LAFAYETTE, Colo. – The University of Delaware’s Men’s Rugby team has been reinstated into its one-time conference Rugby East. The Fightin’ Blue Hens returned to the pitch in the fall of 2015 after two years in which the program was not allowed to have organized team activities on campus following a suspension that was handed down to the program in 2013.
“We are incredibly excited to be back in D1A, and in particular back in Rugby East,” said Head Coach Struan Murray. “The opportunity to play in what we feel is the toughest conference in D1A is a massive one, and it will be a huge challenge for us.”
Delaware has a history of playing Rugby East’s best teams from the years it spent in the conference prior to its suspension, but also reintroduced itself to the conference this past season playing as a D1AA Independent. The Blue Hens lost friendlies to Kutztown, Penn State, and Wheeling Jesuit between September and October, but ended their fall campaign with a 36-29 victory on the road against Iona.
The official return of Delaware continues a pattern of growth in the Rugby East Conference. In 2013, Wheeling Jesuit joined the East Coast’s premier college division, and was followed by Buffalo, Iona, and St. Bonaventure in 2014. Most recently, West Virginia entered the fray in 2015.
“We are looking forward to renewing some old rivalries and starting some new ones,” Murray added. “The quality of rugby is going to be high, and that is exactly what our players wanted to experience again. There are some phenomenal coaches and players in the conference, and we simply cannot wait to compete against them.”
The Blue Hens did enough during the 2015-16 season to earn a place in the D1AA Playoffs where they fell to American International College, 55-35.
“We are very excited to have the University of Delaware back competing at the D1A level in Rugby East,” said St. Bonaventure Head Coach and Rugby East Commissioner Clarence Picard.
“We’ve watched closely as Delaware rebuilt over the past few years, and are very impressed by their efforts; especially team president Chris Mattina and head coach Struan Murray. Both have ben tremendous representatives of the Delaware Rugby program, and have positioned the club to compete strongly this upcoming fall.”
The Blue Hens are the second team to rejoin a D1A conference after news was recently announced Sacramento State will be back in the California Conference after two seasons playing in D1AA.