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A small group of pro-military-rugby people are petitioning USA Rugby to change the new college eligibility regulations, which currently hit military rugby players harder than anyone.
The new regulations, which were initially designed to try to prevent BYU from fielding players in their mid-20s, starts a college player's so-called clock from the day he or she graduates from high school. A rugby player has five years from that date to play his or her five years of college rugby.
A player can petition for an extra year if they miss school for various reasons, including military service or religious mission. Previously, BYU players who went on LDS mission were away for two years, but could still play for their full time as a student.
But this rule hits military players especially hard. A student who graduates from high school and enrolls in the military for three years, for example, and then enrolls in college, would only get one of those years back. Dartmouth College captain Michael Burbank was prevented from playing for his team this past season because he served multiple deployments as a US Marine before enrolling on college.
The petition is requesting that military veterans not be penalized for serving their country.
Writes Bryan Rippee, who is circulating the petition:
Student-veterans are filling up classrooms in colleges across the
nation, and are encouraged to participate in activities that will yield
meaningful relationships. Currently, USA Rugby's eligibility rules limit
student-veterans from participation by enforcing a strict five-year
eligibility window that nearly always renders student-veterans ineligible
to play. This prevents an emerging and important pool of rugby players from
enjoying the college experience that they have definitely earned.
To sign this petition go here.