2017 D1A Rugby Playoff field unveiled

D1A Rugby: 2017 D1A Rugby Playoff field unveiled
Photo Credit: Connie Hatfield (left), Karen Drinkwater (middle) & Norma Salinas (right)

LAFAYETTE, Colo. – The 2017 D1A Rugby Playoff field and Saturday, April 15, opening round matches have been determined. The postseason competition, beginning with the opening round and followed by April 22 Quarterfinals and April 29 Semifinals, will decide which two schools will play for the May 6 D1A Rugby National Championship at Saint Mary’s College in a match that will be televised live on CBS Sports Network.

The four highest ranked teams to accept bids to the D1A Rugby Playoffs have been given a bye and will host Quarterfinal fixtures April 22: Saint Mary’s (California), Life (Mid-South), Indiana (Big Ten Universities) and Baylor (Red River). PAC Rugby Conference champion Cal will not participate in the playoffs, while No. 18 Air Force finished the season two spots behind Baylor, and will host an opening round match as the lowest ranked conference champion.

One opening round contest will see two of D1A Rugby’s hottest teams go head to head when No. 11 Utah travels to Southern California to challenge No. 9 San Diego State. After a fall season in which the Utes utilized many of the less experienced players, they have come on very strong as of late. The PAC Conference representative nearly cracked the top 10 of Canterbury’s weekly rankings thanks to its most recent win – a 53-3 hammering of Arizona.

San Diego State, meanwhile, finished second behind top-ranked Saint Mary’s in the California Conference and earned impressive nonconference wins against No. 14 Arizona and No. 10 Army. The Aztecs are in good form heading into the playoffs as proof from the positive results during an international tour to Georgia, as well as their recent 41-14 win on the road against Cal Poly. The winning side between San Diego State and Utah will play Saint Mary’s April 22 on the campus of the No. 1-ranked Gaels.

Another opening round bout will pit two teams that reached the 2016 D1A Rugby Quarterfinals – Air Force and Arizona. The Zoomies fell to Saint Mary’s after knocking out Cal Poly during the 2016 postseason, and returned to action this fall by winning the West Conference. The Wildcats picked up their first D1A Playoff win over LSU in Baton Rouge last April before succumbing to Utah in the Quarterfinals. Both Air Force and Arizona will have hopes of advancing to a second consecutive National Quarterfinal at Baylor University when they meet April 15 at the United State Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

In a unique coincidence, two April 8 matches involving D1A teams – Davenport versus Lindenwood and BYU versus Colorado State – were scheduled to repeat themselves as opening round playoff fixtures. Instead, the four programs involved decided to use the April 8 outcomes as opening round contests. As a result, BYU moves on to the Quarterfinals after the Cougars thrashed the Rams, 93-3, as is Lindenwood. The Lions traveled to Michigan and soundly defeated Davenport, 36-14.

Advancement into the Quarterfinals of the D1A Rugby Playoffs will see BYU traveling to Indiana to play the Hoosiers, while Lindenwood will be tasked with taking on Life in Marietta, Ga.

“As it turned out, two of our first round matchups were already competing against each other the previous weekend,” explained D1A Rugby Commissioner Kevin Battle. “Being sensitive to travel costs, the teams involved agreed to let these past weekend’s matches serve as their opening round playoff game.”

The four conference champions deserving of an opening round bye will host their April 22 Quarterfinal and the two highest remaining teams will play hosts for the April 29 Semifinals.

The two teams that can successfully navigate beyond the Semifinals will book their place at the May 6 D1A Rugby National Championship and a global spotlight provided by CBS Sports Network. The May 6 National Championship event is schedule to kick off at 4 p.m. PT.

April 15 Opening Round

BYU 93 – 3 Colorado State (4/8)
Lindenwood 36 – 14 Davenport (4/8)
Utah @ San Diego State
Arizona @ Air Force

April 22 Quarterfinals

Game #5 SDSU/Utah @ Saint Mary’s
Game #6 Air Force/Arizona @ Baylor
Game #7 BYU @ Indiana
Game #8 Lindenwood @ Life

April 29 Semifinals

Winner Game #5 vs. Winner Game #6
Winner Game #7 vs. Winner Game #8

May 6 D1A Rugby National Championship

Saint Mary’s College | LIVE on CBS Sports | 4 p.m. PT