The Gateway Rugby Conference is pleased to announce their commitment to the NSCRO Open Division D2 Competition beginning Fall 2020. The Gateway Rugby Conference was created in 2012 as USA Rugby reorganized various aspects of community rugby. The initial teams joining the Gateway Conference came from the Missouri Rugby Football Union, the Heart of America Union, and the WI-IL Union. Most teams in the conference operate independent of any current geographic union.
The conference has expanded from an initial seven D2 teams to it’s current ten squads over the past several years. This expansion has seen not only the competition structure modify from year-to-year, but also the quality of the championship rounds. Last year the conference returned to a fall 15’s East vs West division with the best two squads from each geographic division competing in a two-day conference championship. This format keeps all teams working towards improvement throughout the fall with their eye on an opportunity to compete in the conference championship and a chance to qualify for the National Championship round.
Over the past eight years the Gateway Conference has sent five different universities to compete at nationals and the conference takes great pride in the parity among the squads. The first D2 Men’s 7’s National Championship was won by Principia College. In the following years the Gateway saw as many as three out of twelve spots at annual 7’s National Championships filled by Gateway squads due to winning automatic qualifiers nationwide. Saint Louis University qualified for Nationals eight times during this span finishing as high as second, and last year UMS&T finished third overall at the 15’s National Championships.
The current teams in the Gateway Conference are from the states of Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, and Arkansas. The current squads are as follows:
- Southern Illinois University
- Principia College
- Washington University
- Saint Louis University
- Maryville University
- University of Missouri – Science & Technology
- University of Central Missouri
- University of Missouri – Kansas City
- Pittsburg State University
- John Brown University (Joined fall 2019)
When asked about the Gateway commitment to NSCRO, Commissioner Justin Whitton commented “NSCRO as an entity is focused on the well-being of college rugby as its main and only priority. It is our belief this entity is not only best positioned to fill the void created by the USAR restructuring, but also to finally implement a plan towards the short and long-term growth of collegiate rugby in America at every level. Having objectively evaluated all potential avenues for our ten teams, NSCRO’s motivation and intent along with their existing organizational structure was without question our best option going forward.”