USA Rugby has made a decision with regard to the quickly imploding West DI men’s club league.
With the Denver Highlanders already out due to low numbers, and the Denver Barbarians and Glendale Raptors now committed to a new elite-level league in the spring (whether that’s a USA Rugby league or a privately-run league is to be confirmed), only three clubs remains – Boulder, Provo, and Utah Islanders.
The National Competitions Committee met this week to decide the fate of the remaining teams, and opted to keep the three in their own league, with each team playing the other twice.
The winner of this smaller league will then play a challenge match with the Northern California #2 team to determine which will go on to the national quarterfinals.
The ruling is very specific, saying that the NorCal #2 team will have to travel for the challenge match, and cannot be replaced with a low NorCal team (#3, #4, etc.). In addition, that challenge match should occur on April 26 or May 3, and if the NorCal team cannot or will not travel, the West #1 enters the national quarterfinals on May 17.
The Committee made this decision in part because it wasn’t the fault of the three remaining teams that the Barbarians, Highlanders, or Glendale dropped out, and they wanted to give those remaining teams some sort of path to the playoffs.
In addition, the NorCal #2 team would not be in the playoffs otherwise.
Northern California clubs, as far as RUGBYMag.com has been able to gather, have not been officially apprised of this plan, but it seems that they will not be thrilled with the idea of being forced to travel for this game, especially since it is highly likely that the NorCal #2 and West #1 won’t be known until quite late.
No decision has been made to the future of a West-Northern DI league, but it seems something has to be done to cover this large area that is not densely-populated, but still retains clubs enthusiastic about playing DI rugby.