UC Irvine has been forced to forfeit a pair of Pacific Mountain West matches for playing an ineligible player. Irvine’s 43-7 defeat of USC and 43-15 loss to UC Santa Barbara have been made 28-0 forfeits and result in point deductions in the Pacific Mountain West table, which bump the Anteaters from the conference semifinals. Claremont Colleges will take their place as the fourth seed.
Irvine put in eligibility waiver requests for two Irvine Valley College (IVC) students. IVC is a community college near the UC-Irvine campus.
USA Rugby Eligibility rule 4.2 (d) governing college eligibility states: "The player must play on the team representing the school in which he/she is enrolled."
While the waiver requests were being processed, one of the IVC students played in the aforementioned league matches. The other played for Irvine in non-league reserve matches. USA Rugby denied the eligibility waivers.
“USA Rugby said they were going to deny it just because of the issues of not being a student there,” said Irvine coach and Pacific Mountain West commissioner Vince McLeod. “I argued back and forth with them a little bit, but it was standing, so it was what it was.”
McLeod is the commissioner of the Pacific Mountain West.
The league is still governed by the Southern California Rugby Football Union, because, as Mcleod explained it, the league did not get its constitution ratified prior to the start of the season. A grievance was filed with SCRFU in regards to the ineligible players, leading to the matches being ruled forfeits
Asked why he played the IVC student in a qualifying match while his eligibility was still up in the air, McLeod replied, “We hadn’t heard back, and I really thought, and this is more of a judgment lapse on my end, I really thought it was a slam dunk case.”
Upon the receipt of USA Rugby’s ruling, McLeod, in his capacity as commissioner, took no action against his own team, which had played an ineligible player in a league match. But the email from USA Rugby announcing the decision was also sent to Jim Wilson, former interim commissioner of the league.
Wilson, who serves on the SCRFU executive committee as a DII college rep, made the ruling known to other conference members, including Claremont coach and SCRFU DI college rep Jeremy Ognall. McLeod believes Ognall filed the grievance which led to Irvine's exit from the playoffs.
“Which was frustrating to me, because in October, that’s when I took over as commissioner,” said McLeod of Wilson being copied on the email from USA Rugby. “It seems like it was a little bit of a Jim Wilson and Jeremy situation.
“It seemed very ironic that two guys that are in with SCRFU administration at the top now are CC’d in the email, as well, that we were being banned, and are on the voting competitions committee structure, so it just seems that shouldn’t you guys be removed from that decision altogether? Because it definitely seems like Claremont has some say in it, and they’re the team that benefits from us getting out of it.”
Ognall said he took himself out of the Irvine vote.
McLeod says other teams aren’t playing by the rules, either.
“We have other teams playing with fields that aren’t fully marked, posts that fall over, and other teams have done this for years. The only difference is I finally went out and did it legally and tried to get a petition through USA Rugby, whereas in the past, they just changed their CIPP numbers and no one ever checks,” he said.
“So I’m pretty, pretty disappointed, because we beat (Claremont) head-to-head, and we get treated like this. So I guess what they’re saying now is you need to go about things illegally and change the system.
“I guarantee if you look at people’s CIPP roster, and you actually looked at their legitimate government ID, you would find teams that do not match. If you want to clean house, I think you should clean house with everyone, and not just make it a USC case like in football years ago.”
Texas overcame real adversity Saturday to beat Rice 36-26, win the inaugural Southwest Conference title and earn a spot in the DI-AA Sweet 16.
On their way to the game, three Longhorns were involved in a roll-over vehicle accident on I-10 in Houston. Ekongi Yancy, Peter Mahoney and Alejandro Marquez were carpooling to the game after spending Friday night in Houston. All three went to the hospital, and none suffered serious injury.
Their teammates found out about the accident about 90 minutes before kickoff.
“That was pretty tough to take, because good kids. They’re all good kids,” said Texas coach Butch Neuenschwander.
“Right before kickoff, the only update we had was they were all being taken to the hospital. There were no serious injuries, but still, that weights on you.”
Yancy was the only starter in the accident.
The Longhorns conceded the first try in the opening minutes, and Rice took a 7-0 lead. But Texas stormed back and held a 24-12 advantage heading into halftime. In the second half of an unseasonably warm and humid game, Texas’ stamina prevailed.
“Luckily, my boys hydrated well,” said Neuenschwander. “Rice’s players, in the second half, were dropping like flies from cramps. That had a big play in the game.”
