Monday, December 29, 2014

Gaps Don't Tackle - University System Rugby idea for Texas College Clubs

Over the last twenty years, the University System has gained prominence in Texas. Texas State University, the University of Texas, Texas A&M University, and Texas Tech University each have university systems with member universities that fall under their auspices.

When I was coaching rugby at A&M in the '90s, I dreamed of ways to start clubs at the various TAMU System campuses. While I never made that dream a reality, some relatively recent developments in Texas College Rugby have caused me to rethink the idea.

With regards to college rugby, the Texas State System has three members with rugby clubs of both genders: Texas State, Sam Houston, and Lamar. The UT System has four member with rugby clubs and three have women's clubs: UT, UT-San Antonio, UT-Dallas, and UT-El Paso. The TAMU System has two members with current clubs and one starting in 2015: Texas A&M, Prairie View A&M, and coming in 2015 TAMU-Central Texas (Kileen). Only one of those currently has a women's club (A&M). Finally, the Texas Tech System has two members with rugby clubs of both genders: Texas Tech and Angelo State.

A viable preseason (September) activity for these clubs would be respective System Cup Matches or Tournaments (depending on travel and available time). For example, the Texas State System Cup could be a tournament in which the respective clubs of both genders play round robin matches for Cup Points. Each club would play two matches on the weekend and accumulate points. The University with the most cumulative points between clubs of both genders at the end of the tournament wins the System Cup. Another possibility would be a rugby skills and development clinic for system clubs one weekend at one university and separate men's and women's tournaments at the other two universities the next weekend. In a situation with only two clubs available, a home and away series of matches over two weekends could be held toward similar ends.

The key is to play rugby early in the Fall semester when campus recruiting is peaking and to give it some meaning that is more than a friendly, but not as much as a conference match. This way new players gain experience and clubs get meaningful matches at the same time..

There are many possibilities to how this concept can be organized. The point is to use the University System connections to play more rugby and build solid relationships with other clubs and the respective universities.

There are many more ideas to getting our clubs and ruggers playing more rugby and better rugby. This may not be the one that strikes a tune in your rugger's heart. Perhaps this idea sparks another, different idea that gets more people playing better rugby.

Getting more people to play better rugby is most important.

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