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06 May 2013


How old are the South African and New Zealander "freshman" BYU scrumhalf and standoff? 21 years of age as freshman? Either way those two players were the difference. Cal's Boyer, USA U-20, local kid from Jesuit HS was no match for Mocke. The Kiwi standoff Linehan scores 22 of 27 BYU points scored! Insane.

I'm actually hope that Mocke is considerably older than the average college freshman since he proposed to his girlfriend on the field after the game.


While I'm not ready to call the Varsity Cup a complete failure, it's not a good look after 1 year.

-A crowd of 3,000 for the Championship game, when in past years that same matchup got around 10k. Life vs St Mary's is expected to get around the same crowd as the VC Championship despite it being played at a neutral site and neither team having the brand equity of Cal and BYU.

-Championship match shown on Youtube instead of ESPNU/ESPN3.

-Terrible mismatches the entire way through until the final

-A VC team getting suspended by the school and having to be replaced only a couple weeks before the tournament started

Now, I'm sure some lessons will be learned from this year and some things will be improved upon but it's not off to a good start and all the talk of the VC being the 15s answer to the CRC looks pretty bad at this point. The biggest problem is the lack of competitive matches, though. The best way to remedy that would be to invite SMC, Life, Arkansas State and probably Lindenwood and Davenport. They may not be the brands that UCLA and Notre Dame are, but they provide higher quality matches that people would actually be interested in watching.

Either that, or just ditch the Varsity Cup as long as USAR gets rid of their ridiculous eligibility regulations that screw over BYU and just have a Cal-BYU home and away series every year and play the playoffs like they used to.

Also, I have to take issue with Kurt's statement of the VC final being the consensus national championship. It's about as far from consensus as one can get.

I'd guess they made more money holding it at BYU than a place like Rio. Much less cost involved. 3k is about the capacity of that venue so you can't blame them for not getting more.

If the Life/SMC game gets 3k Id be shocked. Where are these fans coming from? Does Life have that big a crowd coming? Where would anyone else be coming from? It's going to be a great match though.

College Rugby Mess is absolutely correct. Throw in the fact that the Varsity Cup was created to break away from USA Rugby for their mismanagement of the CPD and lack of business acumen to make the CPD a commercially viable property while the Varsity Cup didn't secure sponsorship or broadcast partners, fill a huge stadium and racked up massive travel costs for many of the teams. If the Varsity Cup was the doing of USA Rugby this board would be full of angry posts about their incompetence.

Regarding the article above. BYU has found parity with Cal not by emulating them, but by becoming essentially a men's club. Cal follows a model that with support from university administrators could be replicated across the country. It is the same varsity model that provides the NFL and the NBA with a stream of talented athletes to staff their professional sports teams. The Cal model is scalable if and when university administrators support rugby.

The BYU model relies on importation of 21 year old "Freshman" that were playing men's club rugby in a rugby nation, and playing homegrown talent well into their 20s. Take Ryan Roundy. I remember watching him play on the USA Eagles U19 team in Belfast. The year was 2007 and his teammates included Nate Ebner, Nick Johnson, Scott LaValla, Zach Test, Sean Pittman and Taylor Mokate. Considering where these U19 teammates of Ryan's are now in their rugby career you have to ask WTF is Ryan doing playing college kids at BYU? The BYU model doesn't help collegiate rugby in the USA, and it hurts the national team as well.

It doesn't look like the VC "racked up massive travel costs", quite to the contrary. Of the 8 teams, only two teams traveled twice, CWU and Cal. No travel for UCLA. One quick trip for ND and Dartmouth. One easy trip for AF and Navy, both who can afford to travel.

If what we hear is correct the semis and final also generated the funds to pay for travel.

Cal travelled cross country
Navy travelled cross country
Dartmouth took an 11 hour motorcoach trip
Central Washington traveled to LA & Provo
Air Force traveled to LA
Notre Dame traveled to Annapolis
BYU traveled to LA

The total cost for travel and accommodations had to be in the high 5 figures. Just look at the airfare for Cal and Navy. Minimum cross country airfare from DC area to San Fran area is $500. 27 x $500 = $13,500 per team. That's $27K for just two teams' airfare. I wouldn't be surprised if the total costs weren't 100K plus.

No sponsors, no broadcast deal PLUS those travel costs and you have a failure.

Also the VC did not generate enough high level games to have a meaningful impact on player development. Cal, BYU, Life and the military academies have to budget to play other games outside of the VC which facilitates players development. The military guys aren't going to play much for the Eagles given other commitments. That leaves just three schools with the resources to develop future Eagles.

