National Collegiate Rugby COVID-19 UPDATE

Issued Tuesday May 26, 2020

NCR is working hard to make sure everything’s ready when play returns, including having insurance for players, coaches, and referees, competitions ready to go, and venues selected.  Remember: referees are covered for free under NCR’s insurance plan.  Like you, NCR is monitoring decisions from the state and federal government on reopening.  Once reopening occurs NCR will be putting together a best practices summary specific to the sport of rugby and reporting on decisions from its member institutions.

For collegiate rugby, the primary source of what will be permitted along with related safety/health protocols will be driven by the school itself in concert with its state and federal guidelines. World Rugby guidelines may supplement what is mandated by university and college officials in conjunction with government standards, but they cannot supersede them.

NCR will fully respect and comply with all school decisions in this matter.

The American College Health Association has put forth a comprehensive guidance that addresses facilities, practice, personnel, emergency care and planning to assist in deciding if a college can safely bring back athletes and students to campus. This guide is an excellent resource for understanding the areas of consideration for players, administrators, and coaches, though individual institutions and athletic conferences will make the final determinations on the return to rugby as they govern practice facilities

If you have questions regarding NCR’s policy on return to play, please contact us at

Other valuable resources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


The National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association

World Rugby return to play update

World Rugby Covid-19 Courses

National Federation of State High School Associations

Southeastern Conference

Brad Dufek to Lead the New Men’s Open Division

Following the commitment of ten D2 conferences, National Collegiate Rugby (NCR) is proud to announce a new Men’s Open Division that will introduce a new men’s Open National Championship pathway starting in the Fall of 2020. Brad Dufek has been appointed as the Men’s Open Division Commissioner.

Many of these conferences are already participating in NCR’s small college competition with just the Gateway and Great Midwest Conferences joining for the first time as well as the newly formed Allegheny Rugby Union’s DII league. With 75 men’s Open Division teams from across the country, the Open Division conferences joining NCR at this time are:

  • Allegheny Rugby Union
  • Cardinals Collegiate Rugby Conference
  • Deep South Collegiate Rugby Conference
  • Gateway Collegiate Rugby Conference
  • Great Lakes Collegiate Rugby Conference
  • Great Midwest Collegiate Rugby Conference
  • Mid-Atlantic Rugby Conference
  • Midwest College Rugby Conference
  • Northern Lights Conference
  • Southern Rugby Conference

Dufek, a USA L300 coach just completed his fifth season as an assistant coach with the Quinnipiac women’s rugby team in 2019/20, after helping the Bobcats earn NCAA national titles in his first three seasons with the program. In addition to his time at QU, he assists with the Yale University Men’s program, the New Haven RFC Men’s senior side, and coaches with the Rebel Rugby Academy High School Boys program.

Brad stated that “I feel incredibly fortunate to lead NCR’s newly formed men’s division. NCR truly has the best interest of the collegiate rugby student athlete at the top of their priority list and I will only look to help maintain and improve that experience.”

Dufek will work with the Open Division commissioners to establish a competitions committee which will guide the new structure as well as planning the playoffs leading to a national championship scheduled for December 5-6. The new division will largely consist of current Division 2 teams—from both large and small schools— as well as teams from the current small college division. NCR’s Small College Champions Cup and Challenge Cup competitions will not be affected.

NCR CEO, Steve Cohen commented: “The Open Division is a natural evolution for our organization. We are excited to welcome these prestigious rugby conferences and pleased to have someone of Brad’s caliber leading the competition. We will continue to provide the same level of services to our small colleges while increasing our overall scale benefits, championship pathways, and access to venues.”

The introduction of the Open Division is one part of NCR’s expanded strategic plan. NCR recently announced that it has confirmed general liability and personal accident insurance coverage for its members. The organization will also introduce a new registration and competition management platform, and expand it’s staffing model prior to the 2020 season.

Illinois Women’s Rugby Conference joins NCR

The Illinois Women’s Rugby Conference is proud to announce they are joining NCR for the Fall 2020 season. The five current D2 teams will compete in the newly formed Women’s Open Division this fall.

