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31 December 2011


If I'm JC and I'm looking at the d1a's current and near future competitors, and I see Life, Arkansas St, Davenport, and Lindenwood, I would leave immediately as well if I was concerned about marketability.

Never thought I would say it, but Cal is in D2 :(

At least someone has a plan to grow rugby.

Elsewhere we had Life vs Central Washington for the national championship. Good plan!

KO, why doesn't JC go into the detail you do when trying to explain away Cal's decision? Your perspective makes more sense than JC's various explanations. From the Q&A and APB (Alex, Pat & Bruce) interview, I get the impression that the only National Championship Cal may be competing for in the future is Collegiate 7s. The other games will just concentrate on making money by playing "good rugby."

If Clark believed that the conference model was the best way forward for college rugby he should have said so a year ago and not even bother with getting involved with the D1 league.

If you are going to sign on for a competition like this then you sign on for the long haul.

Did he ever indicate to anyone that this was a short term endeavor as far as he was concerned? Did he offer a vision that would have moved this competition from a national based one to a conference driven model. Most likely not.

Clark cleary had an asterick next to Cal's name when this was launched. He can justify it however he sees fit but if you are going to lead rugby in this direction then you damn well better be prepared to give it an honest chance to work. The expression in for a penny, in for a pound certainly fits here.

Bash US Rugby if you want but the bottom line is that Clark obviously had one eye trained on a conference model from the day this was conceived. That smacks of dishonesty to me.

I believe the pull out does have several various explanations, which is what the school official and JC both said.

The "where's my payday" angle is overplayed. I heard clearly the ROI he was seeking was in more university support, fans and media as well as game receipts. He didn't come out and say it, but I don't think he sees a ROI in playing half the premier teams.

Interesting that Cal was the only team to not take the money from USAR because it was against the 32 equal partner agreement. The other "non-money conscience" semi-finalist did.

I also liked his comments that the Eagles should fund themselves with no dues money from the HS's and college's. Finally!

This is what Kurt linked to in his article. Clark quote from the NY Times, Dec. 10, 2010.

...He said that while the new national competition was a step in the right direction for rugby in the United States, playing in the established conferences, like the Big Ten, the Pacific-10 and the Southeastern Conference, would be the best path to becoming part of the N.C.A.A.

“If the goal is solely to be sanctioned as one of those N.C.A.A. sports, the premier league might be helpful in a way,” Clark said, “but it probably wouldn’t be the purest way there.”

drek, where is the "dishonesty'? If you want everyone to sign on for the "long haul" to everything which is tried you must be upset at lots of rugby teams and their coaches. RSL premier, lots of teams trying stuff on for size then moving on.

sign on for the long haul like the dozen college teams which participated in USAR college 7's qualifiers then decided not to go? leaving USAR the impossible job of selling Life College as the national champs.

Fair enough, but Cal has to agree to a double standard with their position in the game. No other team gets criticized for leaving because no other team is Cal. The coaches who promoted the premier league and then left aren't JC. He needs to take the heat.

How about all the teams that wanted to play in the USAR college 7's qualifiers but were not "invited". The beauty of 7s is that little dog can run with the big dog and even beat him on any given day.

This isn't the issue here. What I see Cal doing here is supporting the college model by keeping competition more regional as is the case in other university sports. There a lot of "smaller" colleges that love to have the opportunity to run against Cal. They may know full well that they are the lamb going to slaughter, but they do it for the sake of getting to run against a classy club like Cal.

That culture makes the game better in this country.

Mr. Clark,

Welcome to D2. You're a fool.

As I heard it, it is not a given that Cal will play in the DI-AA. I read that they will honor their existing 2012 schedule and might consider completing in the lesser division championship if there is a pathway to that from their existing schedule.

This previous poster is yet another club/rec clown who would not know what real rugby is if it hit him in the nose.

Cal seems to likely care less about a championship, DI-A, DI-AA or whatever they call it in Boulder.

If BYU dropped out of the CPD in the 11th hour, what would the comments on this blog look like?

Interesting that people are so convinced that the conference based format is so much better than the territory based format.