From what I understand, the average ticket cost was $18 or $19 ($25 for the center chairs and $15 for bleachers and standing room. With 3,000 paying fans, they probably cleared $40K, which gets divided up among the 8 participants. How much went to the participants when USAR ran the party when Cal & BYU put 12,000 people in Rio Tinto in 2011?

Maybe the D1A final gets 3K butts in seats, but how much control do the participants have over the process and the revenue? Zilch.

Good news everyone, BYU has named BYU not only "Varsity Cup National Champions" but as their poster clearly indicates they are also the 2013 "National Champions"!!!!


Hey BYU, anything else you want to declare yourselves? Are you also World Cup Champions? How about the Super 15 Champions while you're at. Do you think you should win the Six Nations Championship?

How does nobody else find this BS offensive. I'd like to know who told them they are National Champions? Rugby Mag? Did Jack Clark, Lord of Rugby declare them National Champions? just ridiculous.

Oh the arrogance and hubris of BYU rugby goes beyond a photo with a declared title. Get a load of this article - http://bit.ly/Ytnspu - which includes the following gems.

"...the 4000-plus fans at South Field witnessed was the dawning of a new era in collegiate rugby."

"...for decades the Cougars could not compete for a national title because of the fact that the championship was traditionally played on Sundays... in 2004, the game was switched to Saturday, opening the door for BYU to finally show what it could do." [victim card played]

"Saturday’s win over Cal was the Cougars’ third national championship in the last five years, and their first as a member of the newly-created Varsity Cup division of collegiate rugby. The mighty Bears have been forced to slide over and make room for another 800-pound gorilla in the sport in BYU." [Varsity Cup is now a division?]

"BYU essentially spearheaded the creation of the Varsity Cup in an effort to establish higher academic and eligibility standards for the club-level sport."

"With BYU leading the way, there is a new era dawning in college rugby–and if the past several years have been any indication, Cougar fans should have a lot of fun watching it unfold."

While the new USAR college eligibility regulations aren't perfect, this right here is an example of what they would prevent:

"The BYU model relies on importation of 21 year old "Freshman" that were playing men's club rugby in a rugby nation, and playing homegrown talent well into their 20s. Take Ryan Roundy. I remember watching him play on the USA Eagles U19 team in Belfast. The year was 2007 and his teammates included Nate Ebner, Nick Johnson, Scott LaValla, Zach Test, Sean Pittman and Taylor Mokate. Considering where these U19 teammates of Ryan's are now in their rugby career you have to ask WTF is Ryan doing playing college kids at BYU? The BYU model doesn't help collegiate rugby in the USA, and it hurts the national team as well."

By my calculations, under the Varsity Cup eligibility rules (and by the way, does CWU have stringent academic standards? More stringent than Kutztown? Doubtful. Found that statement about the Varsity Cup establishing higher academic standards strange) freshmen scrumhalf Luke Mocke will be playing for BYU until he is 26 years old (like Roundy was this year). Other than allowing BYU to play at the same level as Cal, how does that help rugby in this country? I'm fine if BYU says "we're not concerned about growing rugby, we just want to win at all costs." That's a fair position to take. But you can't talk out of both sides of your mouth and say your goal is to grow the game when I think the poster above did a pretty good job pointing out how the BYU model arguably fails in this respect.

Can anyone confirm that proceeds are split 8 ways? The game was held on BYU campus. The school just let them have the run of one of their best venues and split all of the proceeds? If so, great.

Im actually fine with them playing in the Varsity Cup "division"... And if other teams want to follow this model, that's fine. But you cant just go around telling people that you "won" the national championship by beating Cal... Who in the hell do these guys think they are. Are they the best team in college rugby...? maybe. more than likely yes, but as of now, they do not have a national governing body for which a national championship would even come from. And D1A has 2 (maybe 3) pretty good teams as well that would have a problem with these guys calling themselves the National Champs.

The arrogance of this competition is what pisses me off more than anything I guess. YOU LEFT USA RUGBY FELLAS, you don't get to win a National Championship. You get to win the Varsity Cup Championship and split the money between all of your teams. that should be good enough since that's what you were all bitching about before.

