The University of Mary Washington, has signed on to join the ranks of D1A, by becoming an affiliate member of the Rugby East Conference, starting fall 2019. By becoming an affiliate member, they will be only be eligible for Post Season play, by qualifying as an at-large bid.
“The guys are very ecstatic, it was a unanimous decision,” explained Mary Washington’s head coach Tyler Stephens. “Once I put it the question to the players there was not a single person hesitant.”
Mary Washington has been a force in the D1AA competition, ever since joining their ranks in 2016. In the 2017-2018 season, they won the national championship and then last season fell by one point to eventual fall champions, Bowling Green.
Joining D1A, was all part of their road map according to Stephens, albeit they’ve achieved their goal sooner than even they anticipated. It wasn’t just those in D1AA noticing their rapid ascendency, Rugby East had been keeping a close eye on them too.
“Tui [Osborne] happened to reach out… and wanted to know if we were interested in moving up,” explained Stephens.
For Osborne, it was an easy decision, as he knew their addition would only help to grow the reputation of Rugby East. “We’re excited to have Mary Washington on board, as this will strengthen competition within the conference.”
Mary Washington will be taking the place of Buffalo in Rugby East, as they shift conferences and will now compete in Liberty. As a new member of D1A, Mary Washington will receive an affiliate status. Which means they will be ineligible for automatic qualification to the playoffs, and will only make the playoffs as a wildcard/at large selection.