Western Playoffs

A good friend asked me to blog on the final match of the Western Playoffs down in Austin, TX this past weekend between the Austin Valkyries and the KC Jazz.

By all accounts I have heard/read, the KC Jazz – who are site hosts for half of Sweet 16s this month along with a site in South Carolina – wanted to forfeit the match to ensure they received the No. 2 Seed in the West (and could then stay home to play/host for Sweet 16s) instead of the No. 1 seed which would send them to South Carolina.

After not being allowed to forfeit, the KC Jazz opted to play poorly, “didn’t tackle and faked injury to get out of playing the second half”. I also saw that the game was called at the 50-minute mark, instead of the full 80 minutes. The Valkyries were awarded the win and the No. 1 seed.

My friend, in addition to other players, believes the Jazz “made a mockery” of the final.

Looking at this from the KC Jazz’s viewpoint, I can clearly see why you would want to stay home if you are supposed to host a large event, especially since the majority of your team would be in a different state, resources would be stretched to the max, etc.

So if this was the case and the Jazz realized they might be seeded to the South Carolina pools, was this addressed before the Western Playoffs? Couldn’t they have received a lower-seed to KC and still played the games, which would just move other seeded teams up a notch?

And if the Jazz decided to want to lose, why not pull your top starters? Play your b-side, but at least play the game as it should be done and respect your opponent as much as possible.

I would also be pissed if I was playing for the Valkyries, or any other team who finished lower than the Jazz at the Playoffs, like Denver HOGs, etc.

This is a tricky situation. From one side, I think the KC Jazz should be face some type of sanctions for this from the West Union. But at the same time, USA Rugby should’ve stepped in to help out a host team from having to travel to a different site and found a situation that benefits all teams involved.

Thoughts? Opinions? Did you see this match? Any KC Jazz players out there want to enlighten us?

In the Comments: Amy brings up a good point. Why, if we have just one division of 16 teams, are we at two different sites? Especially since South Carolina did handle all three men’s divisions at once? Or just finding a site with access to two or more fields?

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Filed under Austin Valkyries, KC Jazz, Sweet 16s, USA Rugby, Western Playoffs

14 responses to “Western Playoffs

  1. Anonymous

    i played in the final and i was sick with the outcome. my team showed up sunday morning expecting a hard match and we were severly disappointed with the outcome.

    i dont know that hey should be “punished” but some advanced planning could have been used. the valkryies could have bought tickets in advance…the hogs would have been a worthy opponent and would have helped the valks prepare for the hard matches in the future.

    it was a tricky situation and very unfortunate. good luck to everyone in the coming weeks.

  2. Amy

    What I don’t understand is why the women’s round of 16 is divided into two pools of 8. That in and of itself would have prevented this situation from occurring. Yes, women’s rugby has far less support than men’s in the US, but from what I understand Columbia supported the mens round of sixteen for the entire brackets for all three divisions last spring. Surely 16 womens teams could be supported for the weekend.

    If I’m missing something or just plain wrong, please explain. If nothing else it will make the memory of Sunday’s game a little less disappointing.

  3. Amy

    To clarify my comment, I mean: two groups of 8 teams playing in different cities instead of all four pools playing in the same place the same weekend.

  4. Anonymous

    i think USA Rugby dropped the ball on this as well, when they awarded the host duties to KC when they could forsee it was very possible that the Jazz could be the #1 seed.

    Also, would like to mention that plane tickets to SC are not cheap at all, and it unfortunate that several members of my club cant travel b/c of this.

  5. Anonymous

    I thought the Jazz decision on Sunday was somewhat thoughtless. Childish? It is obvious with comments like “wait and see what were gonna do in the final” and “You’re gonna love it” their Coaches and team leaders had no foresight that this lucid decision would come back to slap them in the face. Did they think they were being funny. Or that we would respect their tactics to not compete against Austin. My question is this: What kind of coach allows this? What kind of teammate allows this? Who votes on that sort of decision? Yes, I think we all understand why they wanted to stay in KC…That’s obvious! I am not so sure it is an acceptable excuse for what they did Sunday. Wouldn’t it have been just as easy to play the game, and if they won, concede the match to Austin and still walk away with heads held high? I am not so sure the Jazz could have beat Austin, but if they didn’t want to try, I bet there was a few teams standing around watching that joke of a game who would have liked to have tried! Maybe next time Jazz, you guys should just sign up for touch rugby back home and stay home. That would sure show Bill and USA rugby! Hopefully there are some Jazz players who were embarrased of their teams decision and of there team leadership…you should be! You really do have poor leaders and an inadequate coach who fully adminstered you to throw a game!

