Rugby News & Views From an American Perspective
Article courtesy of USA Rugby with additional notes from Ted Hardy, Editor, Rugby America
It has been a busy week in Boulder. On Tuesday USA Rugby announced their new collegiate management council and today the governing body set their aim at women’s collegiate rugby. The main impetus behind the naming of the committee is strengthening the push towards making women’s rugby an NCAA sport.
As men’s collegiate rugby is undergoing a massive overhaul, women’s rugby is in need of a similar boost. Named an emerging sport by the NCAA a few years back, women’s rugby hasn’t gained traction as quickly as some had hoped or predicted.
To focus efforts, USA Rugby has appointed a Women’s College Strategic Committee (WCSC) to create a plan for the growth of women’s collegiate rugby. The WCSC, drawn from women’s collegiate coaching ranks, has stated a vision intended to launch women’s collegiate rugby successfully into the NCAA, and to also provide a robust competition structure for those programs that prefer to retain club status.
There are currently five varsity women’s rugby programs in the Unites States, including West Chester University, Eastern Illinois University, Norwich University, Bowdoin College, and the most recent addition to the varsity ranks, Quinnipiac University. Varsity women’s rugby is currently on the NCAA Emerging Sports list and the newly-formed WCSC will work towards full NCAA status for women’s rugby.
Because of the NCAA opportunity, the WCSC believes women’s collegiate rugby should be positioned as the centerpiece of women’s rugby in the United States. The opportunity for athletic scholarships will draw youth and high school athletes into the sport of rugby, while the existence of a high level collegiate competition structure will produce elite rugby players capable of sustainable excellence on an international stage.
In addition to establishing rugby as a fixture in college athletic departments, the WCSC also endeavors to develop knowledgeable, high-performing coaches and officials devoted to continually raising the standard of play.
The WCSC will work with club teams, coaches, athletic directors and conference directors to achieve this dual reorganization.
Members of the committee are:
Chair: Sue Parker, Navy
Co-Chair: MaryBeth Mathews, Bowdoin
Annemarie Farrell, Ithaca
Kerri Heffernan, Brown
Jonathan Griffin, Stanford
Ellen Owens, California
The WCSC will report to the College Management Council with Parker serving as a non-voting member of the Council.