The Northwest Collegiate Rugby Conference is in a bit of a new era, but that era may also bring back the same results.
Defending champion Western Washington got off to a solid start in the conference on Saturday, beating Oregon 35-17 in Eugene, OR.
Why that matters is, in part, because the host Ducks are certainly a contender for the NCRC crown and last week lost a close one to Chico State 27-24. While that was a warmup game, it showed that Oregon might be a serious challenger.
That result, however, put everyone in the NCRC on notice.
Certainly WWU was ready, and two tries from wing Darius Brown and a huge game offensively from prop JoJo Alkhedairy (who also rumbled in for a try) led the Vikings to the win. A pair of freshmen in scrumhalf Terrell Nelson and prop Nate Slayton were also solid.
This year the NCRC has been split into an A group and a B group. This is basically a top level, which consists of WWU, Boise State, Washington State, and Oregon, and a second tier, with Eastern Washington, Gonzaga, Idaho, Oregon State, and Western Oregon.
The idea is to reduce the number of blowouts for conference teams that are still developing.
WWU, with this weekend's victory, is in solid shape.