Rugby America

Rugby News & Views From an American Perspective

Pacific Coast Standoff Threatens Girls Championship

by Ted Hardy, Editor, Rugby America

Photo Credit: Chrisey Buoy

A late change to the U19 Girls Regional Tournament in the Pacific Coast Rugby Football Union threatens to derail any notion of a proper seeding process and in the process could alienate an entire state.

In August of 2010 the PCRFU Executive Committee decided to host the 2011 PCRFU Girls Regional Tournament in Washington. The tournament, set to be a four team event bringing together the top girls teams from Northern California, Utah, and Washington was to be contested in order to determine the two teams that will advance to the 2011 Girls National Championship.

Last week, team officials were notified, by PCRFU President Frank Merrill via email, that the tournament was going to be cancelled and that the #1 seed from the PCRFU (also the #1 seed at Nationals) was going to be a one-off game between the top Northern California team and the top team from Utah. The NorCal #2 team would then face off against Washington #1 to determine the second seed out of the PCRFU (National #5).

Without consulting all of the teams involved, Merrill cited that the tournament would be downsized in order to accommodate the teams.

The short notice and revamped scenario eliminates any opportunity for NorCal #2 or Washington #1 to win the Pacific Coast and claim the #1 seed in the National Championship.

The impetus behind the late change appears to be the Sacramento Amazon’s reluctance to travel to Washington to play in the tournament. In a similar situation to the Amazons’ stand this season, two years ago a boys teams from Washington refused to travel to play in the PCRFU Regional. In that situation, no compromises were made which raises questions as to why a compromise is being made in this situation.

While the Amazons are the reigning Girls National Champion, the tournament had been awarded well in advance to Rugby Washington and plenty of time was given to all participating teams to prepare for the tournament in Seattle.

The real concern is that teams in the PCRFU were not consulted prior to the change, thus marking the whole situation with questions of favoritism.

The PCRFU Girls Regional tournament was started three years ago with the first tournament being played in Washington and then in Redding, CA in 2009 and then Medford, OR in 2010. With Washington based teams logging the most mileage in the past two years, the tournament was awarded to Rugby Washington for 2011.

That is, until last week when the rug was pulled out from underneath them without warning and little reasoning. Certainly not enough reasoning to merit pulling the plug on a tournament less than a month from when it was supposed to take place and awarding a peculiar decision that blocks two of the teams from playing for the top seed.

As a result of the change, a formal complaint has been filed with USA by Kent (WA) Crusaders Head Coach Rex Norris against the PCRFU. The complaints with the PCRFU include the recent tournament decision as well as grievances dating back to the 2010 PCRFU Regional that was held in Oregon.

“If our program has to go and play someone we usually just ask where and when, I think the history of the Kent Rugby Program shows that,” said Norris in an email. 

“However this situation goes way beyond that. As a result I am standing up on this issue and making an appeal to the National level of USA Rugby. I am hoping that I can present it to someone that will see it for what it is and have an opinion on it instead of status quo.”

In hopes of finding a way to properly decide the championship, Rugby Washington has come forward with solutions to the ordeal including opting to move the tournament to Portland from Seattle to lessen some of the travel burden on the teams involved.

“This situation is not right for the sport of rugby and even less for girls athletics in general. This would not be happening at the boys level because coaches and decision makers would not have allowed that to happen. If these events were happening at a boys level there would be tremendous opposition and media coverage,” added Norris.

“This is about validating girls rugby as an event that means something for them as athletes. Last year was embarrassing after telling the team how special this was going to be.”

Other states have already begun to pull out of the high school/U19 National Championship picture and opting for state-based championships. If a resolution to this impass cannot be found, could Rugby Washington be next?


10 comments on “Pacific Coast Standoff Threatens Girls Championship

  1. Not a surprise
    April 8, 2011

    Par for the course with Merrill.