As far as I can tell, this is purely an attempt to piggyback on the format that exists for Football and Basketball, in the hope that NCAA will stoop to welcoming what has been repeatedly referred to as a "niche sport".

Let's just hope that if anything the format that is followed is closer to BB with a tournament, and not FB with an opinion based popularity contest.

JC is after cash in an environment where there is very little to none. He doesn't care about the rest of the people trying to make collegiate rugby successful.

I totally agree with some of the above comments that Cal is supporting the college model by keeping competition more regional....which I think is fair enough for everyone.

ATTN: Todd Bell

Let's call what is currently called D1-AA what it really represents = D2. Let's see JC hang a D2 National Champion banner. What a joke JC has become.

@ cash is king, thank goodness somebody is thinking about making some profits in rugby, other than USA 7's. Because USAR isn't and most clubs aren't. Just tax the players appears to be the plan.

@ cougar, 11th hour would be in March when the competition begins, not months before.

@ d2 champ and wtf, all those SEC, Big 12, Big 10, ACC, Ivy and Pac 12 schools might not take nicely to your d2 suggestion, but it is painfully clear Cal doesn't really care what USAR championships are called.

also...@ wtf, attn: Todd Bell who?

All this brand talk got me to thinking about which division has the best and worst brands.

The USAR D1aa fairs well in this evaluation. I used the RugbyMag ranking from Nov.

The D1aa division has the following class A brands; Dartmouth, Florida, San Diego St, Stanford, Wisconsin, South Carolina, Indiana, Minnesota, Maryland, Tennessee, Texas, Virgina Tech, Arkansas, Kansas.

Their class B brands are; Northeastern, Bowling Green, Miami of (OH), St Bonaventure, UCF.

Class C's are; Loyola Marymount, Stony Brook, Claremont Colleges, Sacramento St, Davenport.

Digging deeper, many of the teams pressing the rankings are class A brands. It is only Davenport as one of the best teams which is a problem from a brand standpoint.

The D1a doesn't quite fair as well. There are some excellent class A brands, but many of the better teams are class C.

D1a class A's; UCLA, Airforce, UA, ASU, BYU, Colorado, Utah, ND, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Army, Navy, Ohio St, Penn St.

Class B's; Colorado St, Wyoming, Rutgers

Class C's; Central Washington, UC Davis, St Mary's, Cal Poly-SLO, Arkansas St, Life, Kutztown and Delaware.

The D1aa could rank; Cal, Oregon St, Harvard, LSU, Florida St, Georgia, North Carolina, Virgina and many many more excellent brands.

Which teams are which class of brand could be argued in both divisions. St Mary's could be a B with the success of their basketball team and Mid-American conference Miami of Ohio a C. However, overall the brand marketability of the D1aa is every bit as good if not better than the D1a. Further, once beyond the top 8-10 D1a teams the rugby is of a similar standard.

From purely a marketing view, it is a major mistake cutting off these excellent brands from sponsorship considerations. A broadcaster like NBC could make money from a final four of Cal, Flordia, Texas, Tennessee. In effect this is what they are doing with their CRC.

Or it could be a USAR final four with CWU, Life, St Mary's and BYU. This is what USAR recently produced in their 7's national championship.

Cal has done USAR and college rugby a favor in their pull out from the 25 team D1a. USAR should scrap the D1a and D1aa divisions and just have one competition. College rugby needs every good brand it can get to sell the sport. As is, the SEC conference is more valuable than the USAR d1a national championship. This is dumb.

The Saffer Highveld Bowl: Kutztown vs Arkansas State.

@marketing 101

You forgot about the Trojans. USC is a huge brand name in college sports, and they have a rugby team. Oh yeah. they haven't won a game in the last 3 or 4 years.

So Cal, the best run rugby club in the US, needs to choose between a competition run by USAR or working with the Pac-12. The shortcomings of USAR have been well documented. Working with USAR could mean passing up other TV and sponsorship opportunities. Pac-12 annual TV revenue is estimated to be over $500 million with Pac-12 Network. Pac-12 has a long list of world-class sponsors. Pac-12 also has a strong Olympic tradition. If you had the choice, which organization would you rather work with?

