Fledgling Rugby California is struggling to agree eligibility rules for its school-age championship, a question that's also nationally contentious.
Northern California advocates conventional high school guidelines, while Southern California prefers an under-19 framework, RC's president indicated last week in an email sent to members. Organizers are further wrestling with the question of whether its State Cup championship should insist on 'single school' teams or allow multi-school sides.
With some 4,000 registered youth and high school players, a figure that represents 13 percent of USARFU's 2009 total even as it undercounts the number of active youngsters, RC's decisions could well influence American and regional policymaking.
Boulder presently stages parallel national championships, a U19 competition and a mislabeled single-school tournament that permits up to 3 players from outside institutions. The national body has said it anticipates retaining the all-star championship as a pathway to its U20 international team, while the latter devolves to state bodies such as RC. But the approach is far from popular.
Meanwhile, RC's statewide charter is of interest to officials in the Northern California local union and Southern California territory, both part of the Pacific Coast until 1995. In the interim, the sport's expansion as well as streamlined communications technology (i.e., the Internet) has begun to surmount the vacuum that once existed between the Monterey-Fresno and San Luis Obispo-Bakersfield axes.
The 2010 State Cup, to be contested May 15 at San Francisco's Rocca Field, will split the difference by staging single-school boys and U19 girls title matches. The question, however, will likely predominate the organization's April 17-18 meeting in Santa Barbara. Underlining the gathering's importance, USARFU youth director Mark Griffin is scheduled to be on hand, RC announced.
The competing eligibility models essentially turn on the question of optimum growth prospects. U19 advocates believe in casting the widest possible net, asserting that communities which don't have a thick network of school teams minimize playing opportunities. Scholastic adherents not only say the school system provides superior resources but also claim that credible youth organizations must cater to adolescent teenagers and cannot accommodate school graduates.
USARFU itself has an economic interest. Half of RC's $40 yearly per player dues go to Boulder and half stay home, paying for some of RC's playoff event and participant expenses as well as administrative costs. RC manages player registration and shares its database with the national body.