906 2012


School NCAA Conf. City Coach Stadium Founded Joined D1-A
BYU West Coast Conf. Provo, UT David Smyth South Field 1962 2011-2012, rejoined 2017
West Conference
School NCAA Conf. City Coach Stadium Founded Joined D1-A
Colorado Pac-12 Boulder, CO Sean Edris[12] Kittredge Field (1960's) 2011
Colorado State Mountain West Fort Collins, CO Justin Mort[13] CSU Rugby Pitch 1970 2011
Wyoming Mountain West Laramie, WY Wyoming Rugby Pitch 2011
Utah State Mountain West Logan, UT Zac Root[14] USU Legacy Field 1967 2016
New Mexico Mountain West Albuquerque, NM Johnson Field 2012

Big Ten[edit]

Red River Conference[edit]


Former Teams[edit]

Former CPD / D1A Teams[15]
School/University Former Conference Joined CPD Left CPD Moved To
Claremont Pacific 2011 2011[16] Pacific Mtn. West
Dartmouth East 2011 2011[17] Ivy / Varsity Cup
LSU East 2011 2011[18] Southeastern
Tennessee West 2011 2011[19] Southeastern
Rutgers Empire 2011 2012 [20] Big-Ten
Navy Atlantic Cost 2011 2012 [21] Independent / Varsity Cup
Notre Dame Varsity Cup 2011 2012 (Big-12) / Varsity Cup
Air Force Mountain West 2011 2012 Independent / Varsity Cup
Central Washington Independent 2011 2013 Varsity Cup
Texas Allied 2012 2013 Red River / Varsity Cup
Arkansas State Mid-South 2011 2014 Varsity Cup

2011 season[edit]

Notable events[edit]

  • First Season of the College Premier Division
  • Funding for Cal Rugby, which previously was announced would be dropped,[22] was restored after additional funding was raised by donors, alumni and fans.[23]
  • Life University participated in its first playoff game in school history [24]
  • BYU hosted its first rugby playoff game in club history.[25]
  • BYU and California played for the national championship for the 6th consecutive year (2006-10 in USA Rugby Collegiate Tournament, 2011 USA Rugby College Premier Division)

Regular season[edit]

Records and final standings for 2011.[26]

Playoffs and final[edit]

Quarterfinals (May 7–8)
@Higher Seed
Semi-Finals (May 14)
Infinity Park, Glendale, CO
Championship (May 21)
Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy, UT
W1 Brigham Young 64
E2 Navy 12
W1 Brigham Young 36
MS1 Arkansas State 15
MS1 Arkansas State 30
PC2 St. Mary's (CA) 17
W1 Brigham Young 14
PC1 California 21
PC1 California 43
MS2 Life University 10
PC1 California 62
W2 Utah 14
E1 Army 26
W2 Utah 32

After the season[edit]

2012 season[edit]

Regular season[edit]

Records and final standings for 2012.[27]

x-Conference champion
y-Qualified for playoffs

Playoffs and final[edit]

Quarterfinals (May 5)
@Higher Seed
Semi-Finals (May 12)
Location determined by Quarterfinal results
Championship (May 19)
Rio Tinto Stadium; Sandy, UT
W1 Brigham Young 103
W1 Brigham Young 26
MS1 Life University 20
MS1 Life University 75
E2 Penn State 3
W1 Brigham Young 49
MS2 Arkansas State 42
E1 Army 20
MS2 Arkansas State 36
MS2 Arkansas State 31
PC1 Saint Mary's 17
PC1 Saint Mary's 24
W2 Utah 15

After the season[edit]

  • Nine schools from the Big-10 joined Ohio State in D1-A and formed the Big Ten Universities conference.
  • Texas A&M and Oklahoma were joined by several other Texas schools to form the Allied Rugby Conference, composed mostly of Big-12 South schools.
  • The Pacific Coast Conference was renamed the California Conference, several former D1-AA California schools were promoted to this conference, and Central Washington became an independent D1-A school.
  • D1-AA champion Davenport was promoted to D1-A and joined the Mid-South Conference.
  • UCLA, Utah, Arizona and Arizona State moved from their respective past conferences to the newly formed D1-A PAC Rugby Conference.
  • BYU moved from Division 1A to the D1-AA Mountain States Conference; Navy moved from D1-A to the Atlantic Coast Rugby League; and Rutgers moved from D1-A to the Empire Rugby Conference.

2013 season[edit]

x = conference champion and automatic quarterfinal berth
y = conference runner-up and eligible for playoffs
z = conference champion and eligible for playoffs

Playoffs and final[edit]

Quarterfinals (April 27)
@ Higher Seed
Semi-Finals (May 4)
@ Higher Seed
Final (May 18)
Greensboro, NC
Cal1 St. Mary's 65
W2 Colorado 25
Cal1 St. Mary's 58
Cal2 Cal Poly 24
W1 Colorado State 19
Cal2 Cal Poly 40
Cal1 St. Mary's 14
M/S2 Life University 16
M/S1 Arkansas State 31
East2 Kutztown 10
M/S1 Arkansas State 13
M/S2 Life University 18
East1 Army 29
M/S2 Life University 55

After the season[edit]

2014 (spring)[edit]

Regular season[edit]

Playoffs and final[edit]

Quarterfinals (April 26)
@ Higher Seed
Semifinals (May 3)
@ Higher Seed
Final (May 10)
Stanford, CA
USA Rugby TV
St. Mary's 103
Santa Clara 10
St. Mary's 72
Lindenwood 7
Lindenwood 64
Davenport 32
St. Mary's 21
Life University 6
Arkansas State 43
Cal Poly SLO 12
Arkansas State 27
Life University 34
Life University 57
Colorado 3

After the season[edit]


For the 2014–2015 school year, a number of conferences — particularly those in the colder northeast and upper midwest — played their regular seasons in the fall.

Playoffs and final[edit]

Quarterfinals (April 25) Semifinals (May 2) Final (May 9)
M1 Life 64
E2 Penn State 3
M1 Life 43
M3 Lindenwood 14
W1 Air Force 12
M3 Lindenwood 59
M1 Life 24
C1 St. Mary's 30
E1 Army 24
M2 Davenport 50
M2 Davenport 32
C1 St. Mary's 48
C1 St. Mary's 72
Utah 26


Quarterfinals Semifinals Final
1 St. Mary's (CA) 77
Air Force 17
St. Mary's (CA) 81
Utah 32
4 Utah 36
Arizona 14
St. Mary's (CA) 20
Life Univ 24
2 Life Univ 44
Davenport 0
Life Univ. 41
Lindenwood 7
3 Lindenwood 36
Indiana 28



  • Green shading indicates the highest-ranked team to debut in the rankings that year. Silver shading indicates the team that increased the largest number of places in the rankings that year.
  • 2012: Cal was not included in the D1A rankings because it withdrew from D1A mid-season.
  • 2013: Utah was not ranked because its rugby program was suspended by the school. Central Florida, and Bowling Green were new to the rankings; they had been ranked #17 and #19 respectively in D1-AA during the previous 2012 season.
  • 2014: Army was ranked low, due in large part to the team's suspension during the season.
Final 2016 (All College)[32]
Rank College
1 California
2 Life University
4 Central Washington
5 St. Mary's
6 Lindenwood
7 Arkansas State
8 Indiana
9 Army
10 Navy
11 Dartmouth
12 Penn State
13 Kutztown
15 Utah
16 UC Davis
17 Notre Dame College
18 Davenport
19 AIC
20 Arizona

See also[edit]


a. ^ There are also four independent State Unions (Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho and Montana).[33]


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