BCRU League Updates

December 11 2019


BCRU
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BCRU Senior Men’s XVs Leagues – Version 2.0 Proposal



The BCRU has put out its latest proposal to clubs for changes to the existing League structure, called appropriately 2.0. The big change is they removed the overlay of Regional and Club play which was generally not supported by clubs. Now they're proposing the McKechnie Cup would take place in the early fall and the Club season would start later. This should receive more support from Clubs. This season started September 7th but even some games from September 14th were moved back to September 21st as some clubs weren't ready for the early start, there shouldn't be too much push back on a September 26th start for the club season. There are some benefits to starting regional play first, it may be an incentive for aspiring players across Canada to come to BC for the season, it sets the standard of play for the season early on, it gives Jamie Cudmore and the Pride an early look at talent in the Regions. As Pride players cycle out of the program there's an ongoing need to bring new players into the program.

The other major point is the coupling of Premier and Reserve. The BCRU is standing firm on their desire to strengthen the regional Division 1 competition by putting the Premier Reserve teams in Division 1. Club support will be split on this, clubs like Surrey, Abbotsford, Cowichan, Bayside, Port Alberni should support a stronger Division 1, some existing Premier clubs won't like it as they difficulty putting together two separate squads of 23, especially with sufficient front row. The BCRU document has a FAQ section that addresses these issues.

At first look Version 2.0 appears to be a big improvement and it will be interesting to see how clubs respond and whether this will be implemented as is or as a 2.x version in September 2020.

BCRU MEN'S LEAGUE PROPOSAL VERSION 2.0

McKechnie Cup

CHANGE: This will be a fall-only competition, commencing early September, and consist of 6 to 8 rounds in total (i.e. including any playoff matches).

A maximum of two weekends may have both McKechnie Cup and club fixtures scheduled, however Clubs that have a high number of players involved would be prioritised for scheduled byes on those weekends.

This change aims to address the concerns of player conflict, reducing the
overlapping weeks of play with club fixtures and better align this competition to the competition calendar of the MLR and Men’s National XVs programs, including U20s.

The objective of this competition is to provide a highly competitive rugby experience for young, aspiring players without having to leave their home club. This competition would also facilitate BC Bears selection, who would have a winter schedule meeting MLR franchises in their pre-season (January).

Club Leagues

CHANGE: All full-season Club leagues would not commence until the third Saturday after Labour Day. In 2020, this is September 26.

CHANGE: Based on Division 1 Clubs’ feedback, we are proposing that Premier
Reserve is merged with Division 1 and becomes one league. To couple with Premier sides, scheduling would prioritise this above all else but Premier sides would cross the Strait without a travelling 2nd XV (i.e. decoupled).

CHANGE: The 12-a-side league would only be offered in the spring and will allow flexibility in number of players to take the field (i.e. up to 15-a-side if both teams have the numbers). We wish to avoid this conflicting with Division 3 but be a recreational league for Clubs wishing to offer a low-commitment program. Having a league commencing in the spring would also promote school graduates, who have traditionally played rugby in the spring, to play club rugby.

Therefore, it’s proposed that Leagues on offer for the 2020/21 Season are:

Leagues Entry Structure

McKechnie Cup 4 to 6 Academy Teams, including Pride
6 to 8 matches, 2-3 cross Strait travel
Fall-only

Premier Province-wide; Max. 12 Teams
with 2nd XV entered into Division 1
16 matches, max. 3 cross Strait travel

Division 1 Province-wide, regionally pooled 16 to 18 matches, no cross Strait travel

Division 2 Mainland Teams only 16 to 18 matches

Division 3 Mainland Teams only 16 to 18 matches

12:15 Division Min. 4 Teams per region
Spring-only, declare in fall
8 to 10 matches
Flexible for 12 or 15-a-side play

Further Details on Changes

Division 1

Objective: regionally sustainable, competitively balanced club competition
Assumption: 12 Mainland-based Teams and 7 Island-based Teams would enter this competition with most Teams being the 2nd XV of a Premier Club.

Independent Regional Pools

1. Two pools – Mainland & Island
2. Mainland Teams complete 1.5 Rounds (17 matches)
3. Island Teams complete 3 Rounds (18 matches)
4. Qualify for playoffs out of regional pool

Outcome

ML: 17 matches
IS: 18 matches

Positives

• No cross-Strait travel for this Division (cost & time saver)
• Best accommodates fluctuations in # of Teams & allows Interior teams to move up into this league without Interior<->Island travel
• Best accommodates coupling for Mainland Teams with division 2 sides
• Best facilitates growth on Island

Drawbacks

• Premier Teams wouldn’t be coupled when travelling across the Strait which could leave the Clubs’ Div 1 Team short on front row, possibly leading to depowered scrums.