Northern Illinois University
Illinois State University
Southern Illinois University
University of Illinois
University of Southern Indiana
Western Illinois University

For more information on the conference comtact:
Shawn McKinney

Great Waters Women’s Rugby Conference joins NCR


The Great Waters Women’s Rugby Conference is proud to announce they are joining the NCR organization. The 15 conference members will be competing this fall in both the new women’s open competition and the NCR small college women’s competition.

Great Waters organized as an independent D2 conference in January 2012 with nine core teams in Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. In 2014 five Chicago area teams joined the conference followed by Michigan Tech in 2018. The Conference has evolved into a mix of ten D2 schools and five NCR teams.

NCR aligns with the Great Waters Women’s Rugby Conference’s values on promoting and growing women’s college rugby, raising the status of college rugby within our university administrations, and providing the best possible experience for our student athletes.

The fifteen member schools voted unanimously at the Spring February 2020 Conference AGM to make the move.

DePaul University
Loyola University
Marquette University
Michigan Technological University
Northern Michigan University
Northwestern University
University of Chicago
University of Illinois at Chicago
University of Wisconsin Eau Claire
University of Wisconsin La Crosse
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
University of Wisconsin Platteville
University of Wisconsin Stevens Point
University of Wisconsin Stout
University of Wisconsin Whitewater

Great Waters Women’s Rugby Conference

“College women’s rugby… it’s all we do.”

Northern Lights D2 Men and Women Join NCR

The Northern Lights Conference is pleased to announce their commitment to joining the new National Collegiate Rugby (NCR) Open Division for its men’s and women’s D2 clubs beginning in Fall 2020. The Northern Lights Conference was formed in 2012 as the collegiate arm of the Minnesota Rugby Union. It includes 31 men’s and women’s teams competing at both the Small College and Division 2 levels.

This decision was overwhelmingly supported by a vote of collegiate membership after a task force, appointed by the Minnesota Union, engaged and interviewed multiple organizations in order to present side-by-side comparisons of their offerings at a collegiate meeting earlier this week.

“Our task force was committed to doing our due diligence and presenting all options to our teams as objectively as possible. In the end, NCR stood out as the organization with the most comprehensive plan that would allow our teams to play on a competitive national pathway without significant disruption in our seasonality or hybrid format” said Greg White, Men’s Commissioner. “The move to NCR is the best fit for all of our teams at this time”, Women’s Commissioner Rachel Hill adds, “We are excited where this move will take us.”

The Northern Lights membership includes:

Men’s Division 2 Women’s Division 2

Minnesota State University Mankato Minnesota State University Mankato

Minnesota State University Moorhead University of Minnesota Duluth

North Dakota State University North Dakota State University

South Dakota State University St. Cloud State University

St. Cloud State University University of North Dakota

University of North Dakota Winona State University

Winona State University

Men’s Small College Division Women’s Small College Division

Bemidji State University Bemidji State University

Carleton College Carleton College

Gustavus Adolphus College Gustavus Adolphus College

Macalester College Macalester College

St. John’s University College of Saint Benedict

St. Olaf College St. Olaf College

College of St. Scholastica College of St. Scholastica

University of St. Thomas Minnesota State University Moorhead

Southwest State University (Dev)

University of Minnesota Morris (Dev)

Southern Rugby Conference D2 Teams Join NCR

The Southern Rugby Conference is pleased to announce their commitment to the National Collegiate Rugby (NCR) Open Division D2 Competition beginning Fall 2020. The SRC was created and Founded in January, 2011 in accordance with USA Rugby’s College restructuring initiative. Member teams have captured state, regional, and national championships. Two teams – Furman and Coastal Carolina – have collected a combined four small college national championships. At the AGM the vote was overwhelming in favor of the conference making the move.

“We look forward to our D2 teams joining our current NCR teams in competing in what has proven over the years to be a very successfully run organization. The NCR’s commitment over the years to promoting the college game, as well as their new focus on bringing in D2 conferences were the determining factors in our decision. We know that this is a trying time for rugby as many conferences and teams are looking for a new home with the difficulties that USA Rugby has been having. NCR has decided to take on hosting competitions for Division 2 teams this coming up fall, and as a conference we understand this is no small undertaking. We are excited to help them in any way we can, and look forward to what should be a great partnership going forward.”

