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.”
Minnesota finally beat Wisconsin last season to emerge from Midwest West play and reach the Sweet 16. Problem is, once they got there they ran into the buzzsaw known as Davenport and lost 27-0.
The Gophers have lost four starters since the spring semester, and the biggest blow came in the front row. Starting tighthead Garrett O’Connor graduated and his heir to the No. 3 jersey transferred to Nebraska. Luckily, However, high school All American prop Peyton Lauber will be in Minneapolis.
“I think that’s the hardest thing to find in college is a good front row,” said Minnesota coach Loren Lemke. “You can find the rest of them or create them, but I don’t think you can create props. They’re born.”
Another newcomer who could make an impact early is Jack Butterfield.
“He is either going to be a flyhalf or scrumhalf,” said Lemke. “He played on our 7s side and had a great summer, so we’re just looking forward to putting stuff together and see if we can get a run here.”
Paramount to any run the Gophers make will be scrumhalf Nate Augspurger. He has darting speed and big-play ability. His elder brother Sam has graduated, but one Augspurger is better than none.
If the Gophers can avoid injuries up front, Lemke thinks they have a chance to return to the postseason.
"My own personal feeling is, from just watching practice, is they’re not really fearful of anybody," he said.
"College rugby you don’t know from week to week. That’s what scares me. I know we’re going to be fairly solid in our top 20, but if we lose a couple pack players we’re going to be hurting because we’re going to be counting on a couple inexperienced players to step up."
Written by Press Release
Wednesday, 31 August 2011 13:17
Glendale, CO – The Glendale Raptors rugby organization announces the Raptor Rugby Academy, a program designed for boys in grades 8 through 12 who desire to become elite rugby players. The Academy is designed to be an elite rugby program that serves as the entrance point for Colorado High School boys to enter the US elite player pathway. The program will focus on strength and conditioning, nutrition, technical education, tactics, skills, and team play. Experienced coaches will provide professional advice and guidance to encourage players to achieve their potential both on and off the field.
The Raptor Rugby Academy will be held at Infinity Park on the second and fourth Sundays of the month from September through November, 2:00 pm to 4:30 pm, and will conclude with an all-day camp on December 3 and 4. Practices will consist of film work, on-field and classroom sessions.
The Academy will utilize Infinity Park’s regulation-size pitch and High Altitude Training Center (HATC), a first-of-its-kind facility in North America opened by the City of Glendale in March 2011. The HATC’s strength and conditioning equipment accommodates specialized training for sports teams and high performing athletes.
Academy players will enter competitive play as Eastern Rockies Rugby Football Union’s (ERRFU) representatives in Spring 2012, fielding a developmental team as well as an elite team. The Elite side of the Academy will be competing for the national championship as the ERRFU representative in the Western regional playoffs. The Elite side is also planning a tour to Canada in the spring. Spring practice begins in January.
The Raptor Rugby Academy will be led by members of the Raptor coaching staff and Raptor players, including:
Mark Bullock, Director of Rugby for the Glendale Raptors & Raptor Head Coach A former high school teacher, administrator and coach, Bullock has been involved in rugby for 30 years. He was the original coach of the US U19 squad from 1991 to 2001, a national coaching instructor and past representative coach for Western Rugby Union (WRU), the ERRFU and the Pacific Northwest Rugby Football Union (PNRFU). Bullock led the Glendale Raptors Division one team to a National Championship in 2011.
Andre Snyman, Glendale Raptors Sevens Coach South African rugby star Andre Snyman coaches the new Raptors Sevens team. For ten years, Snyman played for the South African Springboks and he represented South Africa at the International Rugby Board’s Sevens Rugby World Cup in Hong Kong in 1997. Snyman also played in England and France, where he participated in coaching clinics. Since retiring as a player in 2007, he stayed active in the rugby community in South Africa, coaching youth rugby in townships, schools and clubs, including the Varsity College Old Boys in his hometown of Durban. Snyman has been named to lead the West Men’s 7s All-Stars, who will compete in the National All-Star 7s Championships in Chula Vista, CA on August 27 and 28.
Jared Heath, Glendale Raptors Jared played both football and rugby at Highlands Ranch High School, winning one state rugby title. He went on to play college football at Colorado School of Mines and returned to rugby after graduation. He has been a Raptor head coach for three years and was selected to coach one of the All State teams as well as the select-side team in 2010. Casey Rock, Glendale Raptor Casey Rock is a converted soccer player currently playing lock for the Glendale Raptors. He played in New Zealand and for the West All Stars, and he was selected as a Collegiate All-American. Rock was a member of the National Championship team in 2011.
Josh Schmitz, Glendale Raptor Schmitz started playing rugby as an eighth grader and was selected every year to play in the high school all state game. He played for the national champion Eastern Rockies Football Union team for five years, starting at scrumhalf. He played 7s in Samoa before joining University of Wyoming’s rugby team and the West All Stars. Schmitz has been a Raptor for five years. He was selected to coach an all state team and a select-side team in 2010. He was member of the National Championship team in 2011. Dewon Reed, Glendale Raptor Glendale Raptor Dewon Reed was named a 7s and 15s finals MVP and he was a member of the National Championship team in 2011.