SOLUTION: reduce Premier to 22-player roster to utilise Law 3 (8), meaning only 5 front row players required and Law 3 (33) allowing tactically replaced players may return to play to replace an injured front row player.

It reduces the front row replacement requirement of the Premier sides from 3 trained & experienced players to 2.

• Island teams would meet each other 3 times

Premier League

Objective: Topflight amateur club rugby

Assumption: All current teams remain in competition, with 7 Mainland-based and 5 Island-based Teams

Unbalanced Schedule

1. All Teams meet once (11 matches)
2. Regionally pooled, Teams will meet 4 ‘local’ teams a second time (4 matches)
3. All Teams meet Pride (1 match)

Outcome

16 matches
Max. 3 cross-strait trips for all Teams
Min. 8 home games for all Teams

Positives

• Travel commitments are reduced to a maximum of 3 cross-Strait trips for all teams, with only one team (cost saver)
• 16 matches can be comfortably scheduled with late September start
• Much easier to schedule with Division 1 Teams when regionally pooled
• Based on unbalanced schedule, 8 teams would qualify for quarterfinals

Drawbacks

• Unbalanced schedule (not every team plays each other twice)

Division 2

Objective: regionally sustainable, competitively balanced club competition
Assumption: 12 teams enter competition which does not include the 3rds of any Premier Club

Mainland Competition
1. All teams meet once (11 matches)
2. Split into 2 pools of 6; teams meet once (5 matches)

Outcome
All teams 16 matches

Positives
• Balanced schedule
• Mirrors Division 1 structure to best schedule coupling where possible

Drawbacks
• If odd number of Clubs in both Division 1 and Division 2, won’t be able to have all Clubs decoupled the same number of times.

Division 3

No changes presented. The proposal remains to limit this league to Mainland-based Clubs. Exhibition matches for Island-based Clubs remains an option based on demand.

FAQ

Q: How do these changes address the decline in male player numbers?
A: With delaying the start and reducing the number of leagues requiring cross-Strait travel, this is intended to keep the sport accessible to recreational players who are unable to make huge time commitments. To attract high school graduates, the changes to McKechnie Cup is geared to retain talented, young players who are aspiring towards professional rugby, while the spring-only league is timed to reflect the school rugby calendar as well as leading out of age-grade u19 leagues run in the fall.

Q: Can Premier just be played in the spring?
A: In theory, yes. But in practice, the consequence of playing Premier only in the spring is that Teams would have to commit to have all cross-Strait travel scheduled in the Spring, meaning cross-Strait travel every 3rd week at best. The spring half also has few opportunities for make-up weekends, meaning any cancellations could possibly lead to not all matches being played for the league. It would also skew the competitive balance in Division 1 with Premier Clubs playing their 1st XV in this competition in the fall.

Q: Why can’t we have full coupling for Premier & Division 1?
A: We looked at full pairing between the two leagues but it created a huge travel commitment required from the Island Teams participating and travel couldn’t be fairly scheduled given that we have uneven and differing number of teams on either side of the Georgia Strait – we calculated that Island would have to complete 5 to 6 cross-Strait trips, while Mainland Teams would have 3 to 5 cross-Strait trips. It was felt this was an unsustainable and unfair amount of travel to expect from Clubs and players.

Q: Is late September the latest we can start playing?
A: In theory, we can delay it a little further. We’re proposing that the start of the season moves to the third Saturday after Labour Day believing this is as late as we’d want to go before putting the schedule at risk of weather causing cancellations and increasing the likelihood of not having all scheduled matches played.

Q: Can we run the season later into the summer & push the Finals back?
A: Many Clubs lose access to their municipal-controlled fields. The earliest we’re aware of Clubs having field access put at risk is mid-March so we are hemmed into our current season of September to April, with Club Finals being scheduled for the first Saturday of May.

Q: Who’s running the Academies in the McKechnie Cup?
A: This is yet to be determined. BC Rugby would seek partnerships to deliver these Academies, providing financial support and parameters on squad selection, team staff appointment, player travel and other resources.

Q: What happens with the Premier League Initiative?
A: The intention is for this to continue being offered to those Clubs participating in the Men’s Premier League.

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