The DI-AA field appears to be set, with 14 conferences and two independent teams identified. The independent teams are East Carolina and Wheeling Jesuit.
This is the first year teams at Football Bowl Subdivision schools must play DI rugby to be eligible for the postseason without a waiver, prompting ECU’s move to DI. And Wheeling Jesuit, after being denied entry into both the MAC Schools and Keystone conferences, will compete as an independent.
Independents are eligible for an at-large berth as long as they play six games against DI-AA competition.
The number of conferences stays static from last season, but three new leagues have formed: MAC Schools, PAC and the Pacific Western.
There are 12 conferences eligible for an automatic bid to the Sweet 16. The PAC and Southwest fall shy of the requisite seven member teams needed for an automatic bid, so if one of their teams is to make it to the postseason, it will have to receive an at-large berth from the College Competitions Committee.
There are still some conferences who have second sides competing in them, like the Southwest has Texas’ seconds and the South Independent has Arkansas State’s and Life’s seconds. Those teams are not eligible for the DI-AA postseason. Texas actually gives the Southwest seven teams, but DI-A second sides don’t count towards the seven needed for an automatic bid.
In a unique case, American International College is not eligible for the East Coast’s automatic bid to Nationals in either 7s or 15s per an agreement between AIC and the conference. The East Coast’s acceptance of AIC, which competed in DII last year, was contingent on that issue. However, AIC is eligible for an at-large berth.
One of the late-summer moves was Iowa State joining the Heart of America. The creation of the Big Ten Universities, and its being exclusive to Big Ten-only schools, left the old Midwest and Mideast leagues in shambles and some teams needing to find a new league. Some went DII, like UW-Stout and UNI, while Iowa State went South. The Heart of America now has five members of the NCAA’s old Big Eight conference in Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri and Oklahoma State.
Another relatively late move saw Baylor leave the Southwest for DI-A’s Allied Rugby Conference. Baylor, which finished dead last in the Southwest a year ago, made the move after a coaching change.
|North Carolina||Harvard||Oregon State|
|East Coast||Keystone||Pacific Mountain West|
|American Int’l College*||Pitt||U. San Diego|
|Boston College||St. Joe’s||USC|
|Middlebury||West Chester||Long Beach|
|Northeastern||West Virginia||Santa Barbara CC|
|Southern Connecticut||UC San Diego|
|EMPIRE||MAC Schools||Pacific Western|
|Army||Ball State||Chico State|
|Binghamton||Bowling Green||Fresno State|
|Brockport||Central Michigan||San Franscisco State|
|Buffalo||Cincinnati||San Jose State|
|Iona||Miami||UC Santa Cruz|
|Rutgers||Northern Illinois||Humboldt State|
|Stony Brook||Western Michigan|
|Heart of America||NCRC||South Independent|
|Iowa State||Oregon||Arkansas State|
|Kansas||U. of Washington||Georgia Southern|
|Kansas State||W. Oregon||Georgia Tech|
|Lindenwood||W. Washington||Kennesaw State|
|Oklahoma State||Boise State||Memphis|
|Truman State||E. Washington||Middle Tennessee|
|Washington State||Central Florida|
|Florida||North Texas||Wheeling Jesuit|
The inaugural 2012 Empire Conference Playoffs kicked off this weekend at Iona College in New Rochelle, NY.
The first match was between State University of New York rivals Stony Brook (No. 1 seed of the East Division) and Binghamton (No. 2 seed of the West Division).
Stony Brook got the first points on the board with a successful penalty kick by PJ Abelein. The Seawolves continued the attack with an unconverted try to bring the score to 8-0. Binghamton settled down after that and kept themselves entrenched in the Stony Brook end with their physical style of play. The half ended 12-8 in favor of Stony Brook.
Binghamton was the team that came out hot after intermission. They were able to capitalize on simultaneous yellow cards to Stony Brook players and scored 11-straight points for a 19-12 lead. With time dwindling down, Stony Brook displayed some late-game heroics for the come-from-behind 29-19 win.
In the second match, host Iona College (second seed of the East Division) played St. Bonaventure University (top seed out of the West Division).
The match started with spectacular work from the Bonnie forwards who used their methodical pick-and-go style to get down the field and into paydirt. Iona quickly rallied back with a converted try of their own. The remainder of the half was controlled by the tactical kicking and forward presence of the Bonnies. At halftime Iona found themselves in a 17-10 hole.
In the second half, St. Bonaventure continued their dominance and looked as if they put the game out of reach. To Iona’s credit, they rallied back and brought the score within four points, but the comeback bid was halted by an additional St. Bonaventure converted try, which sealed the deal, bringing the final score to 37-28 in favor of the Bonnies.
Stony Brook takes on St Bonaventure at 2pm ET Sunday for the conference title and a bid to the Sweet 16.
Stony Brook 28
Tries: Kozak (2); Abelein; Otogiakhi
Pens: Abelein (2)
Cards: Molloy; Sheridan
Tries: Haber; Palazzolo
Pens: Esposito (3)
St Bonaventure 37
Tries: Brussard; Hanna, Maurer; Meister; Brennan
Cons: McCorry (2)
Pens: McCorry (2), Raff
Tries: Kinsella (2), Cavataro, Granby
Cons: Moyo (3)