I looked it up, here are some 2012 stats comparing CWU (who was invited into the VC) to Kutztown (who I was told by one VC coach he would never participate in the same competition with). Looks pretty comparable to me, although maybe I don't know how to read this stuff:

Admissions Data (2012):

•Percent of Applicants Admitted: 80%
•Test Scores -- 25th / 75th Percentile •SAT Critical Reading: 440 / 550
•SAT Math: 450 / 560
•SAT Writing: 420 / 530

•ACT Composite: 18 / 24
•ACT English: 16 / 23
•ACT Math: 17 / 23
•ACT Writing: 6 / 8

Admissions Data (2012):

•Percent of Applicants Admitted: 68%
•Test Scores -- 25th / 75th Percentile •SAT Critical Reading: 430 / 520
•SAT Math: 430 / 520
•SAT Writing: 420 / 510

•ACT Composite: 17 / 22
•ACT English: - / -
•ACT Math: - / -

And just for kicks, here's Arkansas State:

•Percent of Applicants Admitted: 71%
•Test Scores -- 25th / 75th Percentile •SAT Critical Reading: 435 / 505
•SAT Math: 460 / 555
•SAT Writing: 400 / 480

•ACT Composite: 20 / 25
•ACT English: 21 / 27
•ACT Math: 19 / 25

And here's Life's purported minimum reguirements for undergraduate admission:

1. 2.0 GPA from high school or a passing score
2. A minimum SAT score of at least 1460 (if the SAT included the new writing portion of the exam) or a minimum ACT score of 19 (including essay portion)

Since Life's MINIMUM requirement for SAT scores is substantially higher than the 25 percentile of the SAT scores at CWU, a fair argument could be made that Life has higher admission standards for its students. Now, how taxing the undergraduate "Life Coaching" degree program is once you get to Marietta is another story, but the Varsity Cup's professed commitment to "academics" seems a bit strained given CWU's inclusion...Granted, that was an emergency situation where they needed someone to replace the Salt Lake Men's Club, but still...

And yes, I didn't spell "requirements" correctly. That's my worthless Ivy League degree for you.

Haters just gonna keep on hating...

Jack - do you think BYU should be calling themselves National Champions?

Personally, No I don't.

But Vitali Klitschko calls himself WBC World Champion, even though his brother Vladimir holds the WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO titles!

Haters gonna hate!

I'm surprised Jack Clark is endorsing this movement away from the national governing body and from what is a traditional varsity model. Yes the Varsity Cup follows NCAA rules regarding eligibility, but let's be honest about the type of athletes that are playing football and basketball in college and the type that are playing rugby.

First, there is no import of a foreign student athlete that is going to be more skilled in their sport than a homegrown talent. I'm sure if there were superstar point guards or quarterbacks from Mongolia that put USA counterparts to shame on the court or field, the NCAA would be stepping in to protect their interests in the sport. Just imagine if 2 or 3 universities were dominating football or basketball with imported players that blew away the American kids.

Second, the right out of HS athletes playing football and basketball are peers to 25+ year old athletes. Some are going directly to the pros from HS or only after 1 or 2 years playing in college. That's not the case in rugby.

My point is that for rugby to get to a point where there are 20 programs like Cal developing local HS age athletes into national team caliber rugby players the USA Rugby rules make sense. More Frankenstein teams like BYU and Life don't help the game.

Can USA Rugby do more than eligibility rules? Yes! I would start by assembling an A-Team that can go into a university and sit down with Athletic Department and Club Sports administrators and make the case for rugby. And by A-Team I am talking about former Athletic Directors with past experience, NBC Sports decision makers regarding the CRC, USOC administrators to discuss rugby and the Olympics, etc. This type of efforts would hopefully move more teams into the Cal model. If there were enough Cal model programs, we could handle a few Frankenstein programs in the mix.

JC is referring to BYU as national champions in his comments. This means he thinks they're champions even if I'm unsure. The CRC champ is going to do the same. The USAR D1A, D1AA, D2 are going to do the same. Soon there will be a Fall champ.

And let's not forget that the women have "solved" the seasonality issue and will now have a fall champion...

Fact Check - this is nothing new.
A few years ago I saw a headline that bragged, 'Radford wins National Championships.'
The following year they went up to D1, then the year after that they came back down again!

I think most sportsmen would agree that the definition of a national championship is as follows give or take a few minor points:

1) There a merit based method to pick teams that play in a finals tournament format to determine a champion.

2) Eligibility to compete is inclusive and representative of the entire nation.

3) A respected and long standing national governing body, of which the competitors are members, sanctions the competition.

The fact that there are divisional national championships is not a problem for me because each division meets the standards set above. With these very simple criteria it is hard to call the Varsity Cup anything more than an invitational tournament.

I'm struggling a bit to understand the "Frankenstein" moniker (used in this case as an epithet, I believe) applied to BYU. The LDS Church has long had a substantial membership in Tonga, Samoa, and to a lesser extent in Fiji and South Africa. For many of these kids, BYU is the low-cost, high quality solution for a University education. They grow up thinking of BYU as the "ideal", "if only I could" school.

