The women’s DI and DII college sphere is hosting seven conference championships this weekend. When that final whistle sounds on Sunday, USA Rugby will sort out the rest of the at-large bids and match-ups at nationals.
In division one, the Ivy League, Mason Dixon and South conferences will name their champions. Each are guaranteed one seed to nationals, and the Ivy and Mason Dixon leagues will very likely receive additional seeds.
Top-ranked Ivy Leaguer Brown is favored over Dartmouth on Saturday's semis, while the Princeton v Radcliffe bout should be the game of the weekend. Assuming the conference receives two spots to nationals, day-one winners will move onto the Round of 16.
Arguably the two best teams in Mason Dixon – Navy and Virginia Women’s Rugby – will play each other on Saturday, while West Chester and James Madison (which posted an upset win over North Carolina in the quarterfinals) go at it in the other semifinal. It would be no surprise if the conference received three seeds to nationals, so that third-place game on Sunday should be treated equally as important as the final.
Although, if the aforementioned occurs, then it’s very possible that the South will only receive their one seed. Florida State plays Georgia Tech, while Central Florida takes on Tennessee in the final four.
The southern region will be the busiest section of the country in two days’ time, as three DII conferences will be contesting their championships. The True South will host a three-team round robin to determine their Round of 32 representative, and either Lee University, Middle Tennessee State or Tennessee-Chattanooga will bear that honor. In Rugby South, the winners of Emory v Florida Atlantic, and North Georgia v Florida International will advance to the conference final. And in the Carolinas, a winner-take-all match is set for the College of Charleston and Appalachian State, two of the strongest teams in the South.
Southern California will also name their (possibly two) representatives to the Round of 32 this weekend, although the championship was almost cancelled.
“At the beginning of last week, we thought SoCal had one seed to send to Stanford like last year,” CSUN assistant coach Adriana Conrad-Forest said. “The league decided to have playoffs with the top four teams, and the first-place team would head to Stanford. Last week I talked with the Humboldt coach, and she told me they were playing the top SoCal team [in the Round of 32], which was later confirmed by USA Rugby. The SoCal league had a vote to change things around, to give the team a break before Stanford, but a team voted no.”
The addition of the Round of 32 has made some of the teams balk, as whoever finishes second might have to travel to Utah Valley. So the top finisher at the end of league, CSU Northridge, will actually play the #6 team, USC, since #4 and #5 teams (CSU Riverside and UC Irvine) dropped out of playoffs. Number-two finisher CSU Long Beach will play #3 CSU Fullerton in the other semifinal.
Stay tuned for updates and scores this weekend.
Conference Championships - March 30-31
Brown v Dartmouth
Princeton v Radcliffe
West Chester v James Madison
Virginia Women's Rugby v Navy
Florida State v Georgia Tech
Central Florida v Tennessee
Round Robin: Tennessee-Chattanooga, Lee University, Middle Tennessee State
Emory v Florida Atlantic
North Georgia v Florida International
College of Charleston v Appalachian State
CSU Northridge v Univ Southern California
CSU Long Beach v CSU Fullerton