USA Rugby has recently completed a review of Women’s Club Competitions and developed a proposal for the 2009-10 competitive cycle. The review committee included Dan Payne (USA Rugby Director of Competitions), Alex Williams (USAR Women’s High Performance Manager), Martha Daines (Competitions Committee), Jen Joyce (Board of Directors), Peter Steinberg (Keystone coach), and Mike Mahan (Board of Directors and Army coach).
The proposal has been reviewed and endorsed by both the Competitions Committee and the Rugby Committee and is currently under review by the Board of Directors. While some of the details of local competitions and playoff pathways are yet to be finalized, the proposal outlines a broad structure consisting of three tiers of competition: Women’s Premier League, Women’s Club Division 1 and Women’s Club Division 2. A description of the competition structure follows.
Women’s Premier League
The Women’s Premier League (WPL) will be comprised of eight of the top senior women’s clubs, formerly of Division 1. The initial eight clubs were selected by ranking the overall finish order from the last three National Championships and by each club’s interest in participating in the WPL.
The League Season will occur concurrently with the regular Women’s Club season, in the fall of each year. Pre-season will begin in mid to late August and the National Championship will be held in early to mid-November of each year.
The Competition Structure will involve two conferences of four teams with each team playing Home and Away against each of the other teams within their conference for a total of six league matches. USA Rugby will seed the teams (1-8) and allocate teams to conferences based on that seeding. USA Rugby will set the league schedule. The conferences for the 2009 League Season are shown in Fig.1.
Fig.1 Women’s Premier League Conferences for 2009
USA Rugby will administer the National Championship. The conclusion to the regular season will be a single National Championship weekend, with each team playing two matches over three days. Teams will be re-seeded based on the results of the regular season conference matches with the top four teams competing for the Cup (1 plays 4, 2 plays 3, winners play for Cup, losers for Plate) and the bottom four teams competing for the Bowl (5 plays 8, 6 plays 7, winners play for Bowl).
Promotion/relegation with the winners of the Division 1 National Championship will be explored at the end of the competitive cycle, to provide incentive for additional clubs to rise to the highest league.
Women’s Club Division 1
The Women’s Club Division 1 competition will be organized into three Competitive Regions (CR) based on USA Rugby Territorial Unions (TU).
· CR1 – WEST REGION – teams from two TUs – Pacific Coast and Southern California
· CR2 – CENTRAL REGION – teams from two TUs – West and Midwest
· CR3 – EAST REGION – teams from three TU’s – USA Rugby South, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast
TUs within the CR are responsible for organizing any CR league play and the structure of CR playoffs. USA Rugby is responsible for organizing the structure of the
National Championships. The initial structure will allow for the participation of twelve teams playing four rounds to determine a Div.1 Champion. Twelve seeds will be allocated by the USA Rugby Competitions Committee based on performance in the previous year’s LAU, TU, and USA Rugby competitions as well as historical performance.
Each CR will receive a minimum of two of the twelve seeds; the Competitions Committee will allocate the remaining six seeds. The championship bracket will use a standard 16 team structure, with the top four seeded teams receiving a bye in the first round. The Playoff weekend will include two rounds. The first round replaces the former Challenge Match series. The winners of Round 1 will play in the Quarter-finals with those winners advancing to the National Championship Semi-finals. The Semi-finals and Finals weekend will be scheduled at least two weeks after the Playoffs weekend. The Women’s Club Division 1 Championship structure for 2009 is shown in Fig.2.
Fig.2 Women’s Club Division 1 Championship Structure for 2009
Women’s Club Division 2
USA Rugby will officially endorse the 2009 Women’s Club Division 2 Invitational Championship and confirm that the event is on a defined path toward becoming an official USA Rugby Championship. USA Rugby’s Competition Committee will take over responsibility for seeding the bracket starting in 2009. The initial seeding of the eight teams will be based on the order of finish from the 2008 Women’s Club Division 2 Invitational Championship. Four TUs participated in the 2008 Invitational event: South, Midwest, Northeast, and Mid-Atlantic.
The remaining TU’s, West, Pacific Coast, and Southern California, will be granted a seed in the 2009 Championship bracket if the TU can show they have an organized Women’s Club Division 2 competition. The figure below shows the current TU seeding Women’s Club Division 2 Championship structure for 2009. The TU allocation and bracket seeding is tentative, pending entry by teams from West, Southern California, and Pacific Coast TU competitions.
Fig.3 Invitational Women’s Club Division 2 Championship Structure for 2009
(Specific seeds are tentative)
The 2009 Women’s Club Division 2 Invitational Championship will continue to be run by the Women’s D2 Committee (www.wdiirugby.org), with the exception of the seeding process, until all seven TUs have an organized D2 competition.