David Smyth himself played for BYU at scrumhalf in the 80s, being a lifelong member (a tiny minority in Northern Ireland compared with the proportion of members in the islands , NZ or SA) came to BYU after serving a mission in, of all places, Oakland, CA. Many foreign kids, like Johnny Linehan, the freshman halfback, get exposed to the idea of attending BYU while serving stateside missions, and get the idea that it might be a reasonable and cost-effective place to get a high-quality university education not quite available to them back home. Being able to play rugby at a high level is, for them, a bonus.

I guess I just don't understand how Frankenstein enters into the equation.


We have D1a run by USAR, Fall Rugby run by themselves, Sevens tourney in the Fall, 7's in the Spring with the CRC and with the breakaway group.

We have conference play and an open cup style postseason.

Survival of the fittest and woever has the best product wins. Whoever wins will grow and that's good for rugby. All of these are ideas that have been tossed around for a long time - and now we can figure out which works best all at once. I couldn't have dreamed of a faster resolution. And they are all competing to make their product better to sell to broadcasters, sponsors, schools and young players.

Best case scenario.

I don't get the obsession with getting a tournament to crown not only the best team but 1-24 in the exact order.

What we need is to grow a better product, sell that product and increase participation and viewership. hat is not an opinion - that is the way that every sport in America has grown.

Whoever wins should be called the "Darwin Cup".

I think most people paying attention realize that USAR's is a complete failure. The Board hasn't achieved a single noteworthy accomplishment in many many years. CEO Melville cost way too much and is a poor executive without financial, operational or marketing skills. The Boulder staff could not get a mid-level position in any other sporting organization.

In view of this, we should all be tickled that USA7's LLC is arranging and managing the USA7's in Las Vegas and the CRC in Philadelphia.

We should be happy the small colleges run their own championship. Pleased the womens are beginning their own organization to pursue playing in the Fall. Happy that David Smyth at BYU started the Varsity Cup. Jazzed that the Super League and Elite Cup were and are brokered, financed and managed my the teams themselves.

I think most people are pleased and its only a few employee bloggers and company insiders at USAR that are running scared of the CRC and VC. They are running scared for the same reasons we are all happy, because competition is good for the growth of the game.

Thankfully we have a CRC so we know what is possible. Without this event, we would still think staging a college 7's national championship on open rec fields was the standard.

"We started off trying to set up a small anarchist rugby community, but people wouldn't obey the rules."

CPD Founders

@Southern Belle--The fact remains that Radford did win a National Championship--the DII national Championship. True, they did only last one year in the MARFU DI League (2008) but they did win two matches over UVA and Maryland.

I dont care if BYU plays with 50 year olds, the point is if they play in and win the Varsity Cup, then they are the Varsity Cup Champions and nothing more. If they want to win a National Championship then return to USAR (The National Governing body over Rugby in the USA) and play in whatever top competition they have. End story.

" I'm sure if there were superstar point guards or quarterbacks from Mongolia that put USA counterparts to shame on the court or field, the NCAA would be stepping in to protect their interests in the sport. Just imagine if 2 or 3 universities were dominating football or basketball with imported players that blew away the American kids."

See NCAA Hockey and NCAA Tennis.


The best homegrown hockey and tennis talent do not play the game in college endless they are seeking an education. The NHL or pro tour has our best.


Out of Commission's point is spot on. And, in fact, the NCAA has very strict rules affecting foreign athletes in basketball, and the ones that would be dominant (Enos Kantor at Kentucky is a good example) are usually disqualified from competing at the collegiate level.

They aren't disqualified for being dominant. Those types are disqualified because they played professionally or in a professional capacity before coming over. You really think Johnny Linehan played pro rugby in NZ?

For clarity. There are three different types of NCAA sports.

1) Directly impact the professional version of the sport by developing the majority of talent.

2) Sports where the best are not playing in college because there exists a farm system or academy system to develop the best to reach the pinnacle in their sport.

3) Olympic or international sports where the NCAA programs are providing very capable coaching and development, which very often surpases what other countries can provide, but not necessarily better than academies or say the USOC.

Basketball and football would be in category 1. Hockey and baseball would be in 2 as they have farm systems to develop the best athletes into pro prospects. Tennis, track and field, water polo, volleyball and swimming fall into category 3.

When thinking about rugby you have to look at the landscape. Club rugby is very weak from the perspective of developing players. The majority do not own any infrastructure, pay coaches/athletes or have funding to form a professional league. Rugby 7s now has a pathway with academies and the USOC to pay and develop athletes making it possible where athletes do not need to attend a university to develop into a USA 7s player or possibly a pro 15s player.

So, rugby is a category 1 and 3 hybrid, but if the goal is a pro 15s league category 1 needs to be the path forward.

Tennis is #2. How many top pros came out of NCAA programs. NCAA tennis can be a nice way to pay for college, but that's about it.

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