Marketing 101, don't mean to quibble but if Northeastern, Wyoming, and St Bonaventure are Class "B" then certainly Delaware and Davis are Class B as well. Davis and Delaware have both D1 athletic programs (d-1AA in football) and have high academic standards.

@Marketing 101

Isn't Claremont Colleges a collection of 4 or 5 colleges? Some of them female only. They have to be in a new Class D. Of course they were good enough for the CPD only 1 year ago, but now the CPD is a joke because Cal dropped out. Collegiate rugby is laughable at this point. Not even on the radar for 99% of the country.

As mentioned, we could quibble about the classifications of some schools, but the general premise remains. 1) More good brands the better. 2) There are more good brands and less bad brands in D1aa, than in D1a-premier.

@ marketing 101 you and everyone else that's stuck on the big name thing is forgetting the crucial element...a quality product!!!! No one wants to watch unathletic frat boys and high school football rejects running around regardless of the school they are playing for. Bash them all you want but the life, ark states, cwu etc...have stud athletes on par with those of Byu and Cal...these brand names you refer to so much are lucky to have one or two, apart form Utah and a couple others.

Quality Product,
is it easier to correct your "on field product" or turn central washington and kuntztown into marketable brands, I agree some of the big name unis will need to improve their rugby or as you say quality of the product but rarely are these all or none options and certainly it is easier to repair the former than build the latter. I would agree the three unis you mention have some good athletes on par with Cal but Cal has more of them and they are better prepared and better coached.

@ wdcb
Cal is a machine and does a great job of finding interchangeable parts to keep that machine going. Billups and Clark are best coaching duo in US without a doubt so you are very correct in your statement.

The one thing I don't understand is why there is not room to grow college rugby in both ways, big names and lesser known schools as well?? This happens in nearly every college sport, football with TCU and Boise St, basketball with dozens of schools and even entire conferences, soccer with Santa Clara, lacrosse with johns Hopkins all play along side the "brand name" unis and add strength to their respective sports. Why are we not realizing and embracing this in rugby like other sports have? This really confuses me

Why jam a square peg in a round hole? Collegiate lacrosse and hockey are about the best vs. best, not trying to start a hockey culture at USC or Kentucky because their football or basketball teams are big brands names. There is no leadership, which I think some of the volunteer coaches were hoping to get from a full time coach (i.e. Jack Clark), but he let them all down because he is only about the money.

Collegiate hockey and collegiate lacrosse have a huge advantage that rugby does not-varsity status in high schools. Rugby needs to legitimize itself in many ways, the collegiate game being a huge one, before we can hope to grow the game by having a national championship of Life vs Lindenwood. There are two ways to legitimize at the college level- get the administration to go straight varsity, like a few schools like Davenport and Wheelimg Jesuit have been able to do, or create competitions like the PAC12 and SCRC that average fans can understand and sponsors can get behind. Both are viable ways to move the game forward. But whereas fewer than a dozen schools can easily go the straight varsity route, at least a hundred can go the conference route. And it doesn't have to be a mirror image of the well known BCS conferences. The Northwest Collegiate conference is doing just fine without mirroring a traditional conference. And both approaches can work simultaneously. The CPD is a perfect competition for Kutztown, Life, BYU, Ark St, Lindenwood, Davenport, etc. The problem is, as pointed out in a prior comment, is that there doesn't appear the be administrators at these programs who want to put skin in the game and do the work necessary to grow the competition. Who do you think got the NCRC 7s tourney on tv? Who got the deals with adidas for the ACRL and SCRC? The volunteer coaches and administrators who are working hard to grow their conferences and teams. Why aren't CPD coaches and admins doing the same?

@ college coach

So what exactly did the teams get from this Adidas deal?

And you mean to tell me that guys like Dan Payne, Matt Huckaby, and Doc Jones aren't working hard to grow their teams and the game?

@ quality product

You ask a complicated question about Payne, Huckaby and Jones.

