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New England College is making the jump from NSCRO to DIAA next fall. The Lions, 2014 NSCRO 7s National Champions and 15s runners-up, will join the East Coast. They’ll be joined in the move by Fairfield, champion of the DII Tri-States.
“While it’s a big jump for us, and despite a male full-time undergraduate enrollment of about 700 students, I believe we can have the same success in Division 1 as in NSCRO,” NWC coach Jeremy Treece said in an NSCRO press release.
“It will not happen overnight, but with the college’s commitment to building an even stronger program, we can get there. We would not be poised to take this step up without our successful experience in NSCRO. It’s because of the quality of the national platform NSCRO provided that our college’s administrators really took notice.”
NEC capped off its third-straight undefeated Northeast season this fall. The Lions are 33-0 in the last three years against DII and NSCRO competition in the Northeast. New England enjoys impressive financial support from its administration.
Treece was hired to resurrect the rugby program at the Henniker, N.H. campus. New England College rugby was started in 1981 but had been dormant for about a decade. Treece is a paid and has a number of partial scholarships to work with. He awarded the program’s first full scholarship this year to Irishman Cathal Finnren. The Lions are on track to go varsity in 2016.
In the meantime, the Lions have unfinished business in NSCRO. They’ll be going for their first 15s National Championship and looking to defend their 7s title in the spring. Last season, the Lions fell in the second half to eventual 15s National Champion St. John’s. Later that month they beat New Mexico Highlands to win the 7s title inside PPL Park in Philadelphia, Pa.
“It would be nice to win it in 15s. That’s our goal, obviously. We’d like to win 15s and 7s,” said Treece. “That was our goal last year, and we came about 15 minutes short of doing that. We led that whole game and just ran out of gas in the end. We made some stupid mistakes, and St. John’s is a good team and they capitalized on it and beat us. It’s as simple as that.”