Written by Pat Clifton
Monday, 11 July 2011 20:29
| 2011 College 7s Championship Being Formed
Murmurs about a 2011 USA Rugby National Collegiate 7s Championship have been getting louder and louder lately. When Kevin Battle, chair of the Men’s College Competitions Committee, first said creating a 7s national championship was on his committee’s to-do list, it seemed as though such a competition was a year or two away from formation.
Urging from the Board of Directors has moved the creation of a 7s national championship to the forefront of the Competitions Committee’s priorities, and now even dates and a qualification structure for a 2011 competition are beginning to bubble to the surface.
USA Rugby has targeted December 16-17 as their desired date for a 24-team national championship tournament. The venue is undetermined, and Battle says the date of the championship event could change to conform to the availability of a venue.
“It’s not solidified just yet, but we’re certainly edging closer and trying to get those definite answers as soon as possible so we can let people know,” said Battle.
“We’re looking at about 12 conference or regional tournaments. So, for instance, SoCal won’t have our own conference tournament, because I don’t think there will be enough teams to garner an automatic bid, but say like a California region, which would include the likes of say St. Mary’s, San Diego State, Santa Barbara and Cal Poly, that don’t fit in, say the Pac-12 or Big Ten or SEC.
“There will be 12 automatic bids…and then we’ll have 12 at-large bids, and that’s still to be determined. It’ll be the Competitions Committee, as well as maybe a few other folks we invite, who sort of weight in.”
Battle says each qualifier tournament is required to film its games and make them available to the Competitions Committee, as some tournaments may see multiple teams receive bids to Nationals.
“Obviously, a lot of tournaments are going to have a lot of really great teams, and it might behoove us to have a second or third, and maybe even a fourth-place, team get a seed and chance to play in the national championships.”
The regional tournaments will be the avenue for teams who aren’t included to invite-only qualifiers. The Atlantic Coast Invitational, for example, is expected to be a qualifier, and only teams who compete in the traditional ACC will be invited to play. Each of the conference-based qualifiers will have the option to close their events.
But, “There needs to be an opportunity for every team to be able to play their way in,” said Battle. “That’s the definition of having a national champion, is that it absolutely is the best and everybody has a chance.”
Battle said eight of the 12 qualifying tournaments have been identified and have concreted their dates, but he would not divulge those tournaments. Below I have listed the tournaments rumored to be qualifiers. It’s unlikely both the Heart of America and the Big XII will be qualifiers, but parties attached to both tournaments believe theirs is the qualifier.
Big Ten Madison, Wisc.
Atlantic Coast Greensboro, NC
Heart of America Lawrence, Kan.
Independence Conf. Tallahassee, Fla.
Big XII Norman, Okla.
Pac 12 Stanford, Calif.
Ivy League TBD
Written by Bernie Decker
Tuesday, 28 June 2011 15:07
| New Varsity Program in Suburban St. Louis
Lindenwood University, a four-year liberal arts institution located in St. Charles, Missouri, has announced the launch of a varsity rugby program and subsequent scholarship funding of one of the most comprehensive college programs in America. The move has enabled head coach Ron Laszewski to travel nationally to competitions such as the Rocky Mountain Challenge to recruit elite-level players for classes in the fall term and the future.
Laszewski credits Lindenwood’s progressive approach to varsity sports and its thorough research regards the growth of high school rugby in the U.S., and their recognition of the sport’s potential. In addition to freshman and transfer signees, an existing domestic and international student base will supplement the university’s rugby program.
Lindenwood rugby scholarships range from partial to full depending on various factors such as academics, test scores, rugby ability, athletic honors in all sports and character. Varsity rugby student athletes receive tuition assistance, on-campus housing, all meals, all travel expenses (with per diem meal allotments), uniforms and teamwear. Athletic trainers and strength and conditioning personnel will be in attendance at all training sessions and matches. The student rugby athletes will be able to avail themselves of varsity weight, meeting, video, and locker rooms as well as access to Lindenwood’s high intensity training (HIT) center. Varsity athletes are eligible for an additional $2,400-per-year in work study funds.
