Rugby is the only full contact sport for women in the NCAA and is currently classified as an Emerging Sport. 

What does it mean to be an NCAA Emerging Sport?

NCAA Emerging Sports Status is a ‘placeholder’ the NCAA grants new sports that are seeking full NCAA status. The Emerging Sport designation allows the sport to grow its membership to at least 40 varsity programs prior to being granted full NCAA championship status.

What other sports have Emerging Status?

Other current Emerging Sports on the NCAA list include: Equestrian (18 years on the list), Sand Volleyball (4 years) and Triathlon (2 years).


What is NCAA Women’s Rugby membership currently at now and how is it growing?

Since 2002, the expansion for women’s rugby as an Emerging Sport has grown to 23 member institutions. Member schools span all three divisions and represent diverse geographical areas of the United States – although 73% of the membership hailing from the East Coast.

Full championship status occurs when an Emerging Sport, supported and overseen by the Committee on Women’s Athletics (CWA) achieves 40 member institutions - each school must agree to treat rugby in a fully compliant manner as a varsity sport.

The progress and successful integration of Rugby into the NCAA as an Emerging Sport is paramount to the growth of women’s rugby in the United States.





  • Added: Alderson Broaddus University D-2, Post University D-2, Manhattanville College D-3
    Origin: Elevation of club programs​


  • Dropped: Central Washington University
    Origin: Joined D-1 Elite


  • Added: Queens College of North Carolina D-II, Colby Sawyer D-III
    Origin: Elevation of club programs​


  • Added: LIU-Post D-II, Mount St. Mary’s D-I
    Origin: Elevation of club programs


  • Added: Notre Dame College D-II, Molloy College D-II, Castleton College D-III Origin: Elevation of club programs


  • Added: Dartmouth D-I, Sacred Heart D-I, University of New England D-III, Central Washington University D-II
    Origin: Elevation of club programs

  • Dropped: Eastern Illinois University

  • First National Tournament hosting all NCAA teams is played at Brown University


  • Added: Army DI, Brown University D-I, American International College D-II
    Origin: Elevation of club programs


  • Added: Harvard D-I
    Origin: Elevation of club program


  • Added: Quinnipiac University D-I
    Origin: No club team previously, development through new on-campus SA recruitment


  • Dropped: Southern Vermont University


  • Added: West Chester University D-II
    Origin: Elevation of club program


  • Added: Bowdoin College D-III, Norwich University D-III, Southern Vermont D-III
    Origin: Elevation of club program


  • Added: Eastern Illinois University D-I
    Origin: Elevation of the club program

  • Rugby is added to the NCAA ES list

Asset 2_4x.png

© 2019 US Women's Rugby Foundation. All rights reserved.

Asset 1_4x.png

Copyright © 2019 U.S. Women's Rugby Foundation. All Rights Reserved.