  6. Anonymous

    In the first place, there was meant to be 2 pools – one competitive and one social (as far as I can tell). How a college program competed in a club women’s competitive bracket leading to national championship seeding is foreign to me (good for A&M for doing so well, but as is always the case, the scorelines might not reflect what actually happened).

    Perhaps if the original competitive structure were kept the same as voted upon versus changing it a few weeks before the actual competition none of this would have happened at all. The issue became that there were not enough teams to make up the social bracket and the few teams that had committed to attending (good on you girls) would have been screwed. Now this perplexes me that the West cannot find any teams to come to a FREE high-level tournament when in 2 weeks time at least 14 teams will be paying big bucks to head to Albuquerque for High Dessert…..
    This all led to a joke of a championship final. PLEASE stop blaming USA Rugby for doing their job which is finding the best facilities possible for championship level events. I’m sure everyone would like the option of staying home for their part in the playoffs. The Jazz got what they wanted which is homefield advantage with little regard for West Women’s rugby. Key word being “West” – the responsibility points to the territorial administrators who were in attendance to witness the unfortunate occurrance. Here’s hoping it gets worked out so it doesn’t happen again. I for one do not need to see a semi-opposed practice session in place of a championship final ever again.

  7. ladykofton

    I have played for the Jazz for five years. I’ve been with them through years when we were dominant in the West (winning the West four years in a row). I battled with them on the field last year when we ended up a heartbreaking third in the West. That year we lost very close games to both Colorado Old Girls and Austin Valkyries. I have a lot of respect for both programs and am proud that along with those teams and teams like St. Louis, Black Ice, and Texas A&M we have all been so successful in strengthening West rugby.

    I wanted nothing more than to take the field on Sunday with my girls and fight to win back the West. We tried to work with the West and USA Rugby to see if there was any other possible recourse. The reality of the situation we faced was that if we played and won, we would likely be unable to come up with the resources to run the tournament and bring a full, competitive side to South Carolina (thus potentially weakening West rugby). My personal reality was that I would have had to figure out a way to solicit outside funding (something that most rugby players know is limited) to even consider travelling to South Carolina.

    It is no small thing to host the national tournament. Many people in Kansas City worked hard to win the bid and continue to work hard to make it a successful tournament. The ideal outcome would have been that we play the finals and USA rugby assigns the seeds to the venues accordinly. We were told this was not an option (yes we tried other options ahead of time). Absent that, the next best option would be to play the championship and then concede the number one seed to Austin regardless of outcome. Again, we were told this was not an option.

    None of us was happy with the situation. We feel cheated out of the opportunity to play Austin and legitimately win the West. It is my sincere hope that arrangements can be made in the future so that no other team finds themselves in this situation in which there really are no winners.

  8. Blondie

    Lady –

    Thanks for giving us the KC Jazz perspective. I had a feeling that there was more to this …

  9. Anonymous

    first of all thanks blondie for the great blog! – i read it all the time.

    i was present at the playoffs last weekend and the final “debacle”. i have to agree with all that i have read so far: kansas city should be embarrased as well as i am sorry that austin did not get a good game. not only did they not play hard, kick the ball out of bounds every time they got the chance, and etc.; but they outright laughed the whole time while doing it!

    i have to say that i don’t think that usa rugby dropped the ball. a team should not even apply for the venue if they think they might be gone and cannot follow through on their commitment. is it usa rugby’s job to make sure people are good on their word? i know several teams who have bid, won it, and then had a back up plan of a sister/brother/youth team set up to run it if they happen to be gone.

    besides all of the talk of the hosting commitment – i also heard talk that kansas city would not be able to field a whole team if they had to travel which was another reason they wanted to stay home. we all hate to hear that a division 1 team might not have enough people to travel to compete – but that is their problem and should not be a problem for the whole territory.

    one last sidenote complaint, this is one of the best venues for our very strung out and separated territory to get their players seen by selectors and etc. for the west select sides.. i hope that kansas city thought of that when throwing a game…

    hopefully the west will take care of this problem; although trying to fix the character of a team that would do this is a different sort of “fix”.

