A new collegiate conference with five college teams from Texas and Oklahoma will begin play in 2012-2013.
Organized the by T5½ Rugby Development Group, the Allied Rugby Conference will feature both a fall 7s competition and a spring 15s competition.
Conference paperwork has been submitted to USA Rugby for approval. The ARC includes five charter members: Oklahoma University, Sam Houston State University, St. Edwards University, Texas A&M University, and Texas Tech University.
The conference, which is expected to compete on the D1-AA level, will look to partner with other local entities such as Rugby Texas, The Texas Rugby Union, and the Texas Rugby Referee Association.
Texas A&M and Oklahoma have only recently pulled out of D1-A, while Sam Houston will move from the Southwest Rugby Conference where they were 4-3.
Texas Tech and St. Edward’s both competed in DII this past season – Tech because they needed somewhere to play, and St. Edward’s as part of their rise from DIII. Competing in the Texas DII competition, St. Edward’s was 5-0 and Tech 4-1 (on their only loss they went down to St. Edward’s 23-21).
ARC Executive Director Johnny Smith said in a release that the primary goal of the ARC is to assist clubs to reach their maximum potential and raise the standard of rugby throughout the region.
“T5 ½ has worked diligently for the past two years to provide low-cost, high quality rugby services to the rugby community, so our thinking was that we could bring the same professional attitude to a collegiate rugby conference,” Smith said. “When we first had the idea for the conference, we sought out teams that were looking for something new, something bigger than their individual club. We want all of the clubs in the ARC to improve, both on and off the field. The ARC is looking to give the clubs much more than just a competition or pathway to Nationals. While the conference does not currently have the required number of teams to garner an automatic bid to nationals for the conference champion, we believe the professional approach T5 ½ brings to the table, along with sponsors such as World Rugby Shop, and the inclusion of clubs with a ‘big-picture’ mentality, will allow all of our goals to be accomplished.”
Also of interest is the fact that the ARC announced a desire to pursue something akin to bowl games – challenge matches with other conferences.
Another stated goal of the competition is garnering an automatic qualifier to the CRC 7s event in June of 2013.
“We have some great programs included in the ARC that can provide both top notch competition and marketing to the CRC 7s. We will have a full ARC 7s series in the fall that will offer our members the best opportunity to seize upon the momentum that Olympic 7s has provided to rugby,” said interim competitions director Craig Coates.
The conference has landed a sponsorship from World Rugby Shop.
"As a company, World Rugby Shop constantly strives to support those groups and organizations that help move our game forward with high standards, professionalism, and ambition. We are proud to say that we have partnered with just such a group with the Allied Rugby Conference. Their commitment to making a competition structure that benefits the participating teams, referees and sponsors like us, speaks to their desire to create a league with a vision. World Rugby Shop is happy to be a part of making that vision a reality," said Brad Kilpatrick, Partnership Manager for World Rugby Shop.
T5 ½ will continue to accept applications for the conference until Aug. 1st 2012.
“The only difference now is acceptance to the conference will be based on charter member voting. We would like to add 2-3 qualified teams but are excited to move forward with the 5 charter members” Smith said. If you are interested in applying, please check out our temporary ARC home page at www.t5andahalf.com and submit an inquiry. You may also contact Johnny Smith directly at