When asked about the Southern CRC commitment to NCR, Tommy Duffy Conference Commissioner commented, “The SRC is excited to embark and be part of this newly formed pathway for Collegiate Rugby.”

The current Division 2 teams include:
Appalachian State University
The Citadel
East Carolina University
Furman University
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
University of North Carolina Charlotte
University of North Carolina Wilmington

The current Small College teams include:
Campbell University
Coastal Carolina University
College of Charleston
Elon University
Lander University
University of North Carolina Greensboro
Wake Forest University

Tommy explained “The tradition of the Southern Rugby Conference has been about college rugby and advancing this great game. It’s also about putting out high quality collegiate rugby competition. The SRC teams have been represented year in and year out in the national conversation as we put forth some of the nation’s best Division 2 & Small College teams. We are so happy for this great partnership.”

Photo shown is the UNC Wilmington RFC.

D2 Great Midwest Rugby Conference Commits to Joining NCR

The Great Midwest Rugby Conference is pleased to announce their commitment to the NCR Open Division D2 Competition beginning Fall 2020. The Great Midwest was created in 2012 and it prides itself on being one of the deepest in D2, having sent three teams to the 15s playoffs each of the past four years, with UW-Whitewater winning both the 15s and 7s National Championships in 2017.

When asked about the Great Midwest’s commitment to NCR, Commissioner Todd Streeter commented “We are excited for the opportunity to compete against the best in D2, under an organization whose ethos more closely aligns with our conference mission to support collegiate rugby players and teams.”

The Great Midwest currently has 14 men’s teams spread across Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Iowa, and Minnesota.

  • DePaul University
  • Illinois State University
  • Loyola University Chicago
  • Marquette University
  • Northern Illinois University
  • Northern Michigan University
  • Northwestern University
  • University of Illinois-Chicago
  • University of Minnesota-Duluth
  • University of Northern Iowa
  • University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  • University of Wisconsin-Platteville
  • University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
  • Western Illinois University

Todd explained “NCR agreed to provide a home for D2 Collegiate Men’s rugby that mirrored and even expanded on the historical success that has been built since the first Fall National Championship in 2013. We’re really looking forward to engaging all the additional benefits in NCR student and club leadership support, National Club Rankings, All-American recognition, Heart and Soul Awards, coaches’ polls, robust playoff venues, a National All-Star competition and partnerships with companies such as the Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company and Rhino Rugby.”

Photo shown is Illinois State University, 2019 Great Midwest CRC Champion.

Plan For The Future Of Collegiate Rugby – NSCRO Statement

These are difficult times for the world we live in and also for rugby in our country.

We at NSCRO want to assure the collegiate rugby community that we are financially strong and have the funding to continue implementing our new independent operating model and make appropriate investments on behalf of our members. We will be ready for rugby in the Fall.


  • We have obtained a proposal for general liability insurance and personal accident insurance coverage.
  • We will utilize SportLoMo as our new membership platform and competition management system. As part of the implementation, we will also be launching a new website for our members.
  • We are pleased to announce that Lucy Zugschwert has joined the NSCRO team to implement our membership services model and the SportLoMo platform. As the former USA Rugby Membership Services and Database Manager, Lucy is well known to the rugby community and we are excited to add her expertise to our team.
  • We are actively speaking with conferences about our new divisions, which includes both small and large schools. NSCRO has the experience and capacity to welcome conferences and teams that may need a new home in the Fall.
  • As we expand our services to include a larger segment of the collegiate rugby community, we will be rebranding the organization. In the near future we will change our name to the National Collegiate Rugby Organization (NCRO) in order to more accurately reflect the community we represent.
  • We continue to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the sporting community. While it’s too early to understand any potential impact on next season, we will be guided by our members’ universities and other national sporting organizations.

We want to wish all of our members and their families well during these difficult times. We hope to see you on a rugby pitch soon.

Yours in rugby,

Steve Cohen
President and CEO