According to a document forwarded to RUGBYMag.com, and confirmed through additional sources, the Utah Brothers rugby club has been given the OK to participate in the USA Rugby Men's DI club playoffs thanks to the ruling of an appelate panel.
This follows a long, vocal, and contentious debate between the Brothers - represented by Head Coach Tim Lewis - members of the Pacific Coast RFU, and USA Rugby.
The Brothers were formed in early March after the Utah Warriors Super League club was disqualified from RSL play due to a series of paperwork failures, including failure to register its players. The Brothers club was then created, registering players before the crucial March 15 deadline, and bringing in Lewis as coach.
Lewis inquired with the PCRFU what Utah had to do to be legal to compete in the PCRFU and Competitive Region 1. According to the appellate document, the PCRFU made a series of errors in providing information, key among them being a) telling the Provo club that a season of games against D1 and Super League teams was sufficient as a competitive season and b) not publishing anywhere their competition guidelines, leaving it up to clubs to figure things out on their own.
The Appellate document, authored by Jim Russell, chastised the PCRFU strongly for failure to be clear about their rules, failure to publish those rules, and failure to review those rules annually, as required by USA Rugby.
To quote from the document: "... the main basis CSC used to deny Utah Brothers eligibility for the 2012 Div I playoffs comes from a set of Rules which clearly refer only to conditions in effect only in 2010 and that have not been continued, approved, updated, or published in accordance to the USAR Bylaws."
This finding backs up Lewis's often vociferous (and not well received) complaints that he and his club were never provided with anything in writing to show what rules the club should follow.
As a result, the Brothers will be allowed to participate in the CR 1 playoffs, because they did play a league season (two matches against Provo, which they won) and have attempted to play a series of other competitive matches.
Following are the final paragraphs of the document, and they give a scathing indictment of how the PCRFU has operated in recent years, and also slams USA Rugby for its inability to define an acceptable club competition:
In summary, there were no publicly available USAR rules or guidelines to show Utah Brothers how it could play an appropriate schedule and become eligible for the Men’s Div I Playoffs; what Rules there were had not been adopted, approved, and published as required by the appropriate USAR Bylaw, and were nowhere to be found. When Utah Brothers, and its fellow Div I Utah team, inquired on how to schedule and become eligible, they were told by appropriate officials to play 6 games of Div I or higher. Utah Brothers tried very hard to accomplish such a schedule, and it would be wrong now to disqualify them because they relied on erroneous information which they could not check.
Utah Brothers may not be disqualified from participating in the 2012 USAR National Championship Series Men’s Division I playoffs by CSC simply for failing to comply with the provisions of Section 3 of the 2009-10 USA Rugby Men’s Club Division I Competition Rules.
The following are my thoughts only, and are not reflective of any other members of the Appellate Panel, or of the Panel itself.
I concur that Section 3 of the Div I Rules cannot be used to disqualify Utah Brothers. I am dismayed, however, that for whatever reason there apparently are no applicable rules for this playoff competition, that whatever Rules there were have not been updated and republished as required, and in this instant and complete Information Age the appropriate provision are nowhere to be found, such as the USAR website. In addition, as happens all too often, people relied on custom, previous example, and sometimes vague and inexplicable provisions, which were again not current or available. The problems here were magnified by the late and rushed process that arose, which understandably led to unintended errors. But I can find no provision within USAR, or anywhere else, that establishes deadlines by which matters such as this have to be resolved. Haste does indeed make waste, made worse by the lack of current information. I hope that in the near future, and carrying forward, the applicable provisions are timely reviewed, updated, and made available, so that such a mess does not recur.