USA Rugby released its first Mens College Division II rankings. In the top-25 are schools such as Notre Dame, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and Illinois State University.
As the governing body of collegiate rugby, USA Rugby gathered 14 Division II (DII) college rugby commissioners to vote on the top teams in the country on a weekly basis.
Were hoping that these rankings will help push DII closer to the center stage at this time of year where they belong, USA Rugby Collegiate Director Rich Cortez told a reporter from USA Rugbys website. A weekly ranking for mens DII rugby should be a good mechanism to bring it into the forefront of peoples attention.
The Illinois State mens club rugby president Drew Cheatham agrees that, not only will this ranking bring more recognition to college rugby in general, but also to the ISU team.
We want to spread attention to not only ISU athletes, but also those who might have played rugby in high school and can now look at us and say Hey, this team is pretty good.
As a sport, rugby has recently gained international attention after being adopted as an Olympic sport for the 2016 Olympics. By bringing recognition to collegiate rugby teams across the country, it is the hope of USA Rugby to continue the growing popularity of the sport.
As for Illinois States ranking, Cheatham and the rest of the team are happy about their placement on the list.
Its cool to see ourselves recognized in Rugby Magazine, but to have this ranking come from USA Rugby means even more because it is our governing body, Cheatham said.
Since the rankings come out on a weekly basis, Illinois State has a chance to improve its standing through continuous tournament victories.
Of the top-five teams on the list, Salisbury, Notre Dame, UW-Whitewater, James Madison and Minnesota Duluth, the ISU team most looks forward to challenging UW-Whitewater, as they are the Redbirds biggest conference rivalry.
We played them last year in the conference championship and lost to them in a close game, Cheatham said. Our goal this year is to make it back to the conference championship and hopefully beat them.
After hosting and defeating University of Wisconsin Milwaukee last weekend, the Redbirds have earned a spot in the conference semifinals.
ISU mens rugby will face off against University of Wisconsin-Stout in the conference semifinals at 2 p.m. on Saturday in Chicago for the chance to move on to the conference championship.