Alabama – 28th State Based Rugby Organization

By Kurt Oeler/ Gainline

Statewide rugby has emerged as one of America’s leading means of promoting growth, with Alabama last week becoming the country’s 28th youth and high school body.

The rapid spread of so-called state-based rugby organizations, up from a dozen in 2006, indicates the organizational model dovetails with the US school system. Most varsity sports are governed by statewide athletic conferences.

‘Currently we have three [local area unions] operating within the state, and having one body to direct state administrators to has been key to progressing within the educational system.  It is already starting to open doors for us at the high school level as well,’ Rugby Alabama head Brad Kilpatrick said in an email.

USARFU, mimicking Commonwealth standards, was founded by four territorial unions each comprising a number of local or sub-unions. These bodies often spilled across state lines, exacerbating the sporting community’s confusion as to why a sports organization would be known as a ‘union’, a term Americans typically reserve for labor associations.

In the past decade, coaches and administrators have abandoned the approach in favor of governing bodies that are more recognizable to school leaders, parks and recreation officials, and so on. USARFU, which has been actively encouraging the formation of SBROs, is simultaneously pushing college teams to incorporate into conferences and also hopes to revamp the system for senior clubs. The latter initiative has been moving particularly slowly.

Birmingham  is presently Alabama’s center of of non-contact rugby. Mobile looks more promising for establishing the cotton state’s first high school league. There Rugby Alabama is working with the Mobile Sports Authority as well as parochial schools, some of whom are encouraged by the proximity of established high school leagues in nearby Florida, with boasts a more established SBRO, and Louisiana.

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