Week 2 of the Fall D1A season is upon us, and while teams are still busy wrapping up their preseason matches, two conferences get their competitions underway. Both the Liberty and Rugby East Conferences will kick off their campaigns this weekend. The Liberty conference will see two matches played, Rugby East has one, and the University of Notre Dame continues their Independent schedule.
The Liberty conference sees two of its divisions, the I-95 and Empire, start their seasons. On Friday night In the I-95 conference, Rutgers will travel from New Jersey to the Bronx to take on Fordham. If it is anything like last year’s game it will be a tightly fought battle that will come down to the final moments. Maxim Zhitnik will be the danger man for Fordham, after being selected to the All-American camp for 7s he will be looking to show off the skills he learnt in the high-performance arena. Rutgers will have their hands full trying to shut him down.
SUNY Oswego will start their D1A journey this weekend, when they host their central New York neighbors, Colgate. Oswego were standouts at the D2 level, but it is yet to be seen how they will translate to college rugby’s top flight. If last year’s D2 convert, SUNY Cortland, is anything go off they will be able to compete immediately in the Empire Conference. For Colgate, they will be looking to improve on their performance from last year. After challenging for conference titles in D1AA they didn’t have the dream debut D1A season they’d hoped for. However, they are always a handful and will look to spoil Oswego’s welcome party.
In the Rugby East, Notre Dame College Falcons play host to the University at Buffalo Bulls. 2017-18 was a year to remember for the 11th ranked Falcons. In their first year at the highest level of college rugby, they made an immediate impact claiming massive wins over established teams and finishing 3rd in the highly competitive Rugby East. For Buffalo it was a year to forget. They finished bottom of the ladder in Rugby East. However, if their preseason results are anything to go off, they are a new and improved team in 2018. It will be interesting to watch and see if their preseason success against the Liberty Conference translates into the regular season.
The University of Notre Dame had a dream start to their D1A life last weekend. The Fighting Irish convincingly beat Michigan, and will now look to do the same against Boston College. This will be Boston College’s first match at the D1A level, and they’ll have their hands full. It will likely be a high scoring game as both teams have displayed a proficiency in scoring points and playing at a blistering pace.
Elsewhere in D1A teams continue to conclude their preseason preparations, or in some cases begin them. The Mid-South gets their prepartations before their conference schedule underway with Clemson traveling to College Station, TX to take on the Texas A&M Aggies; and the newest member of the Mid-South, Navy, will host St. Bonaventure. Syracuse will wrap up their preseason with a trip down to Long Island to take on historic rivals, Stony Brook. While this game always produces special results, this year it takes on extra meaning as the two teams are competing for the Peter Baigent Cup. Baigent, one of the founding members of USA Rugby was also a founding member of both Syracuse and Stony Brooks’ rugby teams. This will be the first meeting of the two teams since the Fall of 2016.