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Column: Interesting Times For CRC, Varsity Cup

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Column: Interesting Times For CRC, Varsity Cup

Colleen McCloskey photo.

The news that the CRC and Varsity Cup may well be in a breakup with NBC is not especially surprising.

Strong personalities both at the network and in United World Sports seemed ripe for a little bit of conflict, and while United World Sports may not be a scorched earth organization, it certainly doesn't carry a water hose with it, either.

With Dan Lyle having left UWS for AEG, there certainly seemed the likelihood that Lyle might make a move to give AEG more of an in with NBC - that's pure speculation on our part, but speculation others have made, too. What is certain is that the Varsity Cup is at a crossroads. Not actually owned by United World Sports, the VC's TV rights were operated by UWS. It could well be that the Varsity Cup member teams will take their ball and go somewhere else.

Already there's some thought of changing the competition structure to have pools, instead of a series of knockout rounds, thus guaranteeing teams more than one game (and generally only about half the Varsity Cup teams play more than one game). 

Matt Sherman, Chairman of the Varsity Cup Competitions Committee, said earlier this year: “Our coaches and teams are very proud of what we’ve accomplished so far, and share and exciting vision for expansion opportunities and future growth with the competition. We’ve completed a critical analysis of the tournament to date, recognizing our strengths and identifying our areas for improvement. We’re extremely excited to reveal plans for the Varsity Cup 2.0, and what we believe will be the best year for the competition to date.”

That competition model has not been released, yet, but will be soon.

The CRC, meanwhile, is, in contrast to the Varsity Cup, a United World Sports-owned event. The CRC has solid attendance figures (reportedly), but it still it needs a broadcast partner, and one wonders if USA Rugby will find a way to swoop in and absorb the CRC into a bigger national championship event. Stranger things have happened. 

Read more about the NBC and United World Sports reported split here.

What is more likely is that United World Sports will look for a better coverage package and a better financial deal, while NBC looks to contentrate on international rugby.