Pilot program to extend veteran eligibility in college rugby

BOULDER, Colo. - USA Rugby announced Wednesday the Rugby Committee has approved amendments to the Collegiate Eligibility Regulations related to student-athletes and military service.

Beginning with the 2015-16 competitive season, a two-year pilot program will allow young men and women - enrolled full-time at a collegiate institution - whose seven-year eligibility window has been inhibited by military service to apply for a military exemption. The exemption provides for a "postponement" of a year of rugby-playing eligibility for every year of active military service that prevented college attendance.

"In recognition not only of the service these men and women have provided our country but the passion by which student-athletes have defended a veteran's right to play at a collegiate institution, I am pleased with the Rugby Committee's decision regarding this military exemption," USA Rugby Collegiate Director Rich Cortez said. "USA Rugby is a proud supporter of our armed forces and it's an exciting prospect to be able to show our support for them on the rugby pitch."

The eligibility clock for active-duty military servicepersons will still run for seven years to comply with the guidelines for non-serving student-athletes, but will begin with college enrollment or the petitioner turning 21 years of age.

All potential student-athletes seeking the military exemption must submit a request to the College Eligibility Committee, which will review each application and determine a ruling on a case-by-case basis.

During the two-year military exemption pilot program, data will be collected and reviewed for future discussions regarding the future of the exemption.

The full USA Rugby Collegiate Eligibility Regulations can be found on the USA Rugby College Eligibility page on USARugby.org.