Unfortunately for the Longhorns, they draw defending National Champion Davenport in the round of 16. Fortunately for the Longhorns, Yancy, Mahoney and Marquez will all be healthy and available for the postseason.
USA Men’s 7s Coach Alex Magleby says he’s not upset that his team passed up a kick at goal at the end of the Bowl Final.
The USA were down 14-12 and received a penalty just inside the Kenya 22 with no time left. Folau Niua took a quick tap, passed to his forwards, and on the ensuing possession the ball was jarred loose from Tai Enosa’s hands, essentially ending the game.
“I’m not going to fault the guys for that call,” Magleby told RUGBYMag.com. “They’re 22 meters out. That’s not a guarantee kick for us. Sure, if it’s a guarantee, if it’s 15 meters away, then maybe you take those points. But the way the game was going we had our opportunities to score, and our kickers were tired.”
Magleby added that he liked the fact that the players backed themselves.
“In no way is that decision a negative,” he said. “We could have easily scored and nobody would have brought it up.”
True enough. What might be a negative was an earlier play when the Eagles had a chance to put the Bowl Final away. They won an attacking lineout and sent the ball wide to Rocco Mauer. Mauer seemed to have space enough to go for the corner, but appeared indecisive, in the end running into contact alone, and giving up a penalty. From that sequence Kenya eventually scored.
That kind of confidence – confidence that you can score on anyone, takes time to develop.
It’s worth noting that a year ago in Hong Kong, the USA lost the Bowl Semifinal 14-12 to Japan. In that game, Taylor Mokate dropped a pass that, had he caught it, would have resulted in him scoring the winning try. When asked what happened he was brutally honest:
I was thinking I was about to catch the ball, score the try, and we’d win the game, he said later, and I took my eyes off the ball.
At this level, teams are learning that you need constant vigilance.
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This past Thursday saw another exciting match up with Perry Street Prep (Pride Rugby) facing off against Georgetown Prep in Week 4 of the Metro Area Varsity Conference (MAVRC) season. The previous week saw Prep drop a 19- 3 loss to Gonzaga in the Jesuit Classic and Pride Rugby defeated NOVA 34-5.
Under clear skies and unusually warm temperatures in the mid 80’s, both teams came out trying to establish their pattern of play early. In the first half, it was clearly Georgetown Prep as they dominated possession through simple, tight forward play, methodical controlled rucking/mauling and inside crash balls in the backs. Both teams were physical in contact but in contrast to the Pride, Prep had more control in the contact points and rarely lost possession.
As the half wore on, the whistle blew repeatedly as referee Tom Lyons had work to do to keep Pride onside, and legal in the rucks - all signs that Pride was frustrated with a lack of possession.
Prep most often chose to kick to touch and attempt to regroup from the ensuing lineout. The one time they chose to take an attempt at goal, the kick sailed wide into the eager hands of the Pride’s sophomore flyhalf, Jihad Khabir. Khabir weaved and raced his way 95 meters down the sideline until being pushed into touch, just feet from the goal line.
The lone score of the half began with a Pride lineout. Skipping the flyhalf, the ball went directly to inside center Adrian Ray. Ray quickly moved the ball to outside center Keenan Westry, who split the centers and broke a couple of tackles on his way to the try line. Conversion missed, half time score 5-0.
The second half continued the same as the first with the exception of the Pride defense. Trying to reverse the momentum, the Pride became more aggressive in their defensive pressure and began counter rucking to reverse possession. The tide started to turn as freshman Morris Ray scored his first of two tries on the day as he scampered through several defenders from 50 meters out. Morris is the younger brother of Adrian and also of alumnus Anthony Lewis, who captained the 2011 team. Not to be outdone, Adrian scored minutes later on a crashball.
The intensity of the game seemed to wane as the effects of the heat took their toll and water breaks increased in frequency. The lull was broken in the final 10 minutes when a Pride lineout went intentionally long to take advantage of slow cover at the back. Flanker Christian Adams raced 40 meters through his opposition for his 7th try of the season. Minutes later a quick tap penalty once again sailed into the hands of Morris Ray who sprinted 40 meters as he evaded multiple defenders for the final try of the match.
Former and perhaps future USA lock Hayden Smith is back with Saracens after a stint with the New York Jets.In this video he talks about his experiences in the NFL and his decision to return to Saracens. Read more...
James Madison and UW-Whitewater will take each other on Sunday at 10:30AM ET in USA Rugby's DII 3rd/4th consolation game.The game is livestreamed below or here on RUGBYMag's YouTube channel. Read more...
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