The USA Rugby Youth/HS Committee is considering several plans to change some of the eligibility rules and nomenclature within the High School game.
Specifically, the Committee is looking at changing the name of U19 rugby to High School Club, thus marrying the two versions of the high school game. The idea behind it is to make it easier for school-sanctioned teams to play U19 teams; the string attached, however, is that the new High School Club teams will have to have all their players in high school.
In addition, the Committee is looking to eliminate the rule that allows single-school teams to retain their single-school status while fielding players from other high schools, or, in some case, players who have graduated the year before.
Both of these changes would make the high school game a more pure high school competition.
"The long-term outcome of this vision will be to create a High School focused season leading to a state championship; followed by a ‘travel or club’ season, potentially leading to a national championship," said Youth & High School Committee member Kurt Weaver. "These travel teams might be all-star teams, city based club programs, or even sevens clubs, but the focus will be on an actual season for these programs instead of the one-off tournaments we currently support for our select teams. Through this process, both our saturation and our rugby talent will improve."
Weaver said he has been soliciting feedback from teams and coaches.
"Although this change is only for the National Tournament eligibility, we are realistic that these changes have a habit of trickling down to our local leagues," he said.
The plan is to run the changes through the Youth & High School Committee (chaired by Bill Middleton) this week, followed by vetting by the Rugby Committee (chaired by Jeff Smolka) and the Eligibility Committee (chaired by John Mullett). From there the proposed changes will go before the Board in December.
"Hopefully we can have this ratified by the New Year," said Weaver.
The proposed changes would not take effect until the 2011-2012 season, said Weaver. Feedback from teams showed that making the changes this year would be rough on teams, some of whom have begun their preseason work.
U19 designation changed to "High School Club."
Players on High School Clubs must be in high school to play.
Players in Single-School teams must be current students at the school they play for.
Age requirements (must not have turned 19 by September 1 of the School Year) remain.
Players who graduate during the season can still play.
Provisions allowing players who graduated last year to the year before to still play will be stricken.