Thursday, July 21, 2016

PRP Could Be A Natural Fit For BYU

Yesterday Alex Goff of the Goff Rugby Report shared an excellent piece noting that BYU is likely not going to be playing in the Varsity Cup next year. Apparently some teams in the Varsity Cup were in disagreement over eligibility citing BYU playing Nic Purcell who play in the NFL before playing for the Cougars. We're going to put that discussion aside for now to talk about a different issue--where is BYU going to play next year?

If BYU aren't going to be in the Varsity Cup what are their options. DI-AA is completely out of the question as they are far too good. DI-A is also very unlikely. Although BYU would have a natural home in the West Conference it was questions of eligibility that helped drive BYU to form the Varsity Cup in the first place. So if they aren't going to play in DI-AA, DI-A, or the Varsity Cup what are their options?

Take the jump to read more.
The way we look at it BYU has three options. They can go with an independent schedule, they can form a new competition, or they can join a men's club competition. The independent schedule might be the most likely. BYU pretty much set their own schedule as it is with top games against St. Mary's and other Western teams always on the docket. They consistently play one of the toughest schedule in America and if they have a challenge game against Cal they can call that their national championship.

The second option is forming a new competition. It's a gross simplification of all the factors but that is essentially what was done with the Varsity Cup when BYU had disagreement over U.S.A. Rugby's eligibility rules (Just a note, the question is over years of eligibility, not the use of foreign players. Many members of the LDS Church serve two years mission, which now often start at age 18 (it used to be 19) and it was felt that these players were discriminated against under the new rules.) The major problem is getting other teams to go with them. Cal may be up for it again but then who else do you invite? Central Washington? At what point does it become something marketable like the Varsity Cup was becoming.

Another option could be to join a men's club competition. DI is not really an option given rules but the PRP would be a natural fit. The PRP, outside of PRO Rugby, is the deepest men's competition in the U.S. and BYU would instantly come in and be competitive. It would also give BYU twelve meaningful matches and if the PRP switches to a mixed season in the fall and the spring then it should leave enough time for BYU to play their traditional opponents. BYU joining the PRP would also be a boon for the league. The Cougars have a great facility and a solid broadcast. They run like a professional team. They could come in and strengthen the league while at the same time putting them in a strong rugby market.

There is precedence for something like this at BYU. Their men's soccer team is in the same category of club sports as the rugby team and they have been playing in the PDL, a club U-23 soccer competition, for many years with the school administration's blessing. There is no reason to think why they wouldn't do the same for the rugby team.

What BYU does is going to be interesting to watch. At this point who knows? Maybe they will come to a solution and play in the Varsity Cup next year. Whatever they decide the Cougars are still going to be one of the top college teams in the country and will always be in the discussion for a national championship.

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