Broke? Not Broke but in Need of a Tune-Up?

Lots of talk all over about restructuring women’s rugby in our country.

And when I say lots, I mean here on the web, there on the web, and among us women’s ruggers … who truly should be the decision makers, in my humble opinion. The people out there practicing and playing. We talk about it on our team. I’m pretty sure it’s been brought up on your team too.

We talked about it on my team because we’re trying to rebuild and want to make sure we’re where we best fit naturally … which as it stands is “D-I AA” as one of my teammates put it. Meaning we’re capable at D-I, but struggle …

The “powerhouse” teams – we’ll say those who have made the D-I Elite 8 over the past 2-3 years – travel more extensively to find the necessary competitive games. A friend who plays for Atlanta and another friend who plays for Colorado both tell me stories about flying all over for games. If I played for their teams, I’m not sure I could afford to do that.

Goff wrote an opinion piece – Changes Needed in Womens Competitions (subscription required) – this week on how he thinks the women should restructure, with essentially a super league of the top teams, followed by lower tiers of the next level teams in D-I (D-I AA?). He credits Berkeley and Eagle coach Kathy Flores with this idea. He also mentioned D-II, but didn’t include them in any of his tiers. His breakdown:

Premier League West Conference
Twin Cities

Premier League East Conference
New York

That leaves a second tier as follows:

National League West
SF Fog
Belmont Shore
San Diego

National League Central
St. Louis
Black Ice
Kansas City

National League East
North Shore

National League teams earn a shot at promotion. Or perhaps we have a slot open for the national playoffs, where the National League champion can play a team from the Premier League for a place in the national semis.

We have the infrastructure. We have 31 clubs who want to play DI rugby. We have clubs and players willing to travel to play. We just need to start over with how they are organized.

I won’t get into the fact that these hypothetical leagues would have my own team – Wisconsin – traveling – at the very least – six to eight hours for our closest league games (currently 2.5 right now), and a glance at all the leagues looks similar. Some of you (West teams) already do that though.

My real question is do we need to “start over” with how our division is organized? What do you think? And is this realistic or affordable for the majority of teams? Will teams stay healthy over time?

I figured it was worth discussing in a wider forum …

On a somewhat related note for team health, does anyone have any recaps from the Women’s Rugby Roundtable down in Orlando during nationals?

Kelly in Iowa and I have been discussing the similar struggles of senior teams in Iowa and Wisconsin and our ideas for what we can do in our states to help.

Here in Wisconsin, we’re talking about a union-wide women’s committee to help teams, a liaison to the union that works to benefit all women’s teams and an “all-wisconsin” tournament for women in our state.

So A. if you have notes from the roundtable, pass them on in the comments please. And B. if you have ideas or experience with building up the women’s game in your own area of the country, pass that on too.

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Filed under D1, D2, opinion, Sweet 16s, Use Your Voice

3 responses to “Broke? Not Broke but in Need of a Tune-Up?

  1. Em

    I emailed the WRF and they said they were going to publish a summary/minutes after the forum. Hopefully those will be available soon.

  2. Jennie

    Wow, what a concept, do you think women could actually have three divisions like the men do at the club level (note sarcasm here). And I love that DII wasn’t in the tier.
    Ok, so now that I’ve gotten that sass out I should say that I’m glad you have started this discussion here. It is important.
    If this tier system happened I would hope what are now DII clubs would be included, and like I said earlier I think we should have three divisions. The First Division as you mentioned as a premier league. I’d also likely see new teams enter the national league (DII). Since I was recently playing in the Northeast I could see teams such as Morris, Village Lions, Hartford, ect. being able to compete at this level. Then DIII would be for newer teams, start up teams, ect.
    And really just take a look at how the men club teams organize. Many clubs have fluctuated between DI and DII or DII and DIII as the teams loses and gains players, ect. Having the flexibility to go between divisions I think help teams. They will motivate teams to try to move up a division, and help teams who need to rebuild by going down a division. And each division could be legitimized with a national championship, such as the men have.
    But the fact that women’s rugby in the US is considered only to exist and the DI level is a myth that needs to be dispelled.
    I think legitimizing all women’s rugby can only aid the growth in our country, and the more growth we have, the more teams we develop and the less travel we have to do, and with less travel, more players, more teams, ect.

  3. Anonymous

    There would definitely need to be a mechanism for clubs to rise and fall from the premier devision level. There was a lot of shakeup this year and future years will likely be just as fluid. Same w/bottom DI(National) and top of DII.

    Good thing is it would likely make finding matches easier for the premier clubs which usually plan/budget to travel anyways – esp Pac NW.


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