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The DIAA rugby landscape remains relatively unchanged coming into this season. The conferences for the most part remain intact with a few teams moving up from DII and a few leaving for DIA.  In total, their are 10 conferences plus any independents. Like last year, DIAA will have a fall and spring championship with the winners of each facing off in for the true national championship in the spring. 

Despite most of the division remaining the same, there are several key differences. Both the fall and spring champions, Notre Dame College and UC-Davis, respectively, have elected to move to DIA. After having played each other in back-to-back DIAA finals, the field will be wide open for a new champion to be crowned.

The other notable change is that the ECRC and Empire conferences are now defunct. Most of the conference teams decided to join the Liberty Conference but AIC and NEC, both varsity programs, are playing independent schedules this fall.

Fall

Southeastern

The SCRC is a conference that is very top heavy, but with Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina and Kentucky all similar in skill set, it should prove to be a competitive conference. Last year, the SCRC did not sent a representative to USA Rugby playoffs but a couple sources indicated that the division winner will head to USA Rugby DIAA playoffs.

Chesapeake

The Chesapeake Conference was one of two teams to send two teams to the DIAA fall playoffs last year. Both Mt. St. Mary’s and James Madison were defeated in the first round of the play playoffs, leaving the conference striving for a better finish.

Mary Washington is on the rise and Salisbury and Towson will look to bounce back from weak seasons. After reigning supreme in DII for years, both former Potomac schools struggled in their first foray in DIAA.

Keystone

After winning the Keystone Conference last fall, St. Joe’s will be looking to defend its title. The conference is divided up into two divisions, east and west with St. Joe’s dominating the East last fall. Rutgers went undefeated in the East but fell to St. Joe’s in the conference finals. Rutgers will not have a chance at revenge, however, as the school has opted to move to the Liberty Conference.

The conference sees one new to team added to the fold. Rowan comes into the eastern division after a number of successful years in the DII MARC division.

The winner of this conference gets a berth to the DIAA fall playoffs.

MAC

Bowling Green has won an astounding 36 straight MAC title. The Falcons made it all the way to the DIAA fall finals before falling to Notre Dame College. BG has dominated the MAC for a sustained period but Cincinnati will be looking to upend them this year. The Wildcats also made it to the playoffs last season as an at large and gave NDC all it could handle in a mud filled game in Pittsburgh.

The rest of the conference is really chasing these two teams. Western and central Michigan along with Ohio University and Louisville will look to make some noise coming into the 2017 campaign.

SIRC

The Southern Independent Rugby Conference is divided into two divisions, the north and south. The north consists of a number of teams from Georgia and Tennessee while the south features only Florida team. This division starts conference play in the fall and wraps up action in March with the top two from each division making the conference playoffs. The winner of the conference will head to the DIAA spring playoffs.

Florida State ended up running the table last season and reaching its way to the DIAA spring finals. The Seminoles lost handily to UC-Davis but it was an impressive run for the SIRC south winners. Florida Atlantic joins the division this season and will compete alongside former DIAA champions Central Florida, among others.

Middle Tennessee State and Kennesaw State topped the north division but both lost playoff matchups to southern opponents. Both of these teams should remain atop the north and will likely head back to the playoffs.

Independent

Lindenwood-Belleville will once again play an independent fall schedule in DIAA. The Lynx are loading up with tough DIA opponents, including Indiana, Arkansas State, and Lindenwood among others. The Lynx proved to be formidable in the DIAA playoffs, giving Bowling Green a tough go of it in the fall semifinals. In the programs third year, the Lynx will have upper classmen for really the first time and could prove to be a strong team.

Both AIC and NEC had been very strong in the ECRC. Both teams are playing DIAA independent schedules but mirror DIA Conferences. Both teams are mixing in a Liberty League and Rugby East opponents, with the idea of possibly slotting into a DIA conference next year.

Spring

Ivy

The Ivy Conference plays a very unique schedule. Since some of the schools start classes so late in the fall, it is impossible for the league to fit in its entire schedule. Thus, the conference plays some games in the fall and some in the spring leading the conference to actually play in the spring DIAA playoffs.

Matters get complicated further as the standard bearer of Ivy rugby, Dartmouth, elects to play in the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup rather than the DIAA playoffs. The Big Green are looking for their 11th consecutive Ivy League title but will not send its side to the USA Rugby playoffs should they win the conference. Additionally, Harvard, who is usually in the top tier of Ivy rugby, also joined the Varsity Cup last season and will follow suit.

As a result, last year it opened the door up for Brown to take that position despite not winning the conference. Brown ultimately fell to Missouri in the DIAA quarters last spring.

Heart of America

Missouri was the class of the Heart of America last year. The rest of the conference is comprised of a number of traditional Big 12 schools, including Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State and Oklahoma State. Look for Missouri to run the table again this season.

NCRC

The Northwest Collegiate Rugby Conference featured nine teams from the Pacific Northwest last year but the University of Washington has decided to play an independent schedule this year. Washington finished third in the conference behind Western and Oregon, leaving teams like Boise State and Gonzaga the opportunity to move up.

Western Washington dominated the field last year in route to a conference title. Western narrowly lost to Grand Canyon in the quarterfinals of the spring playoffs and will be the favorites coming into 2017 once again.

Gold Coast

The Gold Coast is wide open this season thanks to the departure of Grand Canyon. The Arizona school decided to play an independent DIA schedule in 2017. Long Beach State will look to fill the void at the top. This conference is very small, consisting of five teams, including a handful of University of California schools.

Pac West

Like the Gold Coast, the Pac-West will crown a new champion. UC-Davis has dominated this conference for some time, but like Grand Canyon, will head to DIA this season. Chico State will be the early favorites to take home the title. Chico was the only team besides NDC to beat Davis last year. CSU defeated Davis during regular season play but ultimately lost the conference championship to the Aggies.

The rest of the conference, which includes a number of northern California schools, is struggling to keep pace at the moment.

ChesapeakeKeystoneMACSoutheastern SIRC
GeorgetownTempleWestern MichiganTennesseeKennesaw State
James MadisonVillanovaBowling GreenSouth CarolinaMiddle Tennessee State
MarylandWest ChesterCentral MichiganGeorgiaGeorgia Tech
Mary WashingtonSt. Joe'sKent StateKentuckyGeorgia Southern
Mount Saint Mary'sPittNorth IllinoisAlabamaMemphis
TowsonMillersvilleOhioFloridaCentral Florida
Virginia Lock HavenDaytonAuburnSouth Florida
Virginia TechRowanCincinnatiMississippi StateNorth Florida
Miami of OhioOle MissFlorida Atlantic
LouisvilleFlorida State
IvyNCRCGold CoastPAC-WestHeart of America
DartmouthWestern WashingtonLong Beach StateUC-DavisMissouri
HarvardWashington StateSan DiegoChico StateKansas
CornellOregonFullertonFresno StateIowa State
BrownBoise StateSanta Barbara CCSanta CruzKansas State
YaleGonzagaUC IrvineSan FranciscoTruman State
ColumbiaEastern WashingtonSan Jose StateOklahoma State
PennWestern OregonNevadaNebraska
Oregon State