  2. Matt Hudson
    April 8, 2011

    It’s pretty hilarious when LAU and TU’s complain that everyone is abandoning them when it’s precisely for this reason. Both boys and girls teams from Washington have had to do this for years in order to qualify for nationals. This just smells like favoritism.

  3. Uh
    April 17, 2011

    What about the #3 Norcal team? According to the northern california youth rugby playoff site, #1 gets an auto-bid, #2 plays washington’s #1 team, and #3 plays utah #1

    what’s the deal yo!

    • Alameda Rugby
      April 28, 2011

      Alameda Rugby (Riptides) is trying to put it together to go to Seattle we were just told 2 days ago… fingers crossed

      • Uh
        April 30, 2011

        Hi Ashley

  4. Amazon Supporter
    May 2, 2011

    How many years has the PCRFU held U19 Boys Regional Playoffs in Utah? Almost every year this decade because of the fact that the PCRFU Champs are from Utah. The Amazons have been PCRFU Champs since the inception of the PCRFU tournament, yet they have had to travel every year. They deserve to stay home. Kent should win a game against the Amazons before they talk about hosting.

  5. Uh
    May 2, 2011

    Well this is all pretty much moot now. Motherlode has to travel to Seattle, Amazons get to host Utah at home and hopefully will win.

  6. Anonymous
    May 4, 2011

    I play on the Utah team and even I see how all this is a little unfair. But we were under the impression we would play against mother lode, not amazons, so everyone is dealing with mix ups, we all just need to grin and bear it, play our games and then work to fix the problems later- good luck to everyone!

    • Anonymous
      May 8, 2011

      My daughter plays on MotherLode. We have several seniors that were going to Prom which is a HUGE deal, think of all the money involved: tickets $150-$175., dresses $100-$400, tux $100-$150, and thats just for the basic. Their ‘dates’, how could they find another date at last minute? The arrangement to have Utah come to CA to play Motherlode was made after Amazons stated they were not going to travel, that they were going to build this year. They made this statment via phone conference with many people present. Utah agreeing to come here so that our girls could go to their Prom solved so many problems and we were all so very thankful to them. Amazon’s changing their mind last minute due to winning us, was simply WRONG. We were told we could play Kent Sunday, thousands of $$ spent getting last minute tickets, arrangements etc…only to be informed a few days before Prom that they won’t play us on Sunday. You cannot imagine the emotions that have taken place, and this ‘mind changing’ of the Amazon’s did not only affect us. I wish Utah would have ‘changed their minds’ and decided to play in Kent. Things may be different. Our girls are good, they are very respectulful, they deserve a shot at Nationals. This is my first year involved with this sport, I had been very impressed with the association up until now. The individuals involved here locally whom make it all possible are some of the most amazing people I know, and I am sure that if you ask any of the teams we’ve played, they will agree. They go over and above for everyone…they too deserve to have this team go to Nationals. On another note, the girls who had to make heart wrenching decision: 2nd family/TEAM or Prom, chose Prom and had a fantastic time. Rant over. lol

      • Anonymous
        May 8, 2011

        Sorry Motherlode parent. You have your facts wrong. The Amazons never said they were not going to Nationals. Utah, did not have a choice in who their opponent was. The format of the PCRFU playoffs was that NorCal#1 would play Utah#1 in Northern California. WA#1 would play NorCal#2 in Washington. The winner of both games would advance to Nationals. Motherlode assumed that they would be the NorCal Champs and scheduled the PCRFU playoff game against Utah before the NorCal playoffs even began. Last weekend was the NorCal Championships and the Amazons won their 4th straight NorCal title. Motherlode, the #2 NorCal team, now had to play the WA#1 team in WA for a shot at Nationals. It is sad that Motherlode will not have a chance to play at Nationals. They played great rugby this year. But, to blame the Amazons for the bad timing, is wrong. Its irresponsible and arrogant for Motherlode to not consider the possibility that they would not be league champions. It looks like rather than take responsibility, blame is being put on others.

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This entry was posted on April 8, 2011 by in High School/U19 Rugby, Rugby News.

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