In the definition of growing college rugby Clark offered on the RM podcast, yes, they are strong rugby builders. However, I disagree with his view on this.

Is Matt Huckaby growing US college rugby by fielding a team of South Africans? If so, who's rugby is he growing other than Ark St's?

It was a nice story that Clark and Pat Clifton shared about the Life college billboard, selling that a bunch of ACC and SEC real colleges were visiting the chiropractic school. I suppose in the view of some this is growing college rugby, but I think not. It is more like getting over on college rugby.

Doc Jones grows his college rugby not ours. Maybe this is OK, maybe not, but lets not make a guy who as never done anything for the greater good of college rugby more than he is.

There is nothing altruistic about any of these premier coaches over any other coach. Actually, in the examples in question maybe less. D1aa coaches like Alex M. at Dartmouth, Matt S. at Stanford and Marty B. at Tennessee are also growing the game. They just happen to be the key leaders in Ivy, SEC and Pac-12. Over time theirs might just be a more valuable contribution.

The hypocrisy in this discussion, if you can call it that, is laughable.

So "quality product" you ask, what did we get from the Adidas deal? Answer: more than all the teams in the premier comp got from USAR for their involvement with the the premier competition. Is MORE understandable to you?

Maybe others know the identities of those that comment here and at Rugby Magazine better, but it seems there are a lot of comments from BYU supporters. At least they sign off with BYU handles. Most of these comments are negative towards Cal. Are these comments directed by the BYU coach David Smyth? Rugby Magazine has a comment up from a BYU supporter who pretends to have the inside scoop on Cal and BYU scheduling. How would he claim to know anything if not from the coaching staff? The BYU supporter claims that Cal has been ducking BYU! If the records at USAR are correct these teams have played annually since '05, Cal has defeated BYU 6 out of the last 7 times they have played. The last time in SLC, which kind of shoots a hole in the BYU supporters theory.

BYU comes off as the class club after Cal aborted their participation in the CPD. JC comes off as a coward. BYU will win the collegiate D-1A and Cal will win D2. BYU is the better team.

bring it.

i am not sure if you are being facetious on doc, payne, and huckaby or not.

doc has coached all star rugby since the 80's at LAU (east penn) and territorial (ERU, MARFU) level. he has worked with and helped develop many players over the years, any criticism of him in a manner of growing the game is unfair.

payne helped bring SDSU back into prominence, started Life from scratch and helped both become successful viable programs. he also coached the eagles. he has been coaching for about 5 years and has done more to grow the game than most people who've had 20+ years.

huckaby also has been coaching for around 5 years and his father stuck with a program, they gave us huckaby and jarvis albury off the top of my head. they have a strong competitive team. huckaby brought south all star rugby out of the doldrums. they brought south collegiate rugby from red headed step child to respected. most top programs have foreigners in key positions, this is not illegal. also, people are not good players based on geographic region of birth, they are good players due to hard work and dedication as well as genetics and coaching. huckaby too has done more in 5 or so years for game development than most.

criticism of those 3 guys is pretty unfair in my book, especially when there is a lot of low hanging fruit in the area of people who keep fiefdoms to hold the game back

@ bring it

Thanks for the reply, could you please explain in a little more detail what exactly the Adidas deal brought for the schools involved as this was never really made clear in any of the articles. Thanks


Lets retrace this thread. A posters who refers to himself as "quality product" throws out the names of three coaches, suggesting that they are really growing the game. I comment that they are really growing their rugby and nobody else's. Sighting it is their South Africa's and scholarship players, not ours.

Also mentioned were three other non-premier coaches who are moving the whole game forward.

You reply with the fact Payne, Jones and Huckaby are good people and they coach rep rugby. So what, lots of coaches coach rep rugby.

The point made was there is nothing altruistic about them, you, Tolkin, Clark, no one. Just like their isn't with coaches like Urban Meyer, Rick Pitino or Eddie O'Sullivan. Coaches work for their team. They compete against other coaches and other teams. Huckaby stuffs his team with South African's in order the beat teams, not to grow their rugby. He is then pissed off he isn't allowed entry into the SEC. Because get this, Ark St isn't a SEC school. No one is saying he isn't a good person, but lets stop short of building a statue just yet.

