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 RugbyMag.com. \"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
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 the72 comments on this story
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.