June 18, 2024

NCR renames Small College to Division III

June 18 - National Collegiate Rugby (NCR), the leading athletic association for collegiate rugby in the United States, announced the renaming of its Small College division to Division III. This change is designed to align NCR's division structure more closely with the widely recognized NCAA framework, fostering a more cohesive and streamlined approach to collegiate rugby.

Effective in the Fall 2024 season, the Small College division will be officially known as Division III for both the men’s and women’s competitions. The renaming does not affect the current small college national championship pathways, national eligibility rules, or the competitive designations that some leagues use during the regular season.

This rebranding effort reflects NCR's commitment to enhancing the recognition and credibility of collegiate rugby programs across the country. By adopting the Division III designation, NCR aims to provide greater clarity and alignment with the traditional collegiate sports landscape, facilitating easier understanding and engagement for students, athletes, administrators and fans.

The decision to rebrand the Small College division was based on comprehensive research conducted among NCR small college members. Survey feedback revealed that a majority of players and coaches were neutral to highly supportive of the change.

Founded in 2008 by Steve Cohen, the National Small College Rugby Organization (NSCRO) played an instrumental role in the growth of small college rugby. NSCRO was recognized by USA Rugby as an independent organization in 2012, which is also the same year that the Small College name was introduced as an umbrella division for its range of competitive levels.

In 2020, when NSCRO evolved to include all collegiate divisions and rebranded as NCR, the Small College moniker became disconnected with the nomenclature used by Division I and Division II.

As a tribute to Cohen’s contributions, the men’s Small College national championship was renamed the Cohen Cup in 2022. The Division III national champion will continue to receive the Cohen Cup.

The Division III designation will uphold the values and standards that have defined the Small College division, ensuring a competitive and inclusive environment for all participating teams. NCR remains dedicated to providing robust support, resources, and opportunities for Division III student-athletes to excel both on and off the field.

Commenting on the renaming, Steve Cohen said “Adopting the Division III name is a natural evolution for NCR’s competitive structure. I am confident that the culture and values of small college rugby will continue to flourish under the new name and NCR’s leadership.”

Today, small college rugby continues to be the largest segment of college rugby based on participation with 300 men’s and women’s teams and 7,200 players.

This rebranding initiative is part of NCR's broader mission to elevate the profile of collegiate rugby and foster a vibrant, sustainable, and competitive rugby landscape in the United States. By aligning with the NCAA's divisional nomenclature, NCR is taking a significant step towards enhancing the sport's integration with the collegiate athletic ecosystem.

"The Division III name is well-known and respected in collegiate sports," explained Jeremy Treece, NCR’s Chief Executive Officer. "By aligning with this established nomenclature, we aim to make collegiate rugby more accessible and recognizable, fostering stronger connections with fans and administrators alike."


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