USA Rugby’s eligibility committee(s) have changed drastically in the last 8 months, with the once overarching, all-encompassing eligibility committee being abolished in favor of separate committees serving the college or club game exclusively. The new eligibility rules are the new eligibility committees’ first cracks at legislation.
Part of the new eligibility rules, those pertaining to the club 7s game, were announced several months ago, prior to the club 7s season. And many of the 15s regulations were foreshadowed by decisions the new club eligibility committee made during their existence in the latter half of the 2010/2011 competitive cycle.
Perhaps the most public of those decisions was the Aspen-to-Glendale debacle, where numerous players who attempted to transfer from defunct Aspen to Glendale midseason were denied the right to play in the postseason. Precedents set by previous eligibility committees, including the one that presided over the game the first half of the 2010/2011 competitive cycle, were reversed or ignored.
Some of the new regulations that appear relevant to the Aspen-to-Glendale situation:
The Eligbility Committees reserve the “Power to Amend or Make Further Provisions During the Season In the event that any USAR Eligibility Committee considers it is in the interests of USAR or an USAR Competition, it may amend Eligibility Regulations and/or make further regulations during a Season.”
An eligible senior club player “must not have played in a Qualifying Match for any other Club, regardless of the division of, or the geographical distance between the two clubs, during the Fifteens Competitive Season.
A common acceptable exemption from an eligibility regulation: “Legitimate geographic relocation for non-rugby reasons. Waiver request must be accompanied with documentation of extraordinary circumstances: job or military transfer, enrollment in educational program, personal situation. The timing of the request (league standing and remaining schedule of the original club) will factor into waiver consideration.”
The last several years, and maybe during the entire history of clubs fielding multiple competitive side, there have been complaints about a higher-level player representing his club’s lower-division side.
The outcry was fairly loud when OMBAC won the 2010 DIII title after pulling out of Super League and DI competition that same season. Metropolis, which fields a DI side, followed OMBAC as DIII titlists in 2011. The Midwest has placed increasingly suffocating restrictions on their Super League sides fielding teams in DI, resulting in the Chicago Lions’ exit from the RSL.
The club eligibility committee was apparently listening to the outcry. New Rules pertaining to clubs fielding teams in multiple divisions of play:
The movement of lower division players to upper division sides in Qualifying Matches played on the same day and/or weekend is allowed only when the lower division match is played before the upper division match. Up to three (3) players may be listed as a RESERVE PLAYER for the higher division Qualifying Match. That limit may be increased to four (4) RESERVE PLAYERS if at least one of those players is a front row specialist. Otherwise a player is permitted to play for only one divisional side per weekend. In addition to the two (2) match minimum cited in Section 3.2-b, a player must play in at least one additional Qualifying Match, for a minimum of three (3) Qualifying Matches, at the divisional (or lower) level entered in the USA Rugby Championship Event.
Any player who has started in at least two (2) or played in three (3) or more of a club‟s Rugby Super League or Women‟s Premier League matches, or has played in the RSL or WPL Playoffs during the current competitive season, is not eligible to play in any other division of a USA Rugby Championships.
Any player who has played in 50% or more of a club‟s Qualifying Matches in a higher division is not eligible to play in a lower division of the USA Rugby Championships.
There are several more changes to the eligibility regulations, especially when it pertains to the high school sector, so a full review of the regulations is encouraged.
The Tukapa Rugby Club in Taranaki is planning a rugby game pre-Ireland v. USA in New Zealand.
However, their original opponents, Olympic Club, can’t make it, so they are looking for American opposition.
Any American players in Taranaki are encouraged to come out and play. The club is hosting USA supporters throughout the week and have decorated their club in red, white and blue in honor of the Eagles.
The game is scheduled to occur on Sunday, September 11 at noon.
The game will be filmed for the Grassroots Rugby Show on New Zealand television.
The Tukapa Club team will be made up of players from all their grades.
The Rugby Super League (RSL) confirmed Wednesday that the Chicago Lions have pulled out of the league.
The Lions made the choice due to a new Midwest RFU rule that would preclude virtually any player with Super League experience from playing down in DI.
The Lions did not want to pull out of DI competition and wanted to keep options open for multiple teams, and so pulled out of the Super League to ensure more games for more players.
A statement released by RSL Commissioner Sean Kelly said, in part: “the RSL regrets that the Chicago Lions have decided not to participate in the 2012 season, and instead will be competing in the Midwest D1 Men’s League … Neither the Lions, nor the RSL were given advanced notice of this rule change, and RSL teams had no way of managing their squad last spring to prepare for this rule change.
“It is most unfortunate that the Midwest has retroactively enacted a new rule change that unfairly targets developing RSL players. Prior to this new ruling RSL teams were allowed to play no more than 7 RSL players from the previous season in any D1 game.
“The RSL is disappointed that these new rules were enacted 3 weeks prior to the start of the Midwest’s Fall D1 Men’s season, and that they have forced the Lions to make a decision that determines their future with such little notice.”
Indiana finished fourth in the Midwest East last season. In RUGBYMag’s final 2010/2011 DI Top 25 they were ranked 11th. Why? Because the Midwest East was the murderer’s row of college rugby.
Indiana defeated two College Premier Division teams (Notre Dame and Ohio State) and was an injury time JP Eloff penalty away from upsetting eventual national champs Davenport in the Midwest playoffs.
How many full-time starters have the Mudsharks lost over the summer? None.
“We graduated two players that were only part-time starters. I think I have 22 kids that played first-team at any given time,” said first-year Indiana head coach and long-time IU pack coach Chuck Fultz.
“In my forward pack I’ve lost absolutely nothing. I have forwards that are starting their third year with me in my program, in my style of play. We’re a pretty forward-oriented team with some big, strong kids and we work hard at it.”
Captaining Indiana and guiding their pack is No. 8 and Midwest all star Kyle Strohman.
“He’s just a great player. He’s goat a work ethic like I’ve never seen,” said Fultz, who’s been in the game 41 years. “In all those years, Kyle Strohmans, in my estimation, are few and far between. He is a very dedicated, athletically talented young man and he has decided to take the reigns this season and be our captain.”
Another coach favorite in the pack is hooker Charlie Clarke, who was voted the IU forward MVP last year and back MVP the year prior as a center.
“He’s a wrestler. He’s got the center of gravity. He’s a natural athlete. He’s our best all-around guy,” Fultz. “For some reason, the Midwest select side did not elect to take Charlie this year, which is a tragedy, because Charlie’s our best all-around guy.”
Indiana’s season will be decided in the first three weeks when they take on favorites Bowling Green, Miami and Davenport to open league play.
Written by Alex Goff
Wednesday, 31 August 2011 14:02
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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