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NEW YORK – The 2017 Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Rugby Championship kicks off once again this April with 14 teams vying in the April postseason to advance to May’s championship final. Harvard University joins the field for this year’s competition while Air Force and Texas end their participation, as does Brigham Young, which has been stripped of the 2015 championship.
Harvard brings its history as the oldest collegiate rugby program in America to the Varsity Cup. The Crimson won the 1984 national collegiate championship; finished as runners-up twice, in 1981 and 2003; and advanced to the semifinals in 1993.
The United States Air Force Academy, a founding member of the Varsity Cup, withdraws from the 2017 competition after failing to win a Varsity Match during its four years. Air Force is joined in its exit by Texas, which departs the Varsity Cup after completing their three-year commitment with a 2-3 record.
At the 2016 Varsity Cup annual general meeting, participating universities voted unanimously, with one abstention, to strip BYU of its 2015 title for using an ineligible player in the 2015 Varsity Cup postseason. Later in the offseason, a committee – which included university intercollegiate athletic directors, executive associate athletic directors, senior associate athletic directors and associate athletic directors representing state universities, Power Five conference universities and military academies – worked with coaches and related parties to formalize a participation charter and strengthen the competition’s eligibility rules by eliminating loopholes, while preserving waivers for official religious missions and military service. The Cougars subsequently opted out of the 2017 Varsity Cup competition.
As a result, the 2017 Varsity Cup Championship is now comprised of 14 teams and commences on April 8, with quarterfinals on April 15, semifinals on the 22nd and the Varsity Cup final slated for May 6. The postseason will use a similar, single-elimination format used in previous years.
The 2017 Varsity Cup teams: