The Evolution of the National Small College Rugby Organization

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The Evolution of the National Small College Rugby Organization

by Bernie Decker, Nov. 7, 2012

NSCRO President Steve Cohen

The National Small College Rugby Organization (NSCRO) is a countrywide rugby competition that is comprised of more than 200 men’s colleges and nearly 80 women’s colleges. It provides for the competitive structure for Small Colleges in what was formerly called Divisions 3 and 4. The playoff schedule begins at different times and dates throughout the year, based upon coordination by NSCRO with participating conferences and unions.

It is also Steve Cohen. Mr. Cohen, along with assistance from Chip Auscavitch (Auscavitch has since left NSCRO to concentrate his energies on the Rugby Northeast D-2 College Conference), created and established the program that has evolved into present-day NSCRO after comprehensive research and planning. They advised USA Rugby of the “NSCRO Plan”, and the national body was more than happy to recognize, accommodate and support the pair’s efforts.

Cohen is the individual who noted the need for a comprehensive set of men’s and women’s programs at the small college level, recognized the worth of such programs, initiated the competitions in 2002, and he keeps the ball rolling to this day.

During the summer of 2007 Cohen, with the help of Auscavitch, put together the program that has evolved into present-day NSCRO after a period of comprehensive research and planning. They advised USA Rugby of the “NSCRO Plan”, and the national body was more than happy to recognize the pair’s efforts.

“Rugby is a labor of love,” the likable East Coaster reports. “In 2002 after focusing my energies in the 1990s on establishing the first-ever Collegiate Division-2 championships for men and women, which resulted in USA Rugby accepting the recommendations of the USAR Collegiate Committee (of which Cohen was a member) to announce the start of a National D-2 Playoff system. USAR started the Men’s College D-2 in 1998 and 2 years later, the Women’s D-2 kicked off.”

In the beginning, “East Coast Local Area Unions (East Penn, Met NY, NY State and New England) all had D-3 for men and women, while Rugby South did so for just the men,” Cohen took it upon himself to create the field for the competitions and then set out to expand those contests to a fully national level.

NSCRO’s first competitive action occurred on November 11, 2007 between the men’s rugby clubs from Hamilton College (NY State RC Champ) and William Paterson University (Met NY RFU Champ), while the first-ever NSCRO Champion crowned was Stonehill College Women’s RFC, who won the 2007 Championship on Nov. 18 of that year by defeating Marist College RFC.

Cohen’s support has come from many different sides and is of two themes, physical and financial: “I get good support in hosting events by local collegiate and senior clubs,” he states. “For example, the Women’s National Championship is hosted by the Philadelphia Women’s RFC,” and monetarily: "Funding primarily comes from all participating Unions and Conferences. In addition, USA Rugby has provided financial support to NSCRO this year to allow the national television broadcast of the Men's National Semifinals on FOX Soccer Plus in April and live streaming of this year's Women's National Championship matches."

When Cohen is queried as to his greatest backer he is emphatic: “That’s easy - my understanding wife, Carol. The time and energy I’ve put into NSCRO impacts our life together…as many rugby volunteers know first-hand!”

NSCRO rugby is a crucial element in our national structure providing for the competitive format for Small College Men’s and Women’s clubs on the national stage. The 2012 women's playoffs are presently underway. The 2012/2013 men's league matches are currently ongoing with the Northeast and Central Regional Champions being decided in November while the Mid-Atlantic South and PacWest Regional Champions will be determined in Spring, 2013.

According to USA Rugby Collegiate Director, Rich Cortez, NSCRO conferences and playoffs are a vital part of the National Championship competitions. The energy of the players and coaches, as well as the support of teams by the schools, families and friends is well-founded. “We wish the best for the NSCRO competitions this year and look forward to continuing our association with NSCRO in making sure that all schools of whatever size, ambitions, or mission have a pathway to the National Championships.”

Women’s NSCRO Championship Round of Four is slated for the weekend of November 17-18, 2012 and is hosted by the Philadelphia Women’s RFC. The competition will take place in Cherry Hills, NJ at the home field of the South Jersey RFC.

Men’s NSCRO Championship Round of Four, semifinals and finals, will be at Infinity Park Rugby Stadium in Glendale, Colorado on the weekend of April 27-28, 2013.

You may check out the latest NSCRO news at

NSCRO will be providing live web streaming of all matches at both the Men's and Women's National Championship from its website.

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