  10. Anonymous

    I played with the Jazz that day also. I laughed during the game to release the urge to hit somebody. I cried after the game because I so wanted to be successful that weekend. With all of my heartbreak I stand by my team’s decision and I realize we exhausted all options and I’d like to give a very big “Thank you” to Austin for all they did for us. The way I feel now, there is no reason why Kansas City should ever try to bid a round of 16 tournament again and unfortunately I’m sure there are other teams thinking the same thing.

  11. Anonymous

    If a team throws a league game they should be banned from postseason play for 2-3 years. I’m sorry but any justification for throwing a game is poor. It hurts the integrity of the sport and frankly it is wrong. USA rugby and the Union should take some sort of action.

  12. Anonymous

    An earlier post stated:

    “Perhaps if the original competitive structure were kept the same as voted upon versus changing it a few weeks before the actual competition none of this would have happened at all.”

    I think I understand that it was unfortunate that there weren’t other social teams who wanted to compete in that bracket and I know that the Texas A&M players were upset when they were informed that they were going to be bumped up to play the women’s teams, but I don’t see how any of that has anything to do with the decision to concede the championship game. Maybe this could be explained to me. I understand that it might have been a huge blow to a team’s ego to tie or lost to a college team and then maybe that made it difficult for them to recover so then they don’t make it to the championship, and “theoretically” that may have prevented the terrible fake championship match, but I really think it just sounds a bit like sour grapes.

    I understand there is quite some resentment for the Jazz. I think all the players for both teams on the field and all the players in the west on the sidelines watching were disppointed.

    I hope for the Jazz that they recover from this reputation tainting experience. I think all of us have had to do things we didn’t want to do because an authority figure or the majority decided the plan of action, like when an unpopular president gets re-elected. You have to tolerate all the policies and decisions until the next wave of leadership, hoping for better.

    The Jazz made an unpopular decision, yes, let’s learn from this. We can’t go back and change it and I know there are Jazz players who would have done differently if they could.

    But that doesn’t address the bitterness I sense from A&M being in the brackets. It was a wrench in the plan for everyone, and St. Louis (who played well even if there record was not impressive from the weekend) was an unexpected additon as well that insured an extra game for each one of the 4 other women’s teams. But they weren’t mentioned as causing additional problems in the brackets. If you are upset about a college side that gave you a run for your money, train a little harder next time, and don’t discount the inexperienced. Keep in mind that they regularly play against the Valkyries and were teammates alongside many of them. Plus the way their coach makes them train, they are beyond fit and that goes a long way.

    My best goes out to all the West teams, college and club. Let’s move on and show the rest of the country that even if there is some drama in our backyard, we will play some tough rugby and represent!

  13. Anonymous

    “recovery” has nothing to do with ego’s, but it has everything to do with the physical condition and well being of athletes. I’m fairly sure not many other DI women’s club teams would want to play a tough college side prior to a pool play match just because. Each club team had to do this, but which team did A&M put on the field for each game? Good for them for doing so well, but I’m sure when they go off to the collegiate west playoffs they would not want to play the valks right before they face off against Airforce. Just some food for thought, good luck to all teams, no sour grapes.

  14. Anonymous

    There’s a pattern of behavior here….

    Seems to me I remember a time at Sweet 16s in 2004 in Colorado Springs when the Jazz requested the game be cut 10+ minutes short (yes they were losing badly…but oh well) in the Pool *Final*…an embarrassment in general, let alone a national playoff match.

    If we want women’s rugby to be taken seriously, then we had better start by taking it seriously ourselves.

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