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Last fall the Utah Warriors were accepted into the USA Rugby Super League despite not having played a single game. The reasons the Warriors were accepted were because the new club was backed financially and had a strong local player pool in a city not served by a major DI club (Provo is nearby).
This was the first time the Super League had accepted a member that was not an established DI club. Now other groups are looking to form Super League-specific clubs to be expansion members to the RSL.
We asked Super League Manager Sean Kelly whether this signifies a change in policy within the league and he said “no.”
He added that Super League is willing to entertain applications from any serious group. That could be a group that expects to draw players from several lower-division clubs to form what some might call a super club.
“We have an open door,” said Kelly. “We’re trying to help rugby in the community and if we get an application we will look at it.”
The league is still looking at the traditional avenue of successful DI clubs. Despite Kelly’s statements, it does seem to be a departure for the Super League to now at least tacitly acknowledge that connection to a DI club is irrelevant for a Super League club (this is only fair, since USA Rugby and other unions have been trying to separate the two for years).
Asked what misconceptions applicants have about the Super League, Kelly said many are unclear on the costs. It costs thousands of dollars to be a part of the Super League, because cost sharing for playoff teams has been seen to be a crucial part of the league’s survival.
So … who will we see next year? Weigh in on the comments. We think Glendale will put forward a strong case again, and perhaps the PR blowback from last fall will result in a different verdict. We might see Austin back in the mix, while Olympic Club is reportedly looking for something better than the NorCal DI … if not the Super League then joining Southern California.
And watch out for under-served states with lots of good players but no top DI club. Maybe states with lots of dairy cows??