Emily in New Jersey e-mailed me this today about D-I and D-2 women’s teams (I added italics) …
In response to one of the comments on the page http://saturdayrugbyday.blogspot.com/2006/04/our-thoughts-on-women-shunning-scrums.html:
This I fully agree with:
“Another issue I’ve heard is the difficulty in finding a club since many grads don’t have the cash to live in Manhattan/SF/Chicago or the intensity of D1 might be too much for younger players. This is where supporting D2 level clubs is important. It is easier to start a D2 club in the suburbs or remote areas and they tend to have less expensive travel requirements. Only issue is some of the more competitive players might get bored on a lower level w/out intense competition but this might be remedied by some sort of D2 ITTs or seasonal D2 AllStar matches.” & “Unfortunately there are too few D1 teams to absorb all the college grads(even factoring in D1 B-Sides) so it seems only a relatively few All American level players stick it out in D1. Again, a better developed D2 league might help.”
I am currently with a D2 side, and it is perfect for me. Competitive, but not elite, D2 allows those of us without the time/money/location/desire/ability to compete at the elite level to play rugby! I would like to see D2 grow more nationwide, and hope it does so as the women that are responsible for the doubling of the number of college sides graduate. All territories would be well served to differentiate between D1 and D2 sides, as a viable D2 helps keep players in the game. I am sure it is discouraging to live in Houston and play for HARC and be constantly crushed by the Austin Valks. Furthermore, Men’s rugby has Super League, D1, D2 and D3, all of which have national championships, allowing men of all levels to aim high and compete! Us women should have the same! (ok, at least D1 & D2!)
Now, the below I take issue with:
“In this instance D1 teams might play a Big Sister role to local D2 clubs(sort of like the farm team system in baseball). NYRCW seems to do this by helping out some of the Village Lions(NYC) and Morris(New Jersey) players via the NRU by including select players in some training routines. NYRCW’s benevolence raises the level of local D2 competition and also provides themselves a nice feeder system for future players without bloating their A & B sides.”
Morris & the Village Lions are fully self sufficient clubs and are not “helped out” by NYRC. Also, the NYRC does not run the NRU Select Side and it is insulting to imply that the non-NY players that are selected are done so as a favor to the D2 teams (or Beantown, Boston, and Keystone). It is true that some players have left D2 teams over the years to play for NY and hone their skills in hopes of make the WNT pool. I suspect this also occurs in areas where D2 doesn’t exist between D1 teams of different levels of competitiveness (ie Denver Black Ice and the Olde Girls). However, lets keep in mind that there are players with non-elite teams (ie. Houser, Braymer) that are in the WNT pool. On a related note, the B-side of elite teams like NYRCW tend to be very competitive in matches with good D2 sides. I believe that if the B-side players are being groomed to play elite rugby, this shows the level of competition in D2 to be significant.
President, Morris Women
Thanks Emily for giving us a further perspective on this issue.
I know from my own experience on a D-I team that’s struggling in a very tough league, we play a lot of really good D-2 teams to stay competitive outside of our conference like the Detroit Women and the Minneapolis Menagerie. And we also have a history of our players moving to more competitive fellow D-1 teams like the Valkyries, North Shore and New York, like you mentioned with your Denver/Black Ice example.
I think it is only a matter of time before USA Rugby sanctions D-2 women’s rugby and hopefully starts organizing the D-1 and D-2 teams more clearly as well. Organization would give some more legitimacy, communication and support to D-2 teams and all women’s rugby teams. I also think that there are a number of D-2 teams that could/should compete at D-1 and probably a few D-1s that would fare better at D-2. A better system across the board would benefit so many players.
Personally, a few people have told my teammates and I that our team, which has struggled in the past few years, should consider switching divisions to D-2 to better deal with a smaller roster in a smaller city (Madison is 218,000 (2003) compared to the Twin Cities area – 2, 000,000 – and Chicago – 2, 800,000 – where our league counterparts reside). It’s something we have discussed, but in the end our team has a long history of being D-1 and it’s something we are used to being and want to continue to be a part of. I think it’s really up to the team and what works best for your team.
What does everybody else think?