Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, UCLA and Utah have agreed to compete together in a league beginning with the 2012/2013 competitive cycle.
The name, format and makeup of the league are all still undecided, but the hope is for the league to be directly linked with the Pac-12.
“In the interest of all parties, this is a discussion,” said Arizona coach Dave Sitton.
“We have had contact with the Pac-12 Conference. It is possible that we will have a full-on affiliation. We are not an NCAA sport, obviously, but there is room under the Pac-12 banner to have associate membership like we’re proposing.”
It is unclear whether this league will be DI-A or DI-AA, but Sitton says the member teams have not closed the door on either.
“This does not mean that we are leaving USA Rugby. We are still going to be paying CIPP and the other necessities to maintain association with USA,” Sitton added. “This is not a secession from USA Rugby. It’s simply a new alignment of schools of similar cultures and interests.”
The Atlantic Coast Rugby League, Southeastern Collegiate Rugby Conference and Ivy Rugby all mirror traditional NCAA conferences, and Sitton indicated this new competition is forming for largely the same reasons the others came to fruition.
“This is born of the fact that in the last two years several of the schools that began in CPD have left the division because their players, their alumni, their schools have felt that they would be best served in a different alignment,” said Sitton.
“There are several schools that are members of the Pac-12 Conference that have reached a similar conclusion that our student athletes, our alumni, our schools and our cultures will be best served if we play a competition amongst those same schools, and that is the purpose of this.”
Sitton said the league is meant to be inclusive, that any traditional Pac-12 school would be welcome to join, and that there are such schools currently considering doing so.
“There are other schools that are in the Pac-12 Conference membership that are considering moving to this competition,” he said, “and in deference to them, because they are considering, I will not name them because I do not want to interfere with their discussions within their own cultures.”
Sitton said the new competition does not currently have a deal with Pac-12 Networks, set to go on the air in August, but not to rule out a future affiliation.
Attempts to reach representatives of other teams in this new competition were unsuccessful.