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The way for rugby to make most of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity

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I have found it fascinating following the debate this week regarding the future of the global game. You could almost hear the tectonic plates shifting as one by one club owners and administrators acknowledged problems which have long been issues but which have now been brought to the fore by the coronavirus pandemic; the over-reliance on television revenues, on rich benefactors, the unsustainable commercial structure of club rugby, the unwieldy international calendar, the self-interest which has influenced decisions.

The interesting thing is that this crisis might actually prove to be good for the game in the long run. I thought London Irish owner Mick Crossan was spot on when he said the pandemic might be the “the kick up the backside” the professional game needs – for all the right reasons.

Certainly that is the way the game has to look at it. As much as there is going to be short-term pain, this forced hiatus has at least provided an opportunity to hit the reset button (off the field at least – onfield, in my opinion, the game has never looked so good).

When you think about it, it’s easy to see how we have reached this point. After the initial ‘land grab’ when the game went professional in the mid-1990s, everything has just been bolted on; a competition here, a TV deal there. We have had 25 years of largely opportunistic growth. Every union, every league, every tournament developed down its own path, with the result that everyone is out to protect their own interests. 



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USA Rugby

Cal Maritime rugby team set for season opener Saturday at Bodnar Field – Times-Herald

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For the first time program history, Cal Maritime’s schedule will mirror a format used by a vast majority of college rugby teams across the country when its 15s schedule officially begins at home at noon on Saturday against Fresno State.

“We will still continue to play 15s games throughout the winter and spring against Cal or East Coast-based teams during their respective spring breaks since Northern California’s weather provides that luxury,” said Keelhaulers head coach Steve Hiatt, “but our (15s) league schedule and competitive focus will take place in the fall.”

Traditionally, college rugby is played year-round from August through May with schedules shaped by weather in respective areas of the country. This is why teams based in the Northeast and Midwest played 15-v-15 games from August through November, then returned to action from March-May with their 7-v-7 season since unsuitable conditions and extreme weather often created an unsafe playing environment outside those time spans.

As was the case at Cal Maritime, other West Coast teams previously played a handful of 7s tournaments in the fall and a few 15s preseason games in the late fall, followed by league matchups scattered throughout the winter and spring months.

The only exception to that general rule involved postseason and/or championship games that previously took place in the spring.

Since schedules were predominantly organized in this manner, three of the four teams competing for a championship were determined in the fall and forced to wait until April to find out which West Coast team completed the playoff field each year.

With approximately 80 percent of college rugby teams organizing their games in an opposite manner compared to the Keelhaulers and their West Coast peers by scheduling 15s games in the fall, a few friendly matches in the spring, followed by 7s’ league slate, this inconsistency left many college rugby fans feeling frustrated.

Once USA Rugby went bankrupt in the spring of 2020, most Division I and II schools with rugby teams (primarily club) joined Cal Maritime as members of the National Small College Rugby Organization. By shifting its focus on smaller colleges to teams that competed at other levels, as a response to this rapid growth, the NSCRO became a multi-divisional governing body now known as National Collegiate Rugby.

To address fan frustration and eliminate scheduling inconsistencies, NCR chose the fall months as the 15s primary season, adjusted its championship tournament, moved 7s competition and and its playoffs to the spring. Even though some schools preserved a traditional format for their 2021-22 15s and 7s schedules, the Northern California Collegiate Rugby Conference (Cal Maritime’s conference affiliation) adapted NCR’s national scheduling template and rearranged its 15s and 7s season accordingly.

Even though college rugby’s governing body changed its name and competitive structure, Cal Maritime will still compete against programs of similar size in the Men’s Small Colleges Division since their Division I and Division II counterparts enjoy the luxury of a bigger student body to pull from.

“When you consider a university of Cal Maritime’s size, rugby’s on-campus culture is strong because over 60 people signed up to compete for a spot on a roster that will feature 35-40 cadets,” Hiatt said. “Even though this is a frontier sport that is followed, let alone played by a limited portion of the public, drawing interest from nearly 10 percent of the cadet population shows how powerful and impactful this sport is on campus.

“This program is proud of its culture, history and how cadets embraced the sport of rugby.”

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USA Women’s XVs National Team Announce Full Squad For Autumn Internationals

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Courtesy of USA Rugby

GLENDALE, CO. – Head Coach Rob Cain has selected 30 players for the Women’s Eagles’ first test series in nearly two years. The team will face Canada twice on November 1 and 5 at Infinity Park in Colorado, Ireland on November 12 in Dublin, and England on November 21 at Sixways Stadium in Worcester. 

The broadcast will be confirmed in the coming weeks.

Tickets for USA vs Canada series at Infinity Park »  

Tickets for USA vs England at Sixways Stadium » 

Roster Highlights

  • 5 players represent the USA Sevens including Sarah Levy, 2020 Olympians Kayla Canett, Alev Kelter, and Kristi Kirshe, as well as 2016 Olympian Nana Fa’avesi 

  • 5 players could make their senior national team debut 

  • 13 players are signed with professional clubs from the Allianz Premier 15s 

  • 25 players were at the most recent Daily Training Environment in June/July

  • Unavailable for selection: Cassidy Bargell, Amelia Bizer, Stacey Bridges, Emily Henrich, Mata Hingano, Leti Hingano, Erica Jarrell, Jordan Matyas 

Head Coach Rob Cain said:

“I know I speak for everyone when I say we can’t wait to be out there again. Two years since our last international and the prospect of testing ourselves on the world stage is an exciting one and something we are all grateful for. 

