While several Middlebury College teams pursue NCAA Division III titles this weekend — women’s soccer at home in a sectional and the cross-country runners out in Indiana — a Panther club team will also be seeking a national championship, namely the perennially successful Middlebury rugby squad.
The Panther ruggers are hosting a team from a slightly larger school (OK, about 17 times bigger), Penn State, in a Division I rugby semifinal at 1 p.m. on Saturday. The field is out behind Kenyon Arena. The Panthers, a Division I-AA team that is the two-time East Coast Rugby Conference champion, are undefeated after thumping host Stony Brook, 57-3, in an NCAA quarterfinal this past Saturday.
Program assistant Ben Wells said the lines between D-I and 1-AA “are blurring” and the title the Panthers and the Nittany Lions are pursuing — the American Collegiate Rugby Championship — is considered D-I. Wells said the Panthers are excited to take on the challenge on Saturday, and, of course, fan support would be welcome.