Liberty Conference Holds On To D1A Hopes

The Liberty Conference is still waiting for word on whether it will receive D1A membership, and there are some signs that the league might not get an answer this year.

The Liberty Conference is comprised of 18 teams, mostly from the old East Coast Rugby and Empire Conferences. Only two of the teams involved, Iona and Delaware, were D1A last year. According to Fordham coach Andrew Gheraldi, who is the Liberty Conference commissioner, the conference has agreed to most of the D1A Rugby criteria for joining but has balked somewhat at one of them, providing a counter-offer.

Liberty Conference Teams: Rutgers, Boston College, Binghamton, Albany, Brockport, Colgate, Cortland, Syracuse, Delaware, Iona, Fordham, Stony Brook, Connecticut, Fairfield, UMass, Northeastern, Rhode Island, Tufts

D1A Rugby has instituted a fine system for teams that leave D1A within three years. The idea is to stop teams from bouncing up and down every year. Gheraldi said he and the Liberty teams support the spirit of that rule, but they are looking to institute a rule whereby teams that drop out early cannot return to D1A for three additional years.

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"Most of our teams are familiar with each other," Gheraldi said. "We're teams looking to grow at the D1A level. We're all committed to it and growing the game together. And D1A needs a presence in the New York-Boston markets."

But is that enough? There's a feeling among some D1A conferences that the Liberty teams are not, overall, strong enough for D1A. Gheraldi likens the Liberty teams to mid-major college basketball teams.

"We've got teams who will compete and we're excited for the challenge," Gheraldi said. "We want to step up and do this together, and we won't let college rugby down." 

Meanwhile, Stony Brook head coach Jerry Mirro will be taking a Liberty Conference all-star team to Bermuda to play a Texas collegiate all-star team as a curtain-raiser for the Saracens versus USA Islanders game on August 10. 

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