Iona, Delaware, and West Virginia are moving to other competitions, leaving a competitive septet of St. Bonaventure, Buffalo, Kutztown, Penn State, Army, Wheeling Jesuit, and newcomer Notre Dame College.
NDC joins the Rugby East after winning the D1AA championship this past spring. Wheeling Jesuit is still in the Rugby East, but concerns remain about the program's long-term future after head coach Tommy Duffy stepped down and the school added a football team.
The Rugby East will begin play on September 16 and will play out over eight weekends, with each team playing six games. The final game, November 4 between Kutztown and Penn State, could well decide the conference.
Meanwhile, the conference is following the model of the 2016-17 Mid-South Conference and auditioning two other teams. American International College and New England College will be playing independent schedules with a Rugby East-heavy influence. The implication is that if everything works out those teams will join the Rugby East for the fall of 2018. Both AIC and NEC were left without a conference when the East Coast Rugby Conference dissolved this spring. Most of the ECRC teams joined the new Liberty Conference, along with most of the teams from the Empire Rugby Conference and a few others.