D1A 2020-2021 Recruiting Hot Take
US Collegiate rugby is in a precarious state, as Covid threatens to completely cancel the entire 2020-2021 season. However, there is still news to be reported as the ball never stops rolling. D1A teams are freshly finished pulling together their recruiting classes, and it must be said that there are a few teams making their intentions for the future very clear. With possibly the biggest recruiting class in the country, Grand Canyon University have ravaged through the class of 2020 and created a massive group of recruits, among them are a few talented players from the likes of Eagle Impact Rugby Academy (a Southern California based rugby academy). It is quite evident new head coach Sean O’Leary has wasted no time on making his mark in the collegiate rugby world. Not far behind is the University of Arizona, who similarly pull in a large freshman class on a regular basis. Their group includes multiple High School All Americans, hopefully the newly acquired talent can push them into being a regular name within the top 10 of the D1A rankings. Many have began to dub the state of Arizona as ‘EIRA Country’ and we hope these players can make it out on the other side, as the scorching state tends to take young rugby careers and crumble them to pieces in less than a year. Central Washington have clearly been busy, signing 14 new athletes, with two of notable honors. Army WestPoint seems to have had a very successful recruiting year, as they may have one of the most talented incoming groups, with four High School All Americans joining them.
Although recruiting is a massive part of collegiate sports, there has to be something said for the schools who have been consistently great over the past few years. Schools like Life, Saint Mary’s, and BYU, who contrary to popular belief, do not recruit in the same capacity to the schools mentioned above. These schools’ sort of have a take what they can get mentality, whatever shows up on day 1 is along for the journey. These teams have been extremely successful due to their coaching and team culture, not due to the talent they have been scouting since the athletes were sophomores in High School.
If this season is to go ahead, it should be a very interesting one. Will the perennial powerhouses be able to continue to outperform the new schools on the block with the incoming high school ‘talent’ or will these programs show that their recruiting has payed dividends?