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2005 College Rugby Rankings


Our church has no bells.
Obviously, this guy doesn't realize that tOSU didn't send our full number one side to play Navy the week after winning the Midwest. Still, we're ranked #7 on one of the major international rugby websites, so that's great stuff. Even better when the Buckeyes beat Cal for the national title.

Keep us posted, wadc. Go Bucks.

<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=1 width=440 border=0><TBODY><TR><TD vAlign=bottom>Lowe's Unofficial College Rankings</TD><TD vAlign=bottom align=middle>13/01/05</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=1 width=440 border=0><TBODY><TR><TD vAlign=top>Who's #1

The winter/spring college rugby season is due to kick off on the West Coast this Saturday, so we figured it would be timely to run the slide rule over the collegiate scene to try to determine rankings. Strangely enough, in a country that has an abnormal obsession with ‘national’ championships, and where rugby is the main protagonist in that regard, there are no ‘official’ college rankings for schools that jockey for positions for a shot at the national collegiate championship.

And just so you know, the criteria we’ve used to devise our own unofficial ranking system include the recent fall season, strength of schedule, and the 2004 Sweet Sixteen, as well as our own gut feel. And no, history did not factor into our calculations. So, here we go.

Going into the new season, we rate Army #1. For starters, these guys went undefeated through the fall. Rich Pohlidal’s young men whipped all comers in the NERFU to go into the NRU playoffs seeded #1, and then duly lived up to that ranking by dispatching Dartmouth in no uncertain terms in the final. And on top of that, Army also beat archrivals Navy in the annual classic in November.

At #2 we have Cal Berkeley. Well, come on, the Golden Bears are the reigning collegiate champions aren’t they. However, because they haven’t played anyone since last spring, it’s hard to put them at the very top of the tree, at least for now. And even Cal’s head coach Jack Clark agrees with us on that one.

Coming in at #3 is Cal Poly, last year’s runners-up. Again, they put together an excellent campaign in 2004, but because they’re a West Coast team, they didn’t play in the fall, and therefore it would be unreasonable, at this stage at least, to rank them any higher.

Mind you, having said that, it probably won’t take us too long to get a handle on the true form of both of these schools.

BYU checks in at #4. The Cougars turned in an awesome fall campaign, they didn’t just beat their opposition, they totally dominated them. The only reason they’re not ranked higher is because one must question the strength of some of the teams they faced, but there’s no doubt they will be a formidable opponent for anyone this season.

Rounding out the top five is Air Force. It could be argued that the Zoomies deserve a higher ranking than #5 because they didn’t just beat some of their Western League rivals, they trounced them, plus they won the Heart of America tournament and the Armed Forces championship, but there was one blemish on an otherwise impressive season. They lost to Oklahoma University at Ruggerfest in Aspen, and as harsh as it may seem, we’ve slotted them in here because of that.

At #6 is Navy. The Midshipmen had a very good fall in which they accounted for all challengers, except, of course, for that one Saturday in November when Army got the better of them. No question that Navy is a solid outfit, coach Mike Flanagan has done a bang up job with his charges, but they didn’t quite dominate as did Air Force and BYU ranked above them.

Following closely at #7 is Ohio State. The Buckeyes, under the stewardship of Tom Rooney, were a little patchy during the fall even though they ended up winning the Midwest tournament at Purdue. What clinched their ranking was the thumping they got from Navy the following week.

Oklahoma University is ranked at #8. OU is another school that beat all college opposition through the fall, as well as doing very well at Ruggerfest, but again, the quality of some of their opposition is questionable, and when combined with the fact that they didn’t make the Sweet Sixteen last year, they can’t be slotted any higher.

However, Sooners football coach Bob Stoops ought to do himself a favor and take a leaf out of the book of his rugby counterpart Jon Velie because apart from being passionate and articulate about his team, Velie knows how to win, and we reckon OU rugby is headed for bigger things.

Penn State comes in at #9. The Nittany Lions had a solid fall campaign. Coach Terry Ryland prepared his team well and if not for a late season loss to Navy, they could be ranked higher, but due to that defeat, and OU’s unbeaten run, we’ve put them here.

The top ten is rounded out by Clemson. The Tigers went through their South rivals like a dose of salts, and if you’re wondering why we didn’t rank them higher than #10 as a result, it’s basically because the standard of rugby in the South just flat out isn’t as good as it is elsewhere. Until Clemson tackles the likes of an Army, Cal, or OSU, we won’t know how good they really are and therefore, realistically, they can’t be ranked higher.

After the top ten, it’s about as clear as mud, but even so, we’ve ranked Dartmouth at #11. The Big Green, coached by Alex Magleby, had a good enough fall season to deserve a ranking. They fared well in the NERFU and went into the NRU playoffs #2 behind Army, which is where they finished overall. Can they beat a Clemson, or an OU? Until they’re tested, no one really knows.

Slotting in at #12 is Wyoming. This one could’ve gone to any one of a bunch of teams such as Harvard, UConn, UMass, or Northeastern, but we’ve gone with the Cowboys. This one is more of a gut feel than anything else, although Wyoming did well in the Western League and steamrolled their opposition in the Jackalope tournament, so that swayed us in their favor.

Other unranked teams to keep an eye on in 2005 include UC Davis, Santa Barbara and St Mary’s.

As we said at the outset, these are our unofficial rankings only. They’re based on our own formula, and we wanted to share them with you so that you can follow everyone’s progress this season, hopefully, with added interest.

By Brian Lowe

the guy on the bottom looks like he is in pain.....

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You are so right about that...it is never mentioned that we tried to cancel the Navy game and ended up only taking 4-5 regular starters to Navy. The rest were all B-side guys. Everyone else was either unavailable, injured, or at the Midwest developmental camp.

FYI...these ranking are a touch off. Cal-Berkeley would kill Army, and at full strength I think we would beat both BYU and Navy. The Cals and Army in the top 3 is tough to argue with.
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Geiger's departure may end up having a positive impact on us...not that he was a staunch opponent to us going varsity or anything, but the idea had sort of been lulled into submissions during his tenure. We can only hope that the new AD is interested in seeing our program grow as much as we are. Meeting our endowment requirements so that we can have an automatic annual income to draw from would be a step in the right direction. Considering in March and April we have a trip to Cal-Berkeley, a trip to Colorado Springs, a possible trip to Stanford, and we are hosting the Ohio Rugby Classic, we could obviously use the extra income while we are a club team. If we were varsity, we wouldn't even have to worry about this kind of stuff. We are working towards that as we speak...
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Best of luck. A good showing in the tournament this spring should help. Have you guys heard about the upcoming benefit tournament at Life Univ. for the Aspen player who was paralyzed? I'll send you a link. Sounds like they're getting a first-class group of sides together and I know they wanted to get some high-end college teams involved.
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If OSU does establish a varsity rugby program (essentially granting varsity status on your club), what are the scholarship limits (if any), and how would you recruit players? Are there established guidelines for rugby like there are for football and basketball?
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Cal is the only varsity club in the country right now and the competition is sanctioned by USA Rugby rather than NCAA. No clue about what the recruiting rules, etc. would be, but we've certainly got a talent pool already on campus from which to draw players. Better athletes than we already get as a club sport are out there.
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