PAC Rugby Conference joins D1A Rugby – Stanford & USC to become new members

D1A Rugby: PAC Rugby Conference joins D1A Rugby – Stanford & USC to become new members
Photo Credit: Karen Drinkwater

LAFAYETTE, Colo. – The PAC Rugby Conference will be a part of the D1A Rugby competition for the 2016-17 season. The upcoming PAC season, which will run from January through March, will be the conference’s fifth year of existence since its inaugural season in 2013.

The 2017 competitive season for the PAC not only brings change given its alignment with D1A, but growth as well. While Oregon State will not compete in the PAC Rugby Conference or D1A, Stanford University and the University of Southern California will join an incredibly competitive group of institutions that includes: Arizona, Arizona State, California, UCLA and Utah.

“The PAC Rugby Conference aspires to be among the best conferences in collegiate rugby,said UCLA Head Coach and PAC Commissioner Scott Stewart. “We have member teams which aspire to different postseasons, and feel the move to D1A will better assist some of our teams’ postseason plans.

The California Golden Bears, winners of the very first D1A National Championship in 2011, has continued their prowess in college rugby since their departure from D1A and has won the PAC title in each of the conference’s four seasons.

UCLAs continuous improvement in recent years has firmly seated the Bruins among collegiate rugbys very best. The Bruins have placed second in the PAC in three of the last four seasons.

The Wildcats are coming off a season in which they won their first playoff game in just their second year in D1A before falling to Utah in the Quarterfinals. Arizonas biggest rival, Arizona State, showed off its talent during its run to the Semifinals of the 2016 College 7s National Championships.

Utah, which played as both a member of the PAC and West Conference last season, will no longer be a member of the West now that the PAC is a D1A conference. The Utes will still contest the West schedule this fall, but will be focused on their PAC results this winter for a shot at a PAC Rugby Conference Championship.

Stanford and USC, two of the oldest West Coast collegiate programs represent the PAC’s up-and-coming teams. Both teams have gone through recent coaching changes, and all signs are pointing in the right direction. Stanford will play less than a full schedule and will participate as an affiliate member while continuing to compete in the D1AA’s Pacific Western Conference. USC, a playoff team from last season, will play a full schedule versus all of the member teams getting them both of to a great start.

Stewart noted, “We are excited that both Stanford University and USC will be joining the PAC and look forward to assisting with their long-term development through some creative scheduling and the sharing of best practices for the overall improvement of PAC Rugby. Stanford has one of the richest histories in collegiate rugby, to say nothing of the best facilities in the country.”

California and UCLA will get an opportunity to size one another up at the Dennis Storer Classic “All Cal Tournament” January 14-15 in Los Angeles where the Bears and Bruins will compete in the annual event. PAC Rugby action officially kicks off the following weekend when the Wildcats visit the Golden Bears at Witter Rugby Field in Strawberry Canyon, and the Sun Devils host the Bruins in Tempe, Saturday, Jan. 21.

The PAC Rugby Sevens Championship will move to the University of Arizona for the first time after being hosted for the previous five years in the Golden State. The Pima County Kino Sports Complex will be the host site November 12-13 of the event and the majority of the NCAA’s Pac-12 member universities will be in attendance, competing for Conference title in rugby’s Olympic code. Colorado won the inaugural event at Stanford University in 2011 and since then California has won the last four events hosted at both UCLA and at the University of California in Berkeley.