“There were obviously some very challenging times in the past couple of years, but our players have been phenomenal in striving to get where we want to be. It’s great to see the light at the end of this tunnel where we can showcase this in some fascinating matches next month. 

“We are very aware of the challenges that all four games present. Whether it’s Canada’s physicality or the number of test matches Ireland and England have played in the past couple of years, we can’t wait to meet those head-on against some of the best in the world.

“Thank you to the players’ families, their workplaces, and the fantastic USA rugby community for their continued support. You are the difference-maker for the players, and we can’t wait to represent you on the world stage again.” 

Last test series

The USA Women’s Eagles haven’t had a test match since November of 2019 where they faced Canada twice at the Elite Athlete Training Center in Chula Vista, CA. Canada were victorious in both games with scores of 0-19 and 24-52. Since then, the USA Women’s XVs have spent significant periods of time training as a group in multiple 6-8 week Daily Training Environments. DTEs included intrasquad scrimmages to boost competitive preparation and help coaches measure progress in the absence of international play. 

Changes for the Global Women’s Game 

The program and global women’s game have both hit important milestones recently. An unprecedented number of Eagles were placed in professional clubs to compete alongside the best in the world in the Allianz Premier 15s while World Rugby confirmed the annual Pac Four series, presented by MasterCard. 

Pac Four will be a regularly contested tournament featuring the United States, New Zealand, Canada, and Australia. Next month’s USA-Canada fixtures form part of the event’s regional series with the Black Ferns and Wallabees joining the group in 2022 ahead of the World Cup. 

Planning for Rugby World Cup 2021 in New Zealand continues to progress with Italy confirmed as part of the Women’s Eagles’ pool. The Americans will face Canada, Italy, and Asia I in Pool B as competition runs October 8 to November 12 of next year. Matches are broadcast on NBC’s family of networks with a full match schedule available here

The Impact of COVID-19

It is known that COVID-19 has impacted every nation and sporting program differently. Where most teams will enter their Autumn Internationals having played some level of competitive internationals since the pandemic, the Women’s Eagles have had to adapt without such opportunities while also balancing full-time jobs. 

The program and its players are known for their resilient efforts in training and preparation but much cannot be accomplished without support from the community. Both individual players and the program itself rely on philanthropic contributions to run Daily Training Environments and mitigate the financial impact to players who must take leave from their professional jobs. 

To give a gift to the Women’s Eagles or underwrite an upcoming assembly in the lead-up to Rugby World Cup, contact creed@usa.rugby or click here

Women’s Eagles Full Squad 

NAME

POSITION

CLUB

CAPS

Catherine Benson

Prop

Sale Sharks (ENG)

23

Amy Talei Bonte

Center

Gloucester Hartpury (ENG)

6

Elizabeth Cairns

Back Row

Life West Gladiatrix

11

Kayla Canett

Fullback

USA Sevens

7

Gabby Cantorna

Flyhalf/Center

Exeter Chiefs (ENG)

8

Jennine Detiveaux

Wing

Exeter Chiefs (ENG)

7

Rachel Ehrecke

Back Row

Colorado Gray Wolves

uncapped

Joanne Nana Fa’avesi

Center

USA Sevens

2

Tess Feury

Fullback

New York Rugby

6

Megan Foster

Flyhalf

San Diego Surfers

5

Saher Hamdan

Hooker

Life University

uncapped

McKenzie Hawkins

Fullback

Colorado Gray Wolves

3

Katana Howard

Flyhalf

Sale Sharks (ENG)

4

Charli Jacoby

Prop

Loughborough Lightning (ENG)

6

Nick James

Prop

Sale Sharks (ENG)

12

Kathryn Johnson

Back Row

Twin City Amazons

7

Alev Kelter

Center

USA Sevens

13

Kristi Kirshe

Wing

USA Sevens

uncapped

Joanna Kitlinski

Hooker

Colorado Gray Wolves

14

Jenny Kronish

Lock

Beantown Rfc

uncapped

Maya Learned

Prop

Gloucester Hartpury (ENG)

2



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Ireland’s Women’s rugby team announce autumn tests against the U.S and Japan

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IRELAND’S WOMEN’S rugby team will soon return to action ,when they the team play back-to-back autumn tests against the United States and Japan in November next month. 

Ireland will play the USA, ranked sixth in the world, on Friday 12th November (Kick-off 7.15pm) and Japan on Saturday 20th November (Kick-off 3pm).

On the IRFU website, it is stated that the orginsation is looking forward to see supporters back to the Women’s international test since the Covid-19 pamdemic began in March 2020.

Everything from ticket prices, broadcast details, and travel support will be announced within the next week

Parma , Italy – 25 September 2021; Eimear Considine of Ireland (Photo By Roberto Bregani/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Commenting on today’s announcement, IRFU Director of Women’s and Sevens Rugby, Anthony Eddy, said:

“We’re delighted to confirm these two Test matches against quality opposition, with both USA and Japan set to provide a big challenge during the November window. It’s a good opportunity for the group to get back on the pitch and also provides opportunity for other players to perform at this level and showcase their talent on the international stage.”

Ireland Captain, Ciara Griffin, said: “We’re looking forward to two Test matches on home soil this November, and we’re excited about the opportunity to play in front of our supporters again. The group will reassemble in the coming weeks and put the building blocks in place ahead of two big Tests. A Friday Night game under the lights promises to be a special occasion and we hope to see as many of our supporters as possible.”

Ireland Women Autumn Tests

Ireland v USA, Friday 12th November, 7.15 pm.

Ireland v Japan, Saturday 20th November, 3 pm.

 



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