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While more than half the country is ramping up its preseason preparations with the hopes of playing 15s deep into November, some of the best teams in the country are inching their way into the fall semester with an eye toward development and the spring season. That's the world of college rugby we live in these days, which means we're ranking teams who won't play meaningful rugby for another seven months.
Still, we feel confident that the top five teams are all pretty undeniable, and that BYU's and Cal's proven ability to reload year after year means they're probably going to be the best two teams in the country when it's all decided nine months from now.
St. Mary's, for the second year in a row, lost some really important players. They reloaded last year and had their best season in history, but we've got to see them do it again before we assume they're going to be there every season.
Life had a young team last season, which is why we give them the nod over Arkansas State. The gap between Life and Arkansas State might be a little larger this season than it has been in the past, if the amount of players the Red Wolves lost to graduation is any indication.
Central Washington and Lindenwood are teams on upward trajectories, so expect them both to be more competitive at the end of the season than they have been in the recent past.
AIC, Michigan and Clemson, though further down the list, are also programs on the rise. Nearly everyone between, well they're usual suspects who pretty routinely have better rugby players than the majority of their opponents.
Teams to keep an eye on include Texas and Oklahoma, who are both in their second full seasons under new, impressive head coaches. Middlebury and South Carolina could make cases to be in this list, too.