The DIA season launches this weekend, starting an eight-month journey to crowning a national champion.
Defending champs Life University won’t get started for a while. At present Life is fielding their Elite Training Group (top college and men’s players in one squad) which will take on the South All-Stars this Saturday at Life University Rugby Field.
This year 34 teams compete in six conferences, with the Big Ten starting it all off with the first two league games.
The ever-improving Michigan team takes on Purdue at Purdue, and Minnesota, under new Head Coach Rob Holder (who won a national championship with Air Force in 2003) visits Michigan State.
In a non-league game between two DIA squads, fans will see the continuation of a longtime rivalry between the Ohio Buckeyes and the Penn State Nittany Lions. Coming off the heels off a tough loss to Wisconsin in the 2013 Big Ten Championship, Ohio State started their Fall 2013 preseason with a nailbiting loss to University of Buffalo, 43-48 (a game that mirrored the OSU v UB football game on the same weekend). In their second preseason match against Vanderbilt, the Buckeyes starting A-side pulled out a convincing 65-7 win in preparation for Penn State.
Penn State has, for their part, been a little quieter in their preparation, and run onto Fred Beekman Park with only a lower-side friendly against Millersville under their belts. That was preceded by a successful camp and, before that, in June, a strong Collegiate Rugby Championship performance that ended with a tough 22-17 loss to Navy in the quarterfinals.
“We are looking to play a fast, up tempo style of attacking rugby both on attack and defense by utilizing our athleticism,” said Head Coach Don Ferrell as Penn State heads into their first D1A rugby matchup.
The game will be a solid example of what American college rugby can do, with the facilities of Fred Beekman Park in Columbus, Ohio providing the stage, and support from the Ohio State Medical Center the backdrop. Kickoff is 1pm local time.
DIA Conferences for 2013-2014:
Sam Houston State
Cal Poly SLO
San Diego State
UC Santa Barbara