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NIRA Membership & NCAA Women’s Rugby Prospectus for Athletic Directors

What is the National Intercollegiate Rugby Association – NIRA ?

The NIRA is home to the current NCAA Women’s Rugby programs charged with:

  • Conducting advocacy and outreach as the rugby leaders in NCAA Emerging Sport for Women initiative. We collaborate with our Emerging Sports peers under, the auspices of the NCAA CWA and the Office of Inclusion and work directly with institutions and conferences considering adding or elevating women’s rugby
  • Managing an ever-growing competition among all of our current members across all Divisions — as equitably and budget neutrally as possible. By managing member competition, the NIRA is able to assist each member institution in meeting competition minimums to ensure that all programs are countable when we achieve 40 or more programs and are engaged the CWA pre-championship legislation, sport sponsorship compliance audit.
  • Collaborating with subject matter experts in referee and coach development disciplines to ensure that we are building infrastructure now, to support NIRA programs and programming now, that will be portable and sustainable during the transition to a championship sport and to a sport committee in the future.
  • Conducting postseason championship to provide a meaningful postseason experience for rugby student-athletes.
    Provide association-wide student-athlete academic and field performance recognition programs

Why consider rugby as the next varsity sport at your institution?

We invite you to review the following information as you explore the possibility of making women’s rugby the newest NCAA women’s sport at your school. As NCAA member institutions explore progressive, diverse and affordable and options to add to their varsity sport programming, women’s rugby emanates all three.

  • Women’s rugby is the only low cost, high roster, full contact NCAA team sport for women.
    Rugby is one of the most globally popular sports, played in over 130 countries and one of fastest growing team sports in the United States. As more high school student-athletes experience the dynamism and diversity of rugby and are empowered through the experience of playing a full contact team sport, they are desiring the opportunity to play at the NCAA level.
  • Adding an NCAA Emerging Sport for Women demonstrates an institution’s proactive commitment to expanding athletic opportunities for female student-athletes. Adding women’s rugby as the only full contact team sport for women demonstrates an institution’s progressive commitment to reimagining the future of women’s sports.
  • Rugby delivers significant value to colleges and universities; affordability; physical, cultural and socio-economic diversity, and the opportunity to carry a large roster with a positive bottom-line impact on EADA numbers (average NCAA DIII roster size is approximately 30.1).

2021-22 NCAA Demographics Database – Women’s Rugby

Click to view 2022-23 NIRA Member’s Race & Ethnicity Dataplease note not all members reported

Funding an NCAA Women's Rugby Program

Your department would be responsible for determining a budget for women’s rugby commensurate with your other field sports.

Average Divisional Operating Budgets (excluding coach salaries):

  • D-I ≥ $106,000
  • D-II ≥ $45,270
  • D-III ≥ $30,798

For more information, including data on coach salaries and staffing, please submit the contact form below to request our 2022 Assets Survey.


For the latest news and updates, follow us on our social media accounts!

Wishing those representing all the best in Houston at the @usarugby @collegerugbyus Premier 7s National Championships. Catch all the action live @therugbynetwork ...

Coach Mathews has been a bellwether in advancing the women's intercollegiate game. On behalf of those who have had the privilege of working with her over the decades, the countless student athletes she has impacted and the game she has bettered, thank you. Official retirement announcement can be found in our ...

@newberrysports is hiring. click link above for job posting. ...

and usna_womens_rugby makes 30 👏👏👏
#30in23 #sprintto40 📸 @broadgauge

D-II First XV (repost with spelling correction). ...

As we get ready to welcome the new year we leave you with a vignette of the 2022 NIRA Championships. Wishing you and the NCAA Women's Rugby initiative a prosperous 2023 🎉🎉🎉 #sprintto40
@dartmouthwrugby @harvardwrugby @queenswrugby @du.womensrugby @bowdoinwomensrugby @unewomensrugby

Welcome Warren Wilson College!
Read more about our newest program in bio link. #sprrintto40

The 2022 Divisional Championships are in the books. A phenomenal day of rugby brilliantly hosted by Dartmouth College Athletics. We’ll see you this time next year for the 2023 Divisional Championships at Harvard… ...

Congratulations to the teams advancing to the 2022 NIRA Divisional Championships this Saturday in Hanover, NH! Tickets can be purchased online or at the gate. 🎟 link in bio. ...

game day 👊 visit home team athletics sites for broadcast and streaming details…. ...

👀 @frostburgsports adds women’s rugby as their 25th varsity sport! 👏👏👏 ...

Congratulations to 12 additional student-athletes for achieving cumulative GPAs of 3.7-4.0 in the 2021-22 academic year, bringing the total number of student-athletes - meeting 3.7+ and CoSIDA criteria - to over 100! ...

Today we celebrate the academic achievements of our student-athletes on the 50th anniversary of the passage of Title IX. If you participate - in any capacity - in womens and girls sports you stand on the shoulders of tireless advocates who have gone before you. The work is not done. The work needs more tireless advocates. Consider lending your shoulders. ...

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