22 March —The Big Rivers Rugby Conference (BRCC) will become National Collegiate Rugby’s (NCR) newest Division I men’s conference. The newly formed conference includes six founding members spanning from Iowa to West Virginia, between Michigan and Kentucky.
The BRCC begins competition this coming Fall and includes the following schools:
The Big Rivers name was inspired by the schools’ close proximity to some of the biggest rivers in the country including the Missouri, Mississippi, and Ohio rivers.
As relatively new programs, all of the BRCC schools receive financial support and backing from their administrations. The new conference will help resolve some of the divisional disparities that can exist across collegiate rugby conferences.
Adrian and Thomas More met in 2021’s Division II National Finals, with the Saints prevailing 21-17. Iowa Central has shown dominance in the Midwest and nationally since their inception in 2016. Marian’s program kicked off in the Spring of 2021 and is growing fast, and Wheeling is on the rise and looking to return to championship form. Aquinas is the newcomer on the scene and will begin 7’s competition this Spring under coach Lance Hohaia. Collectively, the BRCC schools produced eight 2021 All Americans.
Justin Whitton will serve as the first Commissioner of the BRCC. With vast experience in college rugby administration, Justin currently serves as an assistant coach for the Midwest Collegiate All-Stars, the Commissioner of the Gateway Rugby Conference, and a World Rugby Judicial Officer. Justin previously served as the Head Coach for Saint Louis University Rugby for thirteen years and is the former Chairman of USA Rugby Congress.
Justin Whitton stated, "We are now seeing an explosion of ‘varsity-type' rugby programs nationwide as schools of all sizes recognize the value rugby can bring to their campus communities. These programs—and the coaches and administrators leading the way—will be the reason our national level of play continues to improve. It’s great to be with an organization like NCR that has the single goal of improving and growing the college game in America.”
The BRCC further expands NCR’s Division I competition, which already includes powerhouse conferences such as Rugby East, Chesapeake and the Liberty Conference.
Brad Dufek, NCR’s Men’s Division I/II Commissioner, added “It’s a very exciting time for the ever-evolving landscape of collegiate rugby. We’re not only thrilled to help build this opportunity for the six founding members of the Big Rivers, but also to lay a foundation that will be a home for new programs that emerge in the heart of the U.S. for years to come.”
About the Big Rivers Rugby Conference (BRCC)
The Big Rivers Rugby Conference is a National Collegiate Rugby Division I conference. The BRCC includes six schools across the Midwest: Adrian College (Adrian, MI), Aquinas College (Grand Rapids, MI), Iowa Central Community College (Fort Dodge, IA), Marian University (Indianapolis, IN), Thomas More University (Crestview Hills, KY), Wheeling University (Wheeling, WV).
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