GREENSBORO, NC – The United States Naval Academy’s men’s rugby team has joined the Atlantic Coast Rugby League effective immediately, league commissioner Patrick Kane announced today.
Navy will play in this fall’s Atlantic Coast Rugby Sevens Championship and compete in the ACRL beginning with the spring 2013 conference 15s season. The addition of Navy to the ACRL will keep the conference at eight teams, as Georgia Tech voluntarily terminated its membership in the conference following the 2012 conference season.
The inclusion of Navy in the ACRL is significant, as it marks the first time that a team from a school not in the Atlantic Coast Conference has been admitted to the now three-year-old league.
Said Kane of the inclusion of the Midshipmen, “While we founded this conference to be the rugby analog to the ACC, adding the United States Naval Academy to our membership was really a no-brainer. They have a tremendous rugby history, great support from their university, and most importantly they are a perfect fit for our conference’s geographic and academic footprint.
"There are very few teams from non-ACC schools that I think we would even consider opening the door for, but Navy was certainly one of them.”
Navy comes to the ACRL after two years in the College Premier Division/Division
1-A, where they made the quarterfinals in 2011 and barely missed out on a playoff berth in 2012. However, uncertainty with the direction of that competition led Navy’s administration to look at other options.
“The Atlantic Coast Rugby League was an incredibly attractive opportunity for us,” said Navy’s
long-time head coach Mike Flanagan. “The conference is comprised of teams from like-minded and similarly situated academic institutions and we are excited to begin, and in some cases rekindle, rivalries on the rugby field with these schools.”
With the addition of Navy and the departure of Georgia Tech, the ACRL immediately becomes a much more competitive conference from top to bottom, as Georgia Tech had won only one conference game in two years.
“We are disappointed to see Georgia Tech leave, but we understand that they need to do what they feel best for their program,” said Kane. “They will still be heavily involved with our Atlantic Coast Rugby Invitational 7s Series and will continue to compete in our 7s championship. We are hopeful that at some point they will rejoin the ACRL as a full member, competing in both 7s and 15s.”