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There are playoff implications in both of the Rugby East match-ups this weekend, as Wheeling Jesuit (0-1) travels to Kutztown (2-0) and Penn State (1-1) hosts Davenport (0-1), even if they’re not clearly defined. From the onset, the American Collegiate Rugby Championship planned to extend two bids to their Round of 16 to teams from the Rugby East. But since the suspension of Delaware, that plan’s less firm.
The winner of the Rugby East will definitely still receive a bid to the ACRC’s postseason, and Kutztown seals the deal with as much as a tie or a two-bonus-point loss (scoring four tries AND losing by seven or less) against Wheeling Jesuit this weekend.
The Cardinals would need to win the game outright, as well as beat Davenport next week, to remain in the hunt for the conference title. They’d also need to score at least one bonus point in either of those games. They’d need one if they keep Kutztown from getting a bonus, and they’d need two if they let KU get one. Neither Penn State nor Davenport can win the Rugby East.
But, Wheeling, Penn State and Davenport can all finish second. The ACRC braintrust is going to reconvene after this weekend to determine what to do about the extra seed.
An argument could be made that it should go to the loser of the Big Ten Championship Game, which looks like it’ll be between Michigan and Indiana, the only two unbeatens in the conference. An argument could also be made that the loser of tonight’s match between Maryland and Clemson, which serves as the de facto Atlantic Coast Championship Game, should also receive the nod. And, of course, the Rugby East runner-up still has a compelling argument to keep the bid, even without Delaware having played for it.
As far as the Rugby East’s DI-A postseason bid goes, it’s Kutztown’s to lose. The Golden Bears win it with a single bonus point Saturday. Wheeling Jesuit wins it if they beat Kutztown, score a bonus point and prevent the Golden Bears from doubling up on bonus points. Things would get really interesting if Wheeling wins, doesn’t bonus point and holds KU without a bonus point. Then the three teams would be tied at five points each, with point differential deciding the conference champion.
Yes, it’s a mess. But that’s what happens when a five-team league shrinks to a three-team league and then adds a fourth team whose results either count or don’t count, depending on who’s doing the counting.