Via Jessa in NY, an article from USA Today:
Women’s rugby set for NCAA debut
By Greg Dohmann, USA TODAY
While rugby might never achieve the popularity in the USA that it enjoys in other countries, Saturday could mark the first step toward taking collegiate women’s rugby from a club favorite to an NCAA sport.
The first NCAA-sanctioned women’s rugby match, between Eastern Illinois and West Chester (Pa.), will be held in Charleston, Ill. The success of the match could push more schools to create NCAA programs, creating scholarships that would help to meet the requirements of Title IX, the federal law that bans sex discrimination at schools receiving federal funds.
While USA Rugby estimates there are 300 to 350 collegiate club teams, only four schools — Eastern Illinois, West Chester, Bowdoin (Maine) and Southern Vermont — offer it as an NCAA sport. At least two more are considering it.
Rugby was added to the NCAA emerging sports list in 2002, when Eastern Illinois became the lone Division I team. The Committee on Women’s Athletics grants a 10-year grace period, during which the sport must show growth and progress. The D-I program has until 2012 to show such progress, while Divisions II and III, which include the other three teams, have until 2014 and 2015, respectively.
While not a requirement, the ultimate goal for the sport is to reach 40 teams, the number needed to hold an NCAA championship, said Rebecca Carlson, emerging sports program manager for USA Rugby.
Eastern Illinois outscored its opponents 652-42 while going 9-1 last season. But if the match serves its purpose, the final score might be secondary.
“I don’t think it matters (what happens in the match),” Carlson said. “It’s all about the opportunity.”
Carlson said about 1,500 fans are expected, including representatives from other schools and potential sponsors.
So, if you’re around EIU, please go watch this game and support women’s rugby!
It’s not about supporting a certain coach or a certain team, although I think West Chester’s varsity program is building a nice bridge between the club teams and the new varsity future, but it’s about supporting women’s rugby in the United States. Big picture – this is a positive first step. Especially getting some notice in the national media.