The Road to Recognition: Will Rugby Become an NCAA Sport?

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) governs and regulates various sports in colleges and universities across the United States. While sports like football, basketball, and soccer have long enjoyed NCAA status, other sports continue to strive for recognition. One such sport is rugby. In this article, we explore the potential for rugby to become an NCAA sport and the factors contributing to its growth and acceptance within the collegiate athletic landscape.

The Growth of Rugby In The US

Rugby has experienced a surge in popularity and participation in recent years, both at the grassroots level and in professional leagues such as Major League Rugby (MLR). The sport’s fast-paced and physical nature, combined with its values of teamwork and sportsmanship, have attracted a growing number of athletes seeking an alternative to traditional American sports.

The Rise of Collegiate Rugby

Collegiate rugby has witnessed significant growth and success across the country. Many colleges and universities have established competitive rugby programs, offering opportunities for student-athletes to participate in the sport at a higher level. The emergence of collegiate rugby championships and the Collegiate Rugby Championship (CRC) have further elevated the profile of the sport in the college sports landscape.

Factors Driving NCAA Consideration Of Rugby

Several factors contribute to the potential for rugby to become an NCAA sport:

  1. Increasing Participation: The growing number of colleges and universities with rugby programs and the rising participation rates indicate a strong foundation for the sport’s growth within the collegiate athletic realm.
  2. Title IX Compliance: Title IX is a federal law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in educational institutions. Adding rugby as an NCAA sport could help colleges and universities achieve gender equity in athletic opportunities, as it provides a platform for women’s rugby programs.
  3. Expanding Collegiate Rugby Championships: The success and popularity of collegiate rugby championships, such as the CRC, showcase the demand and interest in the sport among college athletes and fans. These events attract national attention and contribute to the argument for NCAA recognition.
  4. Enhanced Exposure and Media Coverage: Increased media coverage, including televised games and online streaming platforms, has allowed rugby to reach a wider audience. Greater exposure can attract sponsors, boost viewership, and potentially capture the attention of NCAA decision-makers.

Challenges and Considerations Preventing Rugby Becomingg An NCAA Sport

While the future looks promising, rugby faces several challenges on its journey to becoming an NCAA sport:

  1. Financial Considerations: Establishing and maintaining rugby programs at the collegiate level requires financial resources for coaching staff, facilities, equipment, and scholarships. Adequate funding will be crucial in convincing colleges and universities to invest in the sport.
  2. Infrastructure and Facilities: Rugby requires specific field dimensions and equipment, which may pose challenges for schools without existing rugby facilities. The availability and cost of suitable fields and training spaces can influence the feasibility of rugby programs.
  3. Academic Support: Student-athletes must balance their athletic commitments with their academic responsibilities. Establishing a support system to ensure academic success for rugby players will be important in gaining NCAA recognition.
  4. Competitive Balance: Ensuring competitive balance among schools is a significant consideration for the NCAA. A robust system for league alignments, conferences, and divisions will be necessary to maintain fair competition across different program sizes and levels of resources.


The path to rugby becoming an NCAA sport requires careful consideration and collaboration between rugby stakeholders, colleges, and the NCAA itself. While challenges exist, the sport’s growing popularity, the success of collegiate rugby, and the potential benefits for Title IX compliance make rugby a strong contender for NCAA recognition. As the sport continues to thrive and gain support, the future looks bright for rugby to find its place within the NCAA athletic landscape, providing exciting opportunities for college athletes and fans alike.


Is college rugby recognized by the NCAA? College rugby is not officially recognized by the NCAA. However, there are efforts and discussions underway to explore the possibility of gaining NCAA recognition in the future.

How is college rugby organized if it’s not an NCAA sport? College rugby operates under the governance of organizations like USA Rugby and various collegiate rugby conferences. These conferences are responsible for organizing and scheduling competitions between college teams, including conference championships and national tournaments.

Can college rugby players receive athletic scholarships? It depends on the individual college or university. While some schools may offer athletic scholarships for rugby, it is not as common as in NCAA-sanctioned sports. The availability and extent of athletic scholarships for rugby vary among institutions.

Are there college rugby championships? There are college rugby championships organized by governing bodies such as USA Rugby and other collegiate rugby organizations. The most notable championship event is the Collegiate Rugby Championship (CRC), which features top college rugby teams competing for the title.

Are there plans to make college rugby an NCAA sport in the future? There have been discussions and efforts to explore the possibility of making college rugby an NCAA sport in the future. However, the process of gaining NCAA recognition involves various factors, including financial considerations, infrastructure requirements, and compliance with NCAA regulations.

What benefits would college rugby gain from NCAA recognition? NCAA recognition could bring several benefits to college rugby, including increased funding opportunities, enhanced exposure through televised games and media coverage, standardized rules and regulations, and the potential for more widespread support and participation.

How can college rugby teams qualify for national tournaments? College rugby teams can qualify for national tournaments by participating in their respective conferences’ championships and earning a spot through the qualification process set by the governing bodies. Additionally, independent college teams may have specific criteria to meet in order to secure a spot in national tournaments.

How does college rugby align with Title IX regulations? College rugby can help colleges and universities achieve Title IX compliance by providing additional opportunities for female athletes. Offering women’s rugby programs alongside men’s programs can help balance the athletic opportunities for both genders and contribute to achieving gender equity in collegiate sports.

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