Women’s Division I Elite playoff dates, locations announced

BOULDER, Colo. - The inaugural season of the Women's Division I Elite competition is under way and pairings for the first round of playoffs - April 22-23 - have been confirmed. The eight teams will be split into two pools of four, with the highest-seeded team in each pool hosting the first and second round matchups.

Launched in 2015, the Elite division in women's collegiate rugby was created in recognition of a few of the country's top-performing programs.

"USA Rugby is delighted that eight of the most driven and successful women's rugby teams in the collegiate ranks wanted to play meaningful, high-level rugby throughout the school year," USA Rugby College Director Rich Cortez said. "Each match between any two of these teams is some of the best rugby this country has to offer, and they'll bring another dimension to our National Championship weekend this spring."

In the east, reigning Division I National Champion Pennsylvania State University will have home field advantage against Big Ten rival Indiana University. The Nittany Lions have played in each of the past 12 DI National Championship Finals, winning eight before entering the new premier collegiate competition, and defeated the Hoosiers twice this past fall.

Also in State College, Lindenwood University will look to avenge a fall season loss to the Running Eagles of Life University in the first round. The Lions' two defeats in the 2015-16 season have come at the hands of Penn State and Life, while the Running Eagles have swept their spring 2016 slate of matches, highlighted by a shutout of DII Fall Champion Davenport University.

The west will see the Lobos of University of New Mexico travel to Ellensburg, Wash., where they will face 2015 Division I runner-up Central Washington University. The Wildcats have hit the ground running in 2016, beating Brigham Young University on their way to an undefeated regular season. In the other matchup hosted at Central Washington, the newly-elevated BYU Cougars will look to power through perennial title contender Stanford University.

The second round will be held Saturday, April 23, in the west and Sunday, April 24, in the east. The first-round winners will be gunning for a spot in the Women's DI Elite championship game, to be held May 7 at Saint Mary's College as part of the USA Rugby College 15s National Championships.