The coaching staff will also include four assistant coaches including an Australian graduate assistant who, as a player, came through the Brumbies Academy. In return for earning his MBA, the GA will concentrate on rugby-specific tasks of coaching the three-quarter line, film analysis, recruiting, and one-on-one player development beyond training.
Lindenwood has signed a few southern hemisphere recruits such as Randwick (Sydney, Australia) leading scorer Brendan Davis. But the majority of players are American with recruits from Colorado, Tennessee, Georgia, California, Missouri, Indiana and other states.
The squad will also feature cross-over athletes such as Lindenwood sophomore sprinter Matthius Harris. Harris has a personal best-time 10.6 100M and is currently tearing up the St. Louis summer 7s league. Laszewski is adamant that his team will be “predominantly an American squad which is vital to the University’s long-term goals as we aim to do our part to help raise the level of rugby in this country.”
In the upcoming 2011-2012 season LU will begin play in DII, but Laszewski intends to advance yearly through the competitive levels as LU’s roster solidifies. Their home pitch, in construction as we go to print, will be fully-functional for the fall matches and will afford the latest in synthetic field technology.
With none of the costly, big-name varsity sports teams to drain the budget, Lindenwood has been able to concentrate on less familiar athletic activities. Lindenwood currently sponsors 48 varsity programs and the payback of 43 national championships in the last 10 years would bear out the wisdom in their choice.
Written by Press Release
Tuesday, 21 June 2011 11:38
| USA Rugby Certifies College Conferences
BOULDER, COLO. — The USA Rugby College Eligibility Committee recently finalized the certification of 10 men’s Division I conferences, one women’s Division I conference, two Division II men’s and one women’s Division III conference.
The two new women’s conferences will join one other women’s rugby conference that was formed earlier this year, Rugby Northeast, which competes in Division II.
Playoff pathways for the new conferences for the 2011-2012 season will be determined by the Men’s and Women’s College Competition Committee.
Per USA Rugby rules, College Premier Division teams entering teams in Division I conference competition will not be eligible for the Division I playoffs. Canadian teams are also not eligible for the playoffs.
DIVISION I MEN’S CONFERENCES
The 10 certified conferences are: Eastern Pennsylvania Rugby Conference, Heart of America Rugby Conference, Ivy Rugby Conference, Mideast Rugby Conference, Midwest Rugby Conference, New York State Rugby Conference, Northern California Rugby Conference, Northwest Collegiate Rugby Conference, Pacific Mountain West Rugby Conference and South Independent Rugby Conference.
Previously certified conferences: Atlantic Coast Rugby League, East Coast Rugby Conference, Southeastern Rugby Conference and Southwest Collegiate Rugby Conference
Members of the Eastern Pennsylvania Rugby Conference:
Conference Commissioner: Dan McHugh
Members of the Heart of America Rugby Conference:
Interim Conference Commissioner: Miles Hunter (Oklahoma State)
Members of the Ivy Rugby Conference:
Conference President: Steve Siano
Members of the Mideast Rugby Conference:
Conference Commissioner: Tom Rooney (Ohio State)
Members of the Midwest Rugby Conference:
Conference Commissioner: Tom Rooney (Ohio State)
Members of the New York State Rugby Conference:
Conference Commissioner: Andrew McDonnell
Members of the Northern California Rugby Conference:
Conference Commissioner: Matt Sherman (Stanford)
San Jose State
Members of the Northwest Collegiate Rugby Conference:
Interim Conference Commissioner: Mark Webber (Oregon State)
Simon Fraser (B.C.)
