July 28, 2015
NERFU Members and Fans,
Communication is something that I have always strived to do well as a NERFU Board member. I feel that clear, honest and continuous communication is the most effective way to inform the people we have been elected to represent and solicit their thoughts and feelings on the matters at hand.
I am writing to you all today so that everyone in the union can understand the current situation, what NERFU is doing about it and how it impacts the schedules for the 2015-2016 season.
- For the past 4 years USA Rugby has mandated changes within the structure of Division 1 Senior Menâs rugby. These changes has consequently forced our union to realign the structure and schedule of the divisions underneath it.
- Due to the repeated changes from USA Rugby I had instructed our Division Directors not to begin schedule-making until mid-Summer and/or the inevitable mandates from USA Rugby.
June 1 2015
- Mike Martin the Executive Director of Senior Club Rugby notified the Division Directors that we would be voting on schedules in our July board meeting. Many Directors complete rough drafts within days of this request being made.
June 15 â June 30 2015
- On June 15th, USA Rugby notified Brett Willis, the Senior Menâs D1 Director and Chair of the Northeast Competitions Committee (NCR3) that they wanted him to invite all of the northeast based teams in the American Rugby Premiership (ARP) back into Division 1. These teams are Old Blue, NYAC, the Boston Irish Wolfhounds and Boston Rugby.
- Subsequent to that invitation the NERFU Board held a series of calls to determine what impact this would have on the Senior Menâs divisional structure and the schedules that the division directors had begun to create; ultimately all of these are scrapped.
- Just as importantly, the board began to debate what steps we could take to protect itself in the future from the now annual loss and re-introduction of teams to the union.
- Terms were presented to the 4 ARP teams that would allow them back into D1. Negotiations went back and forth for a couple of weeks and USA Rugby and the Competitions Committee were part of this process. Ultimately it was agreed upon that clubs who wish to rejoin any national championship competition (Senior Menâs D1, D2 & D3 and Senior Womenâs D1 & D2) would have to appeal to the Northeast Competitive Region (NCR3). The NCR3 is a relatively new legislative body comprised of board members from both NERFU and Empire. It is this body that USA Rugby and the Competitions Committee rely upon for oversight of conflicts that arise amongst and between the two unions in our region; Empire and NERFU.
July 8th 2015
- With that agreement in place the NERFU board voted on new division structures that would leave Mystic River, Boston Rugby and Boston Irish Wolfhounds as the clubs in Senior Menâs D1. Three of the clubs that were in D1 last year were subsequently moved down into division 2; this movement forced us to restructure both D3 and D4.
- Division Directors drafted schedules and presented them to the NCR3 for approval.
July 22nd 2015
- New Haven Rugbyâs President contacts Brad Dufresne, the Senior Menâs D2 Director, to notify him that they wish to leave NERFU and join Empire GU.
- Empire had agreed to accept them only on the condition that the NERFU board approve their departure.
- The NRC3 has a call and approves the schedules barring the decision on New Haven leaving NERFU for Empire
July 23rd 2015 - Present
- Brad Dufresne, Brett Willis, Mike Martin and myself began communicating with both each other and members of USA Rugby, the Competitions Committee, Empire Rugby and New Haven rugby leadership to discuss the situation.
- A call between NERFU and New Haven took place that evening. On that call, myself and other NERFU board members tried to dissuade New Haven from leaving this year due to the impact their departure would have on our divisional structure and the approved schedules. At the end of that call, New Haven formally requested an emergency NERFU board meeting so that we could vote on their release.
- The NERFU Executive Board is set to tentatively meet this week for the sole purpose of voting on New Havenâs release.
- Once that vote is taken, all efforts and energies will be expensed to distribute the schedules by Friday July 31st 2015.
I want to stress that the three former D1 clubs, Hartford Men, Amoskeag Men and Portland Men have been nothing short of reasonable these past 2 years in dealing with all of this migration. I thank them and their leaders for the manner in which they have conducted themselves. Also both Boston Rugby and the Boston Irish Wolfhounds were INVITED back into our union. They did not request this invitation, they did not campaign for it and they did not know what impact it would have on our union when they accepted the invitation.
In closing I wish to thank everyone who has taken the time to read this email. I know it was a long one but I felt compelled to put as much information out there as possible to level-set the conversation. Iâm also keenly aware of how damaging and difficult this delay in releasing the schedule can be for both your clubs and your personal lives. It has always been my intent to ease the burdens placed on club administrators and allow them to focus on their teams and players. We havenât been able to do that here but I can say with all honesty that every impacted board member is working on this as best they can.