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HS Programs In Colorado Form New League Separate From Rugby Colorado

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HS Programs In Colorado Form New League Separate From Rugby Colorado

Several of the top programs in Colorado have joined the new CIRA.

Eleven high school rugby programs in Colorado have formed the Colorado Interscholastic Rugby Association, separating themselves from Rugby Colorado and pursuing a new league model endorsed by USA Youth & High School Rugby, the sport's oversight organization working with USA Rugby.

USA Y&HS Rugby officially launched a new interscholastic affiliate membership growth initiative this week, unveiling it to members in a conference call earlier in the week. (Click on image at left to see an outline of that initiative.)

.Membership to CIRA will be open  to school-based K-12 rugby programs with a primary emphasis on high school and middle school program development and competition. CIRA member programs will be permitted to play external contests with any full or affiliate USAR/USA Y&HS/RC programs following CIRA guidelines. By law, high school sports teams in Colorado must accept students within their school district if the sport isn't offered at another school.

As a result, the single-school definition isn't quite right, and more accurate would be a school-based or school-district-based definition.

Most teams in Colorado have a homebase at a school, and as such can be part of the CIRA fairly easily. 

"As a Rugby community, Colorado sees the Interscholastic Leagues as the way to best serve our student-athletes and level the playing field with regards to other state-recognized school-based sports programs," said Regis Jesuit Head Rugby Coach Anthony Mattacchione. "Many like-minded coaches and community supporters have been discussing this for a few years now, and the timing seemed to fit into the plans of the USA Rugby Youth and High School interscholastic affiliate membership growth initiative. In recent years, Regis Jesuit Rugby has worked with and invited CHSAA Sports affiliates coaches from our mainstream athletic programs to attend practices and see what Rugby has to offer. There was a lot of mutual respect and support for building a school-based Rugby program that would benefit multisport athletes and allows for social and emotional development in our current situation.

"Becoming part of the Colorado Interscholastic Rugby Association (CIRA) not only builds a program’s presence on campus; but also fosters growth in other schools that have a student participating with club teams but are not currently representing their schools. Providing the best platform for students to represent and participate in school athletics is something that has been a goal for many club and school affiliated high school Rugby programs, and CIRA and the interscholastic affiliate membership initiative makes that a reality."

Summit Girls Rugby Head Coach Karl Barth, like Mattacchione, works at his high school and Barth also coaches other sports in the school.

"This an exciting and long discussed opportunity to develop interscholastic rugby in Colorado and Summit High School is looking forward to being a part of it," said Barth. "Having been in discussions over the years with other programs in the state, at the National level, and with CHSAA officials, I am pumped to see this come to fruition in Colorado. Our program has always championed the CHSAA model for our student-athletes and feel that it is essential component to growth and further mainstreaming of the sport in America. The interscholastic model is what schools and parents understand, provides longevity and leveled competition, grows the game, and gives student-athletes the chance to represent and foster spirit and pride in their institutions.

"We are proud to join CIRA, but  cannot look past the club game and the pioneers who are the shoulders we stand on. We look forward to this new chapter in a proud Colorado Rugby history. "

The minimum number of programs needed to become an interscholastic affiliate for USA Youth & High School Rugby is 10. There are 11 programs that, at present, have joined. More are expected.

Here is the list:

Girls:
Arapahoe High School
Denver East High School
Monarch High School
Regis Jesuit High School
Summit High School
William J Palmer High School

Boys:
Arapahoe High School
Monarch High School
Regis Jesuit High School
Summit High School
William J Palmer High School