Rutgers has pulled out of the Women’s DII National Championship, and after a week searching for a replacement, there is still a vacancy at this weekend’s Round of 16.
It is rumored that Rutgers ran into some trouble with the university, and the team was recently suspended. As soon as the word infiltrated the collegiate ranks, efforts to replace the Northeast #3 team began.
First on the list was NRU #4 Bowdoin College.
“The team was thrilled at the opportunity to return to nationals,” Bowdoin coach MaryBeth Mathews said. “Cost was not an issue for the college, but after much discussion, I knew we couldn’t safely compete.”
Bowdoin is not the same team it was in the fall. Having lost eight starters from last season and a handful of players to injury and study abroad, the team wasn’t prepared for national-level competition.
“We wouldn’t have cared if we played and lost,” Mathews said. “I even called [Norwich coach] Austin [Hall] and talked with him, because our opponent would be Norwich. It was the experience we’d be going for, but in the end, I couldn’t tell my athletic director that we could safely compete, and that is what he asked me to base our decision on.”
The search continued – Rhode Island was consulted but they couldn’t pull a team together quickly enough after having graduated their entire tight five in the fall. Mary Washington also declined having not practiced in over two weeks. The latest rumor was that Delaware would slot in, but former president Anna Bruno indicated that no such plans had been communicated to the team.
USA Rugby Director of Operations Jim Snyder informed concerned parties that the Competitions Committee was now handling who replaces Rutgers, if anyone. Worst-case scenario is Rutgers’ would-be opponent, Norwich, gets a bye through the first round and sends a fresh team to the round of 8 against the winner of AIC v Vassar.
It’s a travesty to have this kind of misstep occur at the national level. The competition experienced similar complications last year when Washington State had to forfeit their bid due to pulled university funding. WSU has spent all year erasing the stigma of mismanagement, and now that torch has been passed to Rutgers.