Payne left the team at SD St for a better paying job at Life, good for Life. Same with Doc Jones and every other coach we can blog about.

QP- Kit, lots of it.



bring it

let's agree to disagree, i see your point. we would just be discussing semantics

@ bring it

Thanks for you reply about the Adidas deal that's fantastic for those schools involved as kit can be a huge expense for teams.

Could you please expand upon your statement that Sherman, Magelby, and Bradley are moving the whole game forward whereas the other three are merely moving only their own programs forward.

Thanks in advance as I have appreciated your opinions so far.

Subsuquent comments by others not withstanding, nowhere in my original comment did I say that Payne, Huckaby, or Doc Jones are not growing rugby. In fact, the exact opposite is true. They have all identified ways to create high performance environments at their institutions and attract and/or develop some of the best young rugby talent we have in this country. My initial point was that with a fringe sport like rugby, mainstream acceptance and support will be difficult to achieve at the college level by having these institutions as our showcase products. This is a different scenario than college lacrosse where Johns Hopkins or college hockey where Bemidji St are powerhouses, because these sports have already entered the mainstream through varsity proliferation at the high school and college level. It also helps that Johns Hopkins is an elite academic institution (lacrosse equivalent of Middlebury or Dartmouth rugby perhaps?). Anyways, these coaches found a way to get support from their institutions and grow their programs. The results have been impressive and they should be commended in all ways. But their models cannot be replicated at the majority of colleges and universities. Stanford doesn't need to use their rugby program to promote an international studies department. University of Tennessee doesn't need to attract applicants by offering in state tuition to out of state rugby players. University of North Carolina doesn't need to try expand their student demographic by having a full varsity rugby program offering scholarships. So these schools and the coaches at these schools look at what they have that they can leverage to promote the sport on their campuses, and that is their brands and their well-recognized conference rivalries. So that's what they are doing. Some are more successful than others, and the use of this model on a widespread scalemis in it's infancy. We'll see how it works out. Maybe it won't. But the volunteer coaches and administrators of these rugby programs and fledgling rugby conferences are out knocking on doors looking for sponsors, commercial and broadcast opportunities, developing referee development programs, running 7s tournaments in profesional soccer stadiums, etc. They aren't waiting for someone else to do it for them. My point about the CPD coaches and administrators (none of whom I called out by name, mind you, the responder to my comment threw out a few names) is that to my knowledge they aren't getting stuck in and trying to grow their competition and conferences like these 'lesser' D1-AA conferences are. Why doesn't CPDs Rugby East have it's own website like D2 Rugby Northeast? Why doesn't the Mid-South CPD conference (who, by the way has possibly the most marketable collegiate brand in the country in Notre Dame) have a kit sponsor? Why doesn't the CPD West have a hotel sponsor like the ACRL that helps offset travel costs? These are teams with in some cases multiple paid coaches, great school support, etc. Nobody can put together a website? Again, back to my original point, the models used to grow rugby at Arkansas St and University of Florida are not mutually exclusive. They just represent the different circumstances at different institutions. Nor are the CPD conferences and competition that much different than the lower level conference system. In fact, they are pretty similar. The difference is that USAR runs one and the colleges involved run the other. And at the end of the day, that difference may be what vaults one over the other. And so perhaps that answers QPs question-some coaches and admins are growing the game more than others because they are helping to move college rugby further and further away from USAR. In the meantime, as Bruce says, we could be talking semantics forever.

Get some Bruce!

Years ago, in my initial years coaching college rugby, I thought foreign players would really help my teams win fast. An Argentine Pumita (U20s player) at halfback/fullback and an English scrumhalf played really well individually, but had difficulty playing as a team members. The players that contributed the most as team members were the military kids and the Jesuit-educated kids. They weren't the best players, but they attended practices consistently and played with equal effort regardless of 1st, 2nd, or 3rd side. Looking back, I think it is more important that we as coaches not only do that which is best for our individual players and our team, but we should also develop players that will go on to make rugby in the US better overall, whether at the club or the national team level.
Recently, I've learned that one of the issues that motivates HS & college ruggers AWAY from college or club rugby (respectively) is the presence of the "accents" on teams and the (sometimes true) thought that they may not get to play because a coach might start a foreigner ahead of them. Foreigners in college and club rugby are here to stay and I have nothing against that. Coaches need to recognize the need to nurture and develop the American talent that is a step or less behind. Our game needs the depth.

