Texas A&M has officially withdrawn from DI-A following the 2012 season. The Aggies alerted USA Rugby and fellow DI-A members of their decision earlier this week.
“For us, financially, we just can’t sustain it. In my personal opinion, I absolutely love the competition and it kind of breaks my heart that we have to leave it. We got travel grants from USA which paid for one half of one trip. Basically, right now, everything our guys do is on their backs,“ Texas A&M coach Brett Mills told RUGBYMag.
“It’s close to $2,000 a year to play rugby, and we lost probably 12 kids at Christmas time because of that. There’s nothing I’d rather do than compete in the competition.”
Texas A&M’s announcement is the first of what’s expected, by many, to be a rash of departures from the two-year-old competition.
Another team expected to leave DI-A is A&M’s former Mid-South rival Oklahoma. The Sooners, A&M and Texas Tech, which was estranged from the original Southwest Conference, could be the backbone of a new DI-AA conference.
Notre Dame is also expected to leave DI-A’s Mid-South, either for a DI-AA league or the Rugby East. It would seem the Mideast is a good fit in DI-AA, as the Fighting Irish already play a fall schedule against those teams. The Rugby East makes a lot more sense geographically for the Irish in DI-A, but simply switching leagues has ripple effects.
Rumor has it Army and Rutgers are seeking entrance, or have already been accepted to, the Empire Rugby Conference. However, RUGBYMag confirmed with Army coach Rich Pohlidal that it's his second and third teams who will play in the Empire.
A DI-A coaches meeting has been scheduled for June 23rd in Houston, the same place and time the Eagles take on Italy at BBVA Compass Stadium.
Keep tuned to RUGBYMag for updates on DI-A.