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Ruling Finds No Wrongdoing by Lindenwood

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Ruling Finds No Wrongdoing by Lindenwood

Lindenwood University has had the men's rugby program's playoff ban removed by USA Rugby-appointed judicial officer James Russell.

Lindenwood was under complaint from DIA Rugby on three counts - submitting incomplete and misleading information related to player Tadgh Leader's waiver request (Leader had been paid to play in Ireland, and the waiver was requested because he was said to have been in college at the time); submitting an excessive number of waiver requests; committing acts of foul play during the 2015-16 season, especially during two games against Davenport.

The Lindenwood staff submitted a response to the charges, saying no staff knowingly provided false, misleading, or forged information, that they followed USA Rugby regulations in submitting waivers, and that the players who committed foul play last season had already been disciplined.

(According to sources, certain Lindenwood players were suspended from the team for the postseason, and others were put through anger management training.)

Russell chaired a hearing last week that included DIA Commissioner Kevin Battle, Lindenwood team manager Dan Ward, Lindenwood Coach James Harrison, and three members of the Lindenwood adminstrations - VP of Intercollegiate Athletics Brad Wachler, DIrector of Student Life Sports, Mike Elam, and Associate Athletic Director Thomas Wagganer.

Russell found that since Tadgh Leader's waiver was denied, and his appeal denied, no damage seemed to be created by any problematic documents. In addition, Russell found that Lindenwood staff didn't get Leaders' documents, but simply forwarded them to USA Rugby as they came in. Russell stated that Lindenwood staff were lax and perhaps sloppy, but did not intentionally submit false information.

Russell also found that while Lindenwood requests more waivers (many more) than the average DIA team, this is not, in itself, an act of wrongdoing.

And finally, Russell commended the University for punishing players guilty of foul play, and added that the rugby program did not encourage this sort of behavior - but he also said the team needs to be more vigilant about foul play in the future.

So Russell found no official wrongdoing on all three counts, but did ad some strict rules for Lindenwood pertaining to controlling foul play in the future.

Accordingly, Lindenwood is eligible for the 2016-17 playoffs, and in fact Leader helped Lindenwood win the Uni 7s this week.

USA Rugby can still appeal.