@ CC

Thanks for the response you certainly make some very valid points. It is definitely interesting to watch the various programs each try and grow themselves in their own unique way. Thanks for your insights you have clearly thought about this a lot which is great. I wish you and your team much success I'm the future, on and off the field.

The Big 10 sports network is making a fortune. I am sure that the PAC-12 sports network will as well. The money that a conference sports cable channel can generate is the real reason that so many big-time schools have changed conferences. College rugby teams should definitely try to be a part of that. These channels have a lot of airtime to fill.

Who says the money will filter down to what for most universities is a club sport. They may simply be given free air time to fill the dead air.

Based on this logic I suspect that ultimate frisbee teams will want their air-time (and money) too ...

and the next real opportunity is...what?

Take a chance ... shouldn't the chance have been taken by sticking with the D1 concept and seeing how far that goes? Perhaps working the conference concept into this over time?

Cal's group in the CPD/D-1A was already more or less a regional conference (UC Davis, St. Mary's, UCLA, Cal Poly SLO, Central Washington). This reeks of a power play on JC's part, especially in light of the recent funding crisis at Cal.

Is a BCS-style system that separates the haves from the have-nots really in the best interest of the game?


Your question begs the question who are the "haves" and who are the "have nots?"

@ Drek

Yes you are correct one of the options is to continue sticking with the D1 concept.

The other being a conference approach which matches rivals and has a built in media and fan awareness, along with more and better brands.

Did you see the highlights which were posted of SMC playing at Arkansas State in the QF's? Shocking setting with no fans. How about Life v Cal? Same no fans in the view finder. Army v Utah, no fans. Now Cal vs BYU in Utah had fans, but if Arkansas State beats BYU in the fan-less setting of Glendale, the HS championship would have outdrawn the college final.

The second example would be the USAR college 7's national championship played on a blue-green astro turf field with with every line marking possible except rugby's. The chiropractic school beating a D2 state college of Washington for the crown.

This can't be the future. There has to be something better. I am not sure what it is, but conferences could be the answer.

I think the conference in play is a Pac-12 conference. Not a regional collection of schools ala the old LAU model. This is why Stanford hosted the Pac 7's and why UCLA hosted the Pac XV's. Some of these teams would fall into the "have not" category but this would be really good for their campus status.

I got and idea for you....get better. For all those looking for the big names like Florida, Ohio State, Michigan, Texas, get better. DOn't knock Central Washington, Life, Kutztown, and St Mary's for working hard, recruiting hard, and building their alumni base, get better. Feeling like you're entitled for great things because your football/basketball programs have worked hard? Upset about the success other programs are having? Stop looking for excuses, get better. If you don't want a C Washington vs Life final, get better and beat them, or how about turning up for starters?

I don't think people are bashing the quality of these programs or the work they've done. In fact, I've seen quite the opposite and these programs are being lauded for the ways they've found to grow their rugby. But if you want these other big name programs to "get better" then don't try to stand in their way when they try to leverage their brand names to help them improve their rugby programs. Don't go crying when the SCRC, formed by the men's rugby teams from the SEC in an attempt to "get better," don't accept the membership application of Arkansas St., a non-SEC school. Don't go crying when Wisconsin, in an attempt to show their fans, administration, and alumni that rugby is legit and is deserving of more support in order to "get better," accepts an invite to the CRC, while Kutztown stays at home. And as for schools like Life and Kutztown, they should be hoping that the big name schools get better at rugby so that the entirety of the sport is elevated and then when a fringe trade school from Marietta with a funny cult-like name wins a national championship, it will be in a sport that the average American considers to be a legitimate college sport.

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