Thursday, January 15, 2015

Gaps Don't Tackle - That College-to-Club Eligibility Rule

USA Rugby answered a request from constituents to provide more rugby playing minutes for young ruggers by allowing college ruggers to play for club sides without losing their collegiate eligibility. This Is Texas Rugby discussed what this means with USA Club Rugby Manager, Erik Geib. We discovered that the rule is not as simple on the face of it as some outside of USA Rugby may have intimated.

This rule is explained in detail, after the jump...

The term for affected athletes in the Competition Management System will be Collegiate Guest Players. USAR's Eligibility Committee defines a Collegiate Guest Player as:
"A player who began the 15s competitive season with a collegiate club and wishes to play with a senior club at the conclusion of the player’s collegiate competitive season. The conclusion of the competitive season is defined by the final match of the team’s potential competitive 15s season (e.g. the championship match of the fall or spring playoffs, not the date at which the individual player’s team was eliminated. Collegiate guest players must have their transfer approved prior to participation in a League/Qualifying match with any senior club."
So who in the Texas and Red River Rugby Conference area would be eligible to make the transfer? Not players on the Red River College Rugby Conference teams (Baylor, Oklahoma, Texas Christian, Texas, Texas A&M, & Texas Tech), because the D1A Rugby Championship match is May 9th. Not players on the Lone Star Conference teams, because the NSCRO Championship is April 26th. Technically, only those rugby clubs from Southwest Conference teams (excluding Texas A&M) may allow their club members to become Collegiate Guest Players on local men's clubs.

When I asked Geib to explain this he stated, "It's not when you've lost enough to no longer be in contention. It's when your competition's playoff is complete - e.g. the ACRL is done."

So who benefits in Texas and the RRRC?

Excluding Texas A&M, the Southwest Conference is made up of Rice, SFA, Texas State, UHouston, and UNT. SFA is too far away from any men's team for an interested player to afford the commute. Texas State could conceivably transfer players to the San Marcos Greys (D3) for more playing time. Rice & UHouston could transfer players to HARC or HURT, but both of those senior clubs are top heavy in the forwards and may not need players. It is conceivable that UNT sends it's forwards down to Dallas on the weekends to play for the Quins D1b squad (there is a coaching connection between the two teams). However, I doubt that will happen, because UNT has a fairly full schedule this Spring.

Expect New Orleans and Baton Rouge to have LSU rugby players on their game-day squads. LSU did not have a rugby season due to an in-school suspension AND their season is over as the SCRC is a part of the ACRC.

So yes, the Red River Rugby Conference could be bolstered by youth from some of the collegiate ranks. It will not be an en masse migration, though.

What about the elite player waiver of the rule? That only applies to current collegiate players that have been in All-American/High-Performance pipeline (maybe 2-3 players in Texas Colleges and those in D1A Rugby clubs). It also only applies to ARP clubs and Seattle - the PRP is not covered under this eligibility ruling because it rejected USAR's sanctioning offer. If only 2-3 players who are only eligible to play at six clubs that are a bit out of reach for a commute to practice, I doubt we'll see our ruggers involved in a waiver of that ruling.

These eligibility changes are a part of a larger plan by USAR to get young and talented rugby players more game time. Geib said, "This is a 'first step' or 'pilot' towards future eligibility changes, as the rules are testing the college-to-club connection without completely opening Pandora's box. The intent of the changes was to find constructive 'no-harm' ways to enable players to play as much rugby as possible. If these exemptions aren't abused, we may be able to open the door further in future cycles."

He adds, "Hopefully, as the rules are currently constructed, players will be provided more opportunities without hurting their college programs and their college competitions."

All-in-all, maybe 10 college ruggers in Texas may get to play some D1/D1b men's rugby this Spring under this ruling. 


  1. SFA guys have been playing with Shreveport off and on for years. 3-8 of us practiced and played with them from 2007-2010. Even making a D1 run to sweet 16 in 2009. It's only 95-100 miles. With this option it could help those who want to continue playing 15's and can't help their 7's side. Point of the article is well taken though.

  2. We were all grad students or non-students living in Nacogdoches at that time.

    1. Grad-students and non-students are obviously the ones not affected by this rule. Would you have been making that trip if you were an undergraduate student-athlete?

      Thanks for reading!

  3. John Anderson It is great that USA Rugby has finally seen the advantages of allowing Ruggers the opportunity to play more rugby, possibly at at higher level. It is important that Club teams continue to help support the local college teams.

    Looking back on the past, a few clubs have been hurt from misunderstanding the eligibility rules. The TRU Division III finals a couple years back was drastically impacted. Two teams were added (Blacks/Galveston) and two teams dropped (Quins/Katy) for fielding players that were initially CIPPed after the Transfer Deadline (1st April) and played in Cup match(s) which were won but considered forfeits prior to the Championships.

    This years Posted USA Rugby Transfer Deadline is the 1st of April.
    1. Is there special consideration being given to College Transfers this year as all the Area College Championships are after the 1st of April Deadline for transfers set by USA Rugby?
    2. If there is special consideration for the transferring after the posted 1st of April Deadline; what is the latest point of the of cup season are the College players are eligible to play in USA Rugby Championship matches (TRU DIV1/Div2 both require a three match minimum to be played in order to compete in a USA Rugby Championship-believe this is Final 8 and better)? Ie. As long as a college player plays in all three Sweet 16 matches they meet the three game eligibility requirements to play in the USA Rugby Round of eight or better?
    3. Do other Regions College Championships end prior to the 1st of April this year? Does this give a competitive advantage to one region over another?


    1. 1 & 2 - No, sir. Allowing players to transfer so late in the season interrupts their academic rhythm during mid-terms and finals.
      3. With the three-player-transfer-per-senior-club limit? No significant competitive advantage is gained by adding three players to a club.

  4. School is for learning..Club is for Rugby...What is it with americans and Rugby?..It's not a school's what you play on the weekend for your club.Yeah so you play for your school/college but school is for learning..Weekend Club is for learning rugby. All School Rugby games are usually held during the week and don't affect weekend club games. Why is school dictating who plays? All you're doing is holding yourself back..If they want to play serious rugby?..Join a club. Using rugby as an excuse to get into better schools? You people need to rethink how you play and what is more important. If they get into a better schools. Great!..They join a local club and you still play rugby collegiate during the week and club during the weekends. You need to sort your shit out.

    1. Thank you for your valuable input, Pet. We are certain that if we were as perfect as you think we should be, we'd be as agreeable and tolerant as we think you should be.

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