BCRU Introduces New Rules of Competition Document for Next Season
posted June 20 2017
[ed. comments below]
The BCRU board has introduced a new rules of competition document, the link below contains the .pdf.New Rules of Competition
The document was created in collaboration with the Competition Committee but in the end the Board overruled the committee on certain key points.
I epitomize it as a "grow or die" strategy, expand your club or wither away. That's the feeling I get from reading the new rules. The BCRU must feel they are mandating growth but unless they provide the tools to help clubs grow they are simply putting the burden on clubs with higher expectations.
It will create a few super clubs but more will suffer with the new rules. It will have some adverse affects, in order to attain super club status by 2018-19 and fulfill the Premier requirement of three men's teams, some clubs will have to look outside for players. One of the targets will be smaller local clubs who will have a harder time retaining players, especially high potential players. The Premier clubs will likely be ruthless in going after the lowest hanging fruit, the top talent at adjacent, smaller clubs. There's nothing in the competition document that dissuades that or even addresses the issue. So the smaller clubs will have to grow and aspire to be Premier or suffer the consequences. There may be merging of clubs in this "grow or die" environment the BCRU is creating. The effect will be different depending on the dynamics of the region. Lower Mainland is very different from Island in this respect.
The new incentive plans even compounds the problem, men's Premier teams will be rewarded for having a women's team, 30 junior males and 20 junior females registered. For each box a club checks off they'll be allowed more imports, carded players and capped players. Therefore their senior men's team will win more games and be more successful, it's grow or die. Some clubs are well positioned to benefit from this, they'll no doubt be very supportive of the plan.
Feel free to comment using the FB comments section. I've included a letter from Phil Meyer who is a little upset at some of the terms. Phil is a JBAA guy but Nik Witkowski, also a JBAA guy, is on the board that produced the document. That would be an interesting conversation.
Personally in the big picture I think the solution is to introduce professional rugby even if it's emerging professional like they're trying in the states. Fostering super club amateur teams is still amateur rugby, the coaches aren't better, neither are the training facilities and most importantly the players still have to work jobs and only train to an amateur level. You need several professional teams in BC with players training full time under competent coaches. With Seattle going that route with the MLR a four team league would be a start and seeing 60 Canada eligible players working full time at rugby would improve elite rugby without killing the amateur game. All amateur clubs in BC would be equal, more regional play and a defined professional pathway to attract and retain youth players. It would require Rugby Canada to put out a request for proposals and a financial backer to get through the first two years.
BCRU are thinking they're mandating growth and excellence but you can't do that with a piece of paper, there will be unintended consequences that will hurt rugby in some areas. Letter from Phil Meyer
BC Rugby Union
Dear Ms. Shorter:
I am writing you to express concern over Sections 4.c and d – and 8.2 – which, taken together, will have the effect of benefiting BC Premier rugby clubs with larger populations from which to draw players, at the expense of clubs in areas with smaller populations – under rules governing how many impact players may take the field in any game.
Enhancing youth rugby and female rugby in British Columbia are valid objectives. But benefiting some teams and penalising others by manipulating who is allowed into actual play in any game has not, to my knowledge, been initiated in any reputable sporting competition in North America or beyond. (I exclude professional wrestling.) In fact, the great attraction of sport for all of us is that at the start of each game, rules and procedures give all competitors an equal chance of success.
Clearly, competition where the rules of play will, by design, favour some teams over others will diminish the regard with which top rugby games in British Columbia are held – the interest of participants, spectators and the press – and our ability to describe the BCRU Premier League as a “top Canadian competition”.
Please reconsider this unfortunate initiative, and find other ways to improve junior and women’s rugby in our province.
I have been involved in rugby for 65 years – starting as a small boy in Oak Bay – then elsewhere in North America as a player, coach, referee and administrator. This brief note does not reflect consultation or review by anyone else engaged in rugby – it is solely from me. I am copying those on your Board who I have known and worked with over the years, and for whom I have emails that I think might still work.
Thank you for your consideration.
cc. BC Rugby News