women on Brigham Young University's club rugby team had every reason to

expect that they would make it to the quarterfinals of the national

college playoffs this weekend in Florida and California.


Cougars advanced that far in last year's tournament, losing to Penn

State, the eventual champion. This year, they are ranked sixth in

Division I by \"We have a good shot,\" said Kirsten Siebach, the team captain. \"We're certainly one of the top rugby teams in the country.\"


matter their performance, however, BYU will not advance past the Sweet

16 this weekend.Siebach said all 35 team members are practicing

Mormons, and because USA Rugby scheduled that round on Sunday, the team

has decided to forfeit if it wins its game Saturday against



obviously just very frustrated,\" said Siebach, a senior. \"We don't want

to put USA Rugby in a bad light, but at the same time we feel like

we've been treated wrongly.\"


Voss, a spokeswoman for USA Rugby, said scheduling the round for Sunday

was not intended as a slight to the BYU team. \"It's in no way a move to

disregard their religious beliefs,\" she said. \"We want them to be able

to compete. We want them to be here.\"


Richeimer, director of membership relations at USA Rugby, said an

oversight was responsible for the scheduling.In the past, the BYU

men's and women's club teams had been placed in pools that competed on

Fridays and Saturdays, Richeimer said, but BYU's schedule restrictions

were overlooked this year after the staff member who oversaw scheduling

left the organization.

\"No one caught it on the women's schedule,\" Richeimer said.


news came as a blow to the BYU women's team, which had raised $10,000

to attend the tournament.Siebach said the team was assured as recently

as March 11 that the schedule would be changed to Friday-Saturday from

Saturday-Sunday, so they bought nonrefundable plane tickets to Florida.


said the staff at USA Rugby contacted other teams to ask them to change

their plans, but by March, many had purchased their tickets and it was

logistically impossible.

BYU, a

private university owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day

Saints, does not allow its athletic teams to play on Sundays.The NCAA

requires that championship schedules be arranged to accommodate the

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religious beliefs of institutions, but club rugby does not fall under

its purview. Few universities sponsor varsity rugby teams.

Because the team is not formally affiliated with BYU, Siebach said, \"if we really wanted to, we could play on Sunday.\"

But \"because of our personal beliefs, we choose not to,\" she said.


Waqa, the women's coach, said his players were disappointed, especially

the seniors, who will be playing their final game Saturday. \"They will

be playing with a heavy heart, not being able to participate any

further,\" he said.