Members of the Pacific Mountain West Rugby Conference:
Conference Commissioner: TBD
UC Santa Barbara
UC San Diego
Members of the South Independent Rugby Conference:
Conference Commissioner: Jody Hensley (Middle Tennessee State)
Middle Tennessee State
DIVISION I WOMEN’S CONFERENCES
The Pacific Mountain Rugby Conference is the first Division I women’s rugby conference.
Members of the Pacific Mountain Rugby Conference:
Conference Commissioner: TBD
UC San Diego
UC Santa Barbara
DIVISION II MEN’S CONFERENCES
The previously certified Men’s Division II conference is Rugby Northeast.
Members of the Dixie Rugby League:
Conference Commissioner: Eddie Roberts (North Alabama)
Members of the Southern Rugby Conference:
Conference Commissioner: John Roberts (Furman)
College of Charleston
DIVISION III WOMEN’S CONFERENCES
The New England Women’s Collegiate Rugby Conference (NEWCRC) is the first Division III women’s rugby conference.
Members of the NEWCRC:
Conference Commissioner: Ben Murray (Smith)
Written by Alex Goff
Wednesday, 08 June 2011 18:23
| Italian Up-and-Comer Looks at USA Options
Rodwell is a punishing runner with professional experience
Playing rugby professionally might be a dream for many, but it’s not a perfect dream for some.
Take Sebastian Rodwell. Rodwell is a 20-year-old center who spent the past season playing center for Cavallieri in the top Italian league. He was a regular selection for the Italian U20 team until he aged out, helping them to a FIRA European title in 2009 and a Junior World Trophy title in 2010.
This spring he was called up to the Italy A side for the Churchill Cup … and decided not to accept. Why? Because Rodwell also qualifies for the USA (he has a German mother, English father, lives in Italy, and was born in California). He has, this past year, grown concerned that young professionals in Italy can be treated like so much cattle, with little thought given to their futures should they get injured, or simply lose form.
“I knew if I played for Italy A in just one game, I would be locked in with Italy for the rest of my life,” Rodwell told RUGBYMag.com. “What I wanted to do instead was get an education. I wanted to keep my options open to play for the USA, and I wanted to come to the United States to attend college and play rugby.”
Rodwell is a 6-2, 230-pound center who loves the contact. His game centers around running hard into large groups of tacklers, and forcing three or four to spend effort to bring him down. He has parlayed that into a professional contract, but is willing to leave that life to go to college in the USA.
“I would like to combine rugby with a study program here in a America,” said Rodwell, who attended the USA 7s CRC just to get an idea of what the college game is like. “The structures in Italy don’t combine sports with studying. That’s what America is really good at. This event today is all college teams where players play rugby and study.”
Rodwell’s father was attending college in UC Davis (studying winemaking, which is what he does now) when Sebastian was born. Therefore he qualifies for the USA. He helped Cavallieri finish 2nd in the Italian league this year.
“It was all very exciting,” he said. “But you look around. There’s so many players who get injured. It’s easy for a player that’s made it. But I was told I should try it for two or three years, and then if it doesn’t work out, you try something else, and that’s not a good answer. I didn’t want to spend all my time just training and going home and sitting on the sofa and watching TV.”
Rodwell said his attributes center around attacking the line and playing tough defense. He is also a 7s player, having attended an Italian national camp.
“There could be a chance for me in 7s, too; I’ve got to learn a lot more about how 7s works, but the ball is the same,” he said.
Rodwell and his father came to the USA to meet with coaches, and he has met with a few already.
“It’s difficult because English is not my first language,” he said. “Speaking to a lot of people can be difficult. But I am excited, and I am excited about this 7s event, to see so many people here and that it’s one TV is great.”
Rodwell is now looking to cross how own Rubicon and make a go of it in the USA. He is a big, hard-running center with a solid international pedigree. But what has brought him to the USA is not the prospect of a supposedly easy cap, Rather, he is looking to this country to offer what it has always offered: opportunity. Rugby is important, sure, but secondary. He wants an education, and hopes rugby can provide it.