USA Rugby Structure Series: Overview

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by Jason Graves

Many current and would-be rugby fans are confused over the structure of USA Rugby and how it all comes together. In my series of articles I will do my best to explain the structure, shed light on the competitions, and provide insight to the grassroots clubs within each region (#rugbynationUSA).

In the upcoming series of articles I will breakdown the inner structures of the two leagues, West and East, that comprise all eight Competitive Regions (CR) and how each Geographical Union (GU) along with the legacy Local Area (LAU), and Territorial Unions (TU) break out within the Competitive Regions beginning with this overview of the entire structure.  I’ll explain the differences between geographic, territorial, and local unions, how they all tie together, and the competitions they compete in which are all sanctioned by USA Rugby.

As mentioned above the Competition is broken into two leagues, West and East, and each league is divided regionally by Geographic Unions and Local Area Unions.  Unions are defined by population, club density, and geographical boundaries.  In most cases GU’s are comprised of multiple States while LAU’s are smaller geographical areas like individual States such as Arizona and Illinois or small populated centers like Chicago.  Local Area Unions can apply to become a GU but regardless of GU association LAU’s are included in the overall competition.  Territorial Unions are a legacy concept GU’s were intended to replace; currently the Midwest Rugby Union remains the last TU and comprises the majority of the remaining LAU’s.  Currently Alaska and Hawaii are independent LAU’s and don’t participate in the current structure.  The Pacific and American Premierships, the California Cup, the Men’s Premier Division (Rugby Utah), and the Rugby Gold Cup are all Division I (DI) premier competitions and the clubs that participate will be discussed, in-part, during the upcoming CR breakdowns.  Of those competitions only the American Rugby Premiership and the Rugby Gold Cup are currently sanctioned by USA Rugby.

The entire structure provides a competitive format with the ultimate goal of participating in the USA Rugby Club Championships played in the Spring.  The following information is a brief description of the overall structure.  I will follow this post with breakdown of each Competitive Region to include notable clubs, player highlights, schedules, premier competitions, and top venues.

WEST:

Pacific North CR: This competition is comprised of the Pacific Northwest Union (Washington, Oregon, and Idaho) and Northern California Union (northern portion of California and the majority of Nevada).  There are 3 Men’s divisions playing DI – DIII and 1 Women’s division competing in DII.

Pacific South CR: Comprised of the Southern California Union (southern California south of Santa Monica, and the very southern tip of Nevada including Las Vegas and south), along with the Arizona and Rio Grande (New Mexico) Local Area Unions.  The Pacific South has 3 Men’s divisions (DI – DIII) and 2 Women’s divisions (DI – DII)

Frontier CR: Made up of Rocky Mountain Union (Utah, Colorado, Wyoming) and the Mid-America Union (South Dakota, Nebraska, Missouri and western parts of Iowa).  The Frontier consists of 3 Men’s divisions (DII – DIV) and 1 Women’s DII division.

Red River CR: The Texas Union (Texas, Oklahoma, the majority of Arkansas, and Northern Louisiana) is the sole Union within this CR. There are 3 Men’s divisions (DI – DIII) and the Women’s division is comprised of both DI and DII clubs.

EAST:

Midwest CR: This competition is made up entirely of the Midwest TU Local Area Unions; Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Chicago Area, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio (which includes Kentucky), and the Allegheny (West Virginia and eastern Pennsylvania).  There are 4 Men’s divisions (DI – DIV) and 2 Women’s divisions (DI – DII) competing in the Midwest.

Southern CR: Comprised of the True South (Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, southern Louisiana, parts of eastern Arkansas and the Florida panhandle), Carolinas (North and South Carolina), and Florida GU’s along with the Georgia LAU.  The Southern CR has 2 Men’s divisions (DII – DIII) and 1 Women’s DII division competing.

Mid-Atlantic CR: Includes the Capital (Virginia, Maryland, and Washington D.C.) and Eastern Pennsylvania (eastern Pennsylvania, Delaware,  and southern New Jersey).  The Mid-Atlantic consists of 4 Men’s divisions (DI – DIV) and 3 Women’s divisions (DI – DIII).

Atlantic North CR: Made up of the Empire (New York, northern New Jersey, and western Connecticut) and New England (eastern Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Maine) GU’s.  There are 4 Men’s divisions (DI – DIV) and 3 Women’s divisions (DI – DIII) competing in the Atlantic North CR.

Up next: Pacific North CR

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