NSCRO Leading the Way in Women’s Rugby
February 8, 2018
Since its beginning in 2007, the National Small College Rugby Organization (NSCRO) has made a commitment to advancing small college rugby and has been a big advocate of the women’s college game. Presently, there are roughly over 125 women’s college NSCRO teams and the number continues to grow every year.
NSCRO has continued to grow in both its 15s and 7s women’s game. Bryn Chivers, who has been involved in women’s college rugby for several decades and with NSCRO since 2014, indicated that over the course of that time, they have been able to grow the 15s championship and introduce 7s across the country. NSCRO held its first ever women’s 7s national championship in 2014 with six schools participating. Now, thanks to hard work and Chivers’ dedication to growing the game, nearly every conference is participating in 7s. In 2018, roughly 75 schools competed for a spot at the 7s national championships with 16 making their way to that event.
“Our goal was to increase visibility of all of our women’s national championships and get more schools participating,” said Chivers.
The women’s competition has seen tremendous advances in the last two years, thanks in large part to the full time hiring of Chivers. When Penn Mutual signed on the presenting sponsor of NSCRO in 2015, the President of NSCRO, Steve Cohen, made the decision to bring on a full time staff member to oversee the women’s game and it has paid dividends.
“Penn Mutual is helping foster the growth of the women’s game. NSCRO was able to bring me on thanks to the support from the sponsorship and now I can spend a lot of my time working on the development of the game for women’s NSCRO,” Chivers added.
Chivers is solely dedicated to the growth of women’s rugby and spends a lot of his time helping programs start up. Navigating the complicated rugby landscape is not easy, especially for programs starting out. Chivers has added structure and oversight to the women’s game and is able to spend his time finding new ways to drive the game forward.
In 2015, Chivers and Cohen came up with the idea to develop a high performance pathway for elite NSCRO players, the NSCRO Select team powered by Penn Mutual. The NSCRO Selects are comprised of players from all across the country who have impressed their coaches, conferences and the NSCRO Selects coaching staff with their play. The team made its debut at the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship in the spring of 2016.
“This opportunity has helped us create a talent identification pathway for our women to continue to progress to more elite levels. We also want to give women of all backgrounds the ability to progress,” Chivers added.
The player pathway has continued to evolve in 2018 with the introduction of the first NSCRO Women’s 7s All-Star Championship at Eckerd College this past January. One of the goals of the All-Star competition was to provide athletes from teams not traditionally competing in NSCRO’s 15s or 7s national championship pathways the opportunity to participate in a competition higher than that of their local conference play.
“The NSCRO Selects is a great opportunity for players but it is limited to a small group of athletes. The goal of this project is to increase the opportunity for more and more women to showcase their ability beyond the level of their own college,” Chivers indicated.
NSCRO is committed to developing small college women’s rugby across the United States. Over the course of a few years, it has developed a series of player development initiatives to move the game forward. The future is bright for women’s rugby and NSCRO is fueling its growth.