USA Rugby announced belated revisions to eligibility regulations for the 2007-08 season, but failed to identify the changes themselves.
In a two-page press release that details the philosophy and process followed by the eligibility and rugby committees as well as the board of directors, the union touted last summer's introduction of an online suggestion box. But the output of that well-received innovation arrived five months after the season started, and the changed rules themselves are nowhere summarized.
In short, there is nothing to make plain any reasons, however valid, for the extraordinary delay.
The omission compounds the fact that the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Midwest territories have long since finished the first half of their seasons. Thus playoff teams from regions representing more than half the country could this year find themselves competing under two setsof rules.
Officials have previously said that the old guidelines which governed the 2007 fall season would be 'grandfathered.' The matter is not addressed in the release.
One of the main questions had regarded the number of years allotted to high school and college players. In both cases, Boulder was considering extending eligibility, thus moving away from mainstream sports organizations like the NCAA. That seems to have been decisively rejected. According to the release:
Although there were several calls for significant expansion of minimum standards at the collegiate level, it is critical that USA Rugby maintain integrity of the collegiate competition in line with other competitive, collegiate sports. Participation in b-sides, tournaments, 'friendlies,' and other non-Championship related events is encouraged, if participation is permitted by the university, as a way of offering additional opportunities to play for part-time or community college students.
Regardless the substance of the changes (I will try to dig into them more later this week), the announcement could become exhibit A in the widespread belief that USA Rugby officials and staff are focused on internal processes, rather than 'customer service.' For the majority of dues-paying players and coaches, competing for local, regional, and national championships is the main thing -- it is not the Eagles -- and they consider Boulder's most valuable role to be administering championships and particularly adjudicating ever-shifting and always controversial eligibility. As such, Friday's release does not tell the stakeholders what they need to know.