BOULDER, Colo. – The University of Utah Rugby program is the third team to join D1A Rugby as an Independent after unanimous approval from the competition’s six conferences.
The Utes’ interest in joining college rugby’s elite competition was met with enthusiasm by D1A Rugby Commissioner Kevin Battle, who was determined to get the storied program back in National Championship contention.
“The University of Utah has a long-standing and proud rugby tradition, and we are happy to welcome them back to our competition and the National Championship Series pathway,” said Battle. “Being an Independent, Utah will have to compete for one of the few coveted at-large Playoff spots, but I’m sure Coach [Mark] Drown and his men will be up for the challenge.”
Playing in the PAC Rugby Conference, Utah has a daunting schedule that includes fellow Independents Arizona and Oregon State. Outside of their conference schedule, the Utes will play two matches against in-state rival BYU, the first matchup taking place Saturday, Jan. 23.
The team’s success over the last few decades can be credited in part to terrific organization, the ability to pull student-athletes from the impressive high school programs in the state of Utah, and a number of influential players who have come through the program – including current Men’s Eagles players John Cullen, Matekitonga Moeakiola, and Thretton Palamo.
The Utes are no stranger to college rugby’s national stage having played in the National Championship Final in 2002, and reaching the National Semifinal as recently as 2011.
In 2015, the boys from Salt Lake City have already challenged themselves against D1A’s reigning National Champion Saint Mary’s, which concluded in an 81-15 losing effort. Most recently, the Utes played in the PAC North Tournament, where they dominated the field to the tune of a 4-0 record and a plus-105 point differential.
To find out more about the Utah Rugby program visit its website: UofURugby.com.