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Men’s rugby club team shoots for priority registration

Former+Sacramento+State+men%27s+rugby+club+team+captain+Nick+Weeder+motivates+his+teammates+before+a+match.+The+club+team+is+currently+pushing+for+priority+registration.
Former Sacramento State men's rugby club team captain Nick Weeder motivates his teammates before a match. The club team is currently pushing for priority registration.

Former Sacramento State men's rugby club team captain Nick Weeder motivates his teammates before a match. The club team is currently pushing for priority registration.

Photo courtesy of Sac State Sport Clubs

Photo courtesy of Sac State Sport Clubs

Former Sacramento State men's rugby club team captain Nick Weeder motivates his teammates before a match. The club team is currently pushing for priority registration.

Sami Soto

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The Sacramento State men’s rugby team is looking to implement change in the club sports by getting priority registration.

Unlike intercollegiate athletic teams, intramural sports do not receive benefits such as priority registration. Sac State’s registration policies were recently revised in October of this year, but before that, it has remained the same since 1992.

“It’s been awhile since I’ve seen anything added to this list,” said Paul Edwards, director of the Student-Athlete Resource Center. “There’s not a cap on who can get it, but there is some very specific pieces to who gets it, especially in the third-party group.”

Currently, there are four levels of priority registration for Sac State students in which 12 groups fall under. Intercollegiate athletic teams receive third-level priority, as first and second priority are federally mandated.

There is a number of policies and regulations collegiate sports teams undergo. As stated in the Priority Registration Policy, collegiate athletic teams must offer academic support services, such as mandatory tutoring and GPA checks. This does not include the policies set forth by the NCAA.   

But much like collegiate sports, club sports are required to meet a GPA requirement of 2.0 as well as keep up with other standards set by Student Organizations & Leadership (SO&L).

However, unlike collegiate athletic teams, intramural sports programs do not have a coaching staff to organize and keep the team in line. This is done by players on the team who take on team officer roles. The teams are responsible for completing volunteer hours, paying semester fees, securing a coach and filling out “lots of paperwork,” Sac State rugby team President Cesar Luengas said.

As part of SO&L’s “pay-to-play” method, each team must pay certain fees. For the men’s rugby program, each member shells out $300 a semester to participate.

“$250 dollars goes to the club and $50 goes to USA Rugby,” Luengas said. “And that’s not counting gear. (SO&L) didn’t help us out last year, so we had to buy gear, including our own backpacks.”

Despite the setbacks and fees, players like Luengas stay loyal to the sport. In his four years at Sac State, he has seen several petitions for the team to receive priority registration or become an intercollegiate sport.

“Priority registration is definitely something we would love to see as part of our program,” said Josh Mandel-Sonner, sports club adviser for SO&L. “The unique structure of each sport club team creates challenges, but we are currently exploring ways to overcome these obstacles in hopes of submitting a proposal to the University.”

According to SO&L’s website, 87 percent of sports club members feel that playing on an intramural team has impacted their decision to stay at Sac State and continue working toward their degree.

The rugby club team wants to make it known how serious the sport is and that it deserves more recognition. Last year, the program transitioned to Division I and now practices four times a week year-round.

In previous years, the team has been ranked nationally and made the playoffs twice. At one point, they even advanced all the way to the finals for the Division I AA National Championship. Receiving priority would be a small step in the right direction, Luengas said.

“I just wish we had more power to show people that rugby’s also a sport,” Luengas said. “We’ve talked about petitioning, and they’ve tried it in the past. Maybe (school officials) will consider it, but most likely they won’t.”

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