National Collegiate Rugby (NCR) will rename the Men’s Small College Championship the Cohen Cup in honor of the competition’s founder and former President, Steve Cohen.
Steve Cohen founded NCR’s predecessor organization, National Small College Rugby Organization (NSCRO), nearly 20 years ago to support and grow small college rugby in the United States.
Cohen planted NSCRO’s roots when he launched the 2002 East Coast D3 Championships, the first-ever small college men’s and women’s rugby national playoff system. Following several successful national tournaments, NSCRO was formally established in 2007 by Cohen and Chip Auscavitch.
During his tenure as President, Cohen grew NSCRO from 160 small colleges to over 370 men’s and women’s small colleges while continually improving the quality and experience for student athletes. Cohen secured major partnerships with Penn Mutual and Rhino Rugby that enabled greater investment into small college rugby. And, Cohen introduced several recognition programs such as men’s and women’s all-stars, Student Leader of the Month and Coach of the Month.
Rafael Zahralddin, NCR President, remarked “Helping student athletes reach their full potential is at the heart of Steve’s work. He has built a culture that embodies teamwork, leadership and fair play – both on and off the pitch.”
In May 2020, NSCRO was renamed National Collegiate Rugby and extended it’s charter to serve collegiate rugby programs of all sizes. Prior to stepping down as CEO, Cohen led NSCRO’s transformation to NCR, established a new operating model and grew the organization to over 600 committed colleges.
Cohen began playing rugby in 1969 and later became a full time referee. While refereeing for nearly 35 years he also held numerous rugby leadership roles at the local, territorial and national levels. Prior to forming NSCRO, Cohen created an East Coast College Division 2 Championship for men and women which led to the first National Championship in 1997. As a member of the USARFU Collegiate Committee, he recommended that USARFU start its own Division 2 playoffs.
“Steve’s passion for small college rugby is unmatched. From managing a national championship to helping a start-up rugby program or finding a last-minute referee, Steve has worked tirelessly to ensure the success of the collegiate game,” said Jeremy Treece, NCR CEO.
The inaugural Cohen Cup will be presented to the 2021 Men’s Small College Champion during the Collegiate Rugby Championship in Houston.