The Southwest Collegiate Rugby Conference would like to announce that it has formally been accepted by USA Rugby as a Division I Conference. Todd Bell, the USA Rugby Collegiate Coordinator informed the Conference commissioner, Baylor Head Coach Clayton Jewett, of the committee’s decision on Wednesday. The charter members of the SWCRC include Baylor, Rice, University of Houston, Texas State, Sam Houston State, TCU, and University of North Texas. The Board of Directors of the SWCRC voted to accept the University of Texas into the conference as well. The move to Division I is a big step for over half of the teams in the SWCRC with 5 of the 8 teams playing in Division II or Division III last year.
Originally there was an effort to form a Big 12 Conference. While this certainly would have been marketable, it was not feasible for numerous reasons. Rugby teams are club sports and therefore do not have the financial support for travel that varsity sports do. Forming a Big 12 Conference would have meant a great deal of travel for clubs that simply cannot afford that. In addition, a Big 12 Conference would have left out all of the schools in the SWCRC except for Baylor. As such, Baylor broke off talks with the Big 12 schools to form the SWCRC. Will there be a move in the near future to expand the conference to include other teams such at Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Stephen F. Austin, and possibly New Mexico? We do not know, we will take things one season at a time. As it stands, the SWCRC believes that it has formed a quality conference; one that will provide each team with competitive matches that will benefit not only our individual programs, but also the sport as a whole in Texas. We are excited about the future of rugby in Texas and the USA and are concentrating on having a stable conference that will compete on the national level in Division I collegiate rugby.