Raptor Rugby Academy coaches will measure the success of the Academy by the number of U17s and U19s selected to attend next level camps, the number of U17s and U19s selected to play for the US, and the success of Academy teams in spring tournaments. This past season, two Raptor Rugby Academy players were selected to go to the USA selection camp in the spring. One player, Josh Brake, was selected to play for the US; he was the starting center for the US 7s in Canada.
“The Raptor Rugby Academy will expose young Colorado athletes to high performance standards and prepare them to become future Eagles and Olympians,” said Luke Gross, USA Rugby Specialty Coach and U20 All-American Forwards Coach. “It’s important for young athletes to realize that rugby is a legitimate, high-level sport that can lead to representing your country in the Olympics or Rugby World Cup.”
“This program will provide a high performance rugby environment due to Glendale’s world-class facilities, coaching and emphasis on player development,” said David Williams, USA Eagles Strength and Conditioning Specialist.
Eastern Rockies Rugby Football Union kicked off its inaugural Division III league competition last weekend with a fixture between Casper (WY) Cannibals RFC and Colorado Rush RFC. Cannibals wound up on the front end of a lopsider, but the news was all about ERRFU’s new league, comprised of six regional clubs: Anarchists (Colorado Springs), Casper Cannibals, Colorado Rush (Denver), Grand Junction (CO), Tigers (Broomfield, CO), and Wolverines (Denver) RFCs.
There had always been talk of forming a Division III league in ERRFU, but it took the perseverance and dedication of one individual, former Denver Harlequins head coach Scott Pointdexter, to bring that dream to fruition. “I worked closely with Rich Cortez, president of the (local) union. My initial thought was that the league would be made up of Div II clubs’ second sides, but evidently there was a call for rugby in some of our outlying areas also,” reports the redoubtable “Pointy”.
Though most (4 from 6) of the D III league’s clubs are located along the 100-mile long Colorado Springs-Denver-Fort Collins urban-‘burban corridor, Grand Junction (CO) and Casper (WY) are well-removed from that mainstream. Grand Junction is 230 miles west of Denver and Casper is nearly 300 miles to the northwest of Colorado’s capitol and rugby central, raising formidable logistic issues.
“We’ve away matches 4 of the next 6 weekends,” says Casper Cannibals stalwart and founder, Chris Wohletz. He has been working at forming a club for nearly 20 years in his town. “We’re on the road a bunch, but we manage by carpooling and overnighting with friends and relatives in the places we play in. We’ve 25 players CIPP-ed now and that includes my Dad, Jon Ledbetter, who also referees. Our plan is to start a U-19 team in the spring that can travel with us.”
Grand Junction finds themselves in similar straits as their nearest league competition is over two hundred miles away, though on occasion they’re able to set fixtures closer to home with mountain clubs in Colorado ski towns.
Jeremy Ballard, general manager of Colorado Rush RFC, says Denver Harlequins were instrumental in the Rush’s formation, “We played a couple of games as the Wildfire last year at Harlequins games, but have come together in D III as the Rush,” he states of the side which currently has the most players CIPP-ed at 28, and he echoes the most prevalent growing pain of start-ups the world over: “Consistent training attendance by individual players - that’s what we’re looking to instill in our club members. That’s what’ll make the difference when all is said and done.”
Shawn Kelley, who along with fellow player Chad Eberle formed Wolverines RFC, a Denver-based club reports, “We’re struggling right now for numbers, but we always manage to field a side for our matches. We’re making the run up to Casper for a match with the Cannibals over Labor Day weekend, and everybody’s really stoked for that team-building fixture.”
Broomfield Tigers RFC coach Michael O’Brian credits dad, Paul O’Brian (coach of the BT high school team), for his rugby inspiration: “We’ve got 20-25 players consistently training so we’re here to stay.” Adds the elder O’Brian, “We’ve been around a little over three years. We had been playing 7-a-side as high school alumni in the summer league for the past few years, and had our first 15s match in the spring of 2011.” Paul notes Dylan Lewis as the administrative genius behind Broomfield’s success, “Without Dylan’s consummate organizational efforts, we’d still be in the planning stages.” Looking to the future, P-O-B is positive: “Our inside and outside centers on the men’s team teach at different high schools in our catchment area, and we’re expecting an influx of U-19s from their workplaces as well next spring.”
Anarchists RFC: True to their name, this lawless bunch appears on the union website, but has no contact information, nor apparently can they be found in USARFU’s database, yet they are rumored to play (somewheres) and train somewheres else, on some days, at some times, in the Colorado Springs (CO) area, but that could not be confirmed.
At the end of the day, over one hundred more rugby players will be taking the pitch on weekends in ERRFU’s domain thanks to the grassroots efforts of the union and the D III clubs.
St. Mary's (RUGBYMag #1) takes on #3 BYU in a rematch of the game St. Mary's won Feb 15.Kickoff is at Noon Pacific Time, 1pm Mountain Time, 2pm Central, 3pm Eastern.Full live webstream here. Read more...
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