D1A Playoff Brackets Finalized
By Alex Goff
The D1A playoff brackets have been announced by the College Rugby Association of America.
Not surprisingly, Navy and Lindenwood will get byes to the quarterfinals in the East, and Central Washington and Saint Mary’s will garner byes to the quarterfinals in the West.
In this, the D1A season with the most parity in recent memory, likely ever, only one team, Navy, has made it through the season without a loss. Lindenwood clinched the Mid-South this past weekend but split their games with Life in conference play. Central Washington has enjoyed an excellent season, but did lose 24-23 to BYU on March 18. Saint Mary’s have suffered losses to Cambridge University, Central Washington, and University of British Columbia, but did win the California Conference and beat Cal this past weekend.
Seeds are decided based on rankings, which factor in wins and strength of schedule. Here’s how it shook out:
- Navy. This is obvious. Navy is undefeated, and beat, among others, Army and Cal.
- Lindenwood. The only team Lindenwood lost to, they beat a second time around. Clinchers of the always-tough Mid-South, the Lions are very strong.
- vs 6. Life hosts Texas A&M. Life finished 2nd in the Mid-South while Texas A&M won the Red River. However, there is no guarantee of a home game if you are a conference winner.
- vs 5. Army hosts Davenport. Army was second in the Rugby East behind Navy and lost to Navy in two close games. While the Black Knights have five losses on their books they are to Navy (twice), Cal, BYU, and Central Washington. (One reason Life is ranked ahead of Army is because Life beat BYU.) But they have also beaten seven strong teams. Davenport has enjoyed a solid season overall, beating Arkansas State twice and Life once. The Panthers also beat the top two teams in the Big 10 in Indiana and Ohio State.
All Round 1 games will be April 8. Navy hosts Army or Davenport while Lindenwood hosts the winner of Life and Texas A&M; both quarterfinals are on April 15.
- Central Washington. The only blemish on CWU’s record is a one-point loss to a tough BYU team in which the potential winning try was called back for a forward pass. Not to diminish the achievement by BYU of winning on the road, but such a slim margin can be pushed aside when balanced against victories over Saint Mary’s, UBC, Army, and this past weekend’s shutout of Arizona.
- Saint Mary’s. This seed was up in the air until the past weekend when Saint Mary’s beat Cal 38-34. That kind of settled the pecking order, as Saint Mary’s had also beaten BYU and had played a very strong schedule.
- vs 6. Cal hosts Cal Poly. Cal just a few points behind Saint Mary’s and just a few points behind Navy, and also winners over Arizona, Army, and UCLA, Cal is a logical #3. Yes this seeding is being put out before Cal plays BYU, but the conclusion of the CRAA Competitions Committee is that the BYU-Cal game won’t significantly shift the seeds (no one will be bumped to the top two).
Cal Poly is an interesting one. Cal Poly just lost to UCLA, which isn’t in the playoff bracket. How could that be? Well the rankings and seedings take into account the entire season, and strength of schedule. One result, even a recent one, can’t negate what else has happened.
UCLA has won eight games, including two shortened matches. Their highest-ranked win was against Cal Poly, and after that, Santa Clara. They have played a solid schedule but lost six games, including a very close loss to Arizona.
Cal Poly has lost only twice, to UCLA and Saint Mary’s, and won 10 games, with their highest-ranked win being Santa Clara. Cal Poly had six full-length victories against D1A opposition, UCLA four. Cal Poly’s average score vs common opponents with UCLA is 55-25, UCLA’s 38-23. It is close, but Cal Poly also comes in 2nd in their conference, while UCLA is 3rd in theirs.
- vs 5. BYU hosts Arizona. This is pretty clear. BYU won the Rocky Mountain Conference and lost only to Life and Saint Mary’s. Arizona has played BYU, Cal, Colorado, UCLA, and Central Washington, and while the Wildcats were 2-3 in those games, the losses were all competitive.
All Round 1 games will be April 8. Central Washington hosts the winner of BYU vs Arizona, and Saint Mary’s hosts Cal or Cal Poly; both quarterfinals are on April 15.
The higher seed will host every game until the final, which will be played in Houston at Sabercats Stadium on May 6th. Matches will br broadcast the The Rugby Network.