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University of Colorado Team Hit With Sanctions

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University of Colorado Team Hit With Sanctions

The University of Colorado has been sanctioned by DIA Rugby fot fielding two unregistered players in a league game this fall.

Two players, Hayes Ward and Sam Tilley, played against New Mexico on September 21. Neither player was CIPP'd and neither was listed on the official matchday roster. Those players were later registered with USA Rugby in the following week. 

According to the citing documents, this was all discovered after New Mexico ran an audit on its games, and was then reported to DIA. Exacerbating the issue is that Colorado circumvented protocols in the Competition Management System and how games are reported; to get around the non-registering issue. In essence, the team didn't submit a matchday roster until later in the week. Had they submitted the roster through the correct channels, they would have known that Ward and Tilley were not registered with USA Rugby. (Sources say that the CMS was not operating correctly that week, which is why the posting of the roster didn't happen in time.)

(We struck out that one phrase in the preceding paragraph because it might imply intent. Not reporting the matchday roster on the match day resulted in the unregistered players taking the field, but that doesn't mean that was the intent.—AG) 

At the time of the game, Head Coach Chris Hanson was not with the team, as he was serving at Team Manager for the USA Men's National Team at the Rugby World Cup. Sean Kilfoyle was acting Head Coach at the time. Kilfoyle admitted the infraction and accepted responsibility for the misconduct.


Taking into account exacerbating and mitigating factors, DIA has handed down these sanctions:

  • A two-year playoff ban for the University of Colorado men's rugby team.
  • A two-match suspension for each of the assistant coaches involved. (These can be staggered so the team is not without a coach)
  • A one-year suspension from all coaching, managerial, and support positions in USA Rugby, including University of Colorado Rugby and the USA National Team, as well as any other team.
  • Forfeit of eligibility for Ward and Tilley for the remainder of the academic year.

Admissions Reduce Punishments

All of these punishments came with a chance to be reduced under specific circumstances:

  • The playoff ban can be reduced to one year if the team passes a probationary period which will include spot checks and tracking of the team's disciplinary record.
  • Hanson's suspension can be reduced to two games if he issues a personal statement acknowledging what happened and its seriousness, and the school's Director of Recreation Services issues a plan to improve compliance. (These statements have been written, and Hanson's will be published here on Goff Rugby Report after the weekend.)
  • Players Hayes Ward and Sam Tilley can have their eligibility back after the fall semester if they each submit a personal statement reflecting upon what happened, the seriousness of what happened or could have happened, and the importance of CIPP compliance. Those statements need to be sent to officers at the University of New Mexico. (These statements have been written and sent.)

A Cautionary Tale

This sanction, though, is a direct and unflinching message that fielding non-CIPP'd players will not be tolerated. While some might wonder what does it matter, it's worth noting the following:

1. Only a few years ago a player no CIPP'd with the related team participated in a B-side game for Arizona State. That player kicked a University of Arizona player in the face, injuring him badly. The offending player was arrested, the Arizona State program suspended, and the coach lost his position. Because that player was not properly CIPP'd, the entire game was non-compliant with USA Rugby's insurance carrier, and could have resulted in non-coverage for anyone associated with that game.

2. USA Rugby's liability insurance won't work if players aren't registered. One non-registered player can jeopardize the coverage of an entire game. In addition, fielding non-CIPP'd players, or even playing in a game against non-CIPP'd players, of, for that matter, refereeing a game of non-CIPP'd players, canopen you up to a lawsuit if something bad happens.