Update on High School Girls National Invitational Tournament

I received an e-mail today that I have been given permission to share with all you, as long as I kept the sender and their identifying information anonymous. Suffice to say, this person played an important role at the NIT.

The letter answers, at least from one person’s experience, what happened with Vernon High School (a great team here in Wisconsin) and the reports that they dropped out/were forced out of the NIT at the last minute. See all previous posts on the 2006 NIT, including various comments, here sorted by date.

Please know that I have only deleted personal identifying information about the sender from the letter, such as name, title, etc. No other information has been deleted or edited in any manner.

Hello – I was the [deleted] for the 2006 high school girls NIT which was held this year in Portland, Maine. I have been following some of the posts on your website in regards to the NIT, and I wanted to respond. Because I am the [deleted], I am going to try to stay objective; however, I would appreciate staying anonymous. Thanks!

First of all – I would like to thank you for your coverage of the 2006 High School Girls NIT. The newspapers in Portland, Maine did not give the tournament the coverage that it deserved.

Also – the final brackets, including final scores and rankings is now on the tournament website. http://www.supersows2006nit.com/GameBracket.html

Photographs from the tournament are currently posted at: http://www.ejsphotography.com

Game write-ups for the final three games will be posted in next month’s Rugby Magazine. In addition, the Fort Collins coach has provided some great game write-ups (for the Fort Collins games), which can be found at http://lamar.colostate.edu/~greg/fcyr.htm

In response to the comments in regards to the Vernon team backing out at the last minute…

[deleted] received an email from the Vernon coach on Thursday morning (opening ceremonies were Friday) informing [deleted] that the Vernon team would not be traveling to the NIT because of senior graduation. While this is a legitimate excuse, these dates (graduation and NIT) had been set in stone for a long while, and if that were the true reason, they could have backed out weeks before. In all honesty, they could have not signed up for the tournament at all.

By backing out at the last minute, they left a spot open in the Plate brackets, which was graciously filled by a B-side team (Mason Dixon), which was comprised of State College and West Carroll Players. This changed the Plate bracket from a 4-team round robin (all of whom where great teams, and would have led to a competitive and exciting Plate bracket), to essentially a 3-team round robin, with B-side teams filling in the schedule. The teams who traveled to Portland, Maine to compete in the Plate competition were disappointed that they would be playing in a less-competitive bracket. And, by canceling so late, they made it impossible to try to find another team to fill their spot.

(On a side note – A big thank you should go out to the coaches of those two teams – Brett Hoffman, and Brad Rockwood, who were willing to donate players to the B-side team so that the Plate bracket could be played without additional problem.)

I am not saying anything negative about the Vernon high school team (and especially players), so … before you say anything, superrugbymom [previous commenter at this post], you need to understand that the Vernon team was invited to the tournament because they are an extremely talented team who has shown in the past that they are capable of competing at the National level. I don’t think anyone is “bashing” the team. Their choice was to back out of a National-level tournament two days before they were scheduled to kickoff. Their names were printed on the tournament t-shirts, lobsters had been ordered for the Saturday picnic dinner, the schedules were finalized, the refs were assigned, and most teams were already en-route to the tournament. And in review of the previous posts, I don’t think anyone is calling the Vernon girls “classless”, I think that they are calling the fact that the team sent an email to the [deleted] two days before kickoff, saying that they would not attend, “classless”. (But that’s just my interpretation of previous posts).

And just so that it is clear to everyone how the teams are seated… In general – the top 8 teams at the NIT are comprised of the top teams from around the country. Typically, as it has been decided in the past, the top 2 teams from each division (EPRU, PNW, and Midwest), along with the top teams from the Northeast and the South, comprise the Championship bracket at the NIT (top 8 teams). Usually, the 3rd place teams from the EPRU, PNW, and Midwest are interested in attending (as they are typically very competitive). The Plate Bracket is comprised of teams that did not finish in the top 2 in their division, or by invitation. Final rankings and brackets are decided by the tournament director, with a team of fellow coaches, division directors and knowledgeable individuals. This is not a “National Committee”, this is just a collaboration of opinions on how the teams should be ranked entering the NIT.

On a slightly different issue – there is no official National Committee that is in charge of organizing this tournament. The actual tournament is funded and organized by the hosting team, which was the Portland Super Sows, in conjunction with their coaches [deleted] and parent volunteers. At this point in time, the U19 Girls National Tournament is not recognized by USA Rugby. This may be changing in the future, due to the high level of rugby that is being played by U19 girls around the country, and the successes of the NITs in the past. In addition, there has been talk about forming a National High School Girls Rugby Committee, which would be comprised of representatives from around the country. The purpose of this committee would be to perform rankings and seatings of teams entering the NIT, and would work with USA rugby to get the U19 girls rugby NIT as a sanctioned USA Rugby event.

I hope this helps clear up some of the issues. [deleted] have had enough negative correspondence about the Vernon team, and [deleted] am tired of irate parents spouting off and blaming the wrong people. Despite the setback associated with Vernon not attending, the NIT was completed, and great rugby was played by all. The setbacks should not define the event. Let’s talk about the amazing final game between Kent and DSHA…which went through two overtime periods, and eventually into kicks. I think everyone who watched the game would agree that it was some of the best high school girls rugby that I have ever seen played. AND THAT IS WHAT IT IS ALL ABOUT!

So, thank you Sender for your e-mail and as I have said all along, it’s important that – in our women’s rugby community, online or on the pitch – that we communicate and support each other. It’s unfortunate that this happened, but again, it’s pretty exciting to see that this tournament was successful and that U-19 and High School Girls rugby is growing in leaps and bounds.

I’m sure that anyone my age (late 20s plus) would jump at the opportunity to have learned to play rugby in high school, not in college or later. I’m happy to see that so many younger players now have a chance to play a great sport.

As always, if you have something to add to this, please feel free to comment or e-mail me and I will share it with the readers.

I am also very excited knowing that this weekend, I’ll be able to see first-hand some great U-19 girls rugby down in Elkhart, Indiana. Go Wisconsin!

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