SF State’s Rugby Club plays at a division 1-AA level and not only have to pay to play but lack a regular field to play their home games on.
“We practice on the West Campus Green, and we play our games in several different locations around the San Francisco Bay Area,” said Victor Mendez one of the team captains and the club’s safety officer. “Because we are a club sport on campus, San Francisco State does not have a field that we can play our games regularly so we have to reserve fields through the San Francisco Parks and Recreations Department that we fund ourselves.”
Rugby requires a bigger field than the ones on campus available for club sports.
The only place on campus that is large enough to play a game is Cox Stadium, but its reserved for school associated sports only, leaving the Rugby Club to find other places to play.
Without a home to play games, Mendez and his teammates will be forced to continue paying to play at different fields in either Daly City or San Francisco.
Rugby programs at the University of California, Los Angeles, University of Southern California, University of the Pacific, Sonoma State, University of California San Diego and Point Loma won’t compete at SF State. Rather, they will compete at Parks and Recreation Department approved spaces.
The team played their spring games at Gellert Park in Daly City, 5.1 miles away from campus and a 13-minute drive. Other possible fields for this semester include Lowell High School, 1.3 miles away and a six-minute drive, and Sheehan Field, 13 miles away and a 30-minute drive on Treasure Island.
The differences between club sports and school associated sports are minimal, but center around NCAA governance and funding.
“NCAA athletics programs have to abide by certain rules set forth by the NCAA, including but not limited to recruitment, scholarship allocation, eligibility, playing rules, Title IX, and more,” said Matt Davis, the director of athletics for Communications and Game Operations.
While club sports don’t have to abide by those rules, they also don’t get the perks of athletic scholarships and still have Rugby USA, which governs collegiate rugby and enforced their own eligibility requirements and rule enforcement.
“USA Rugby over the years has become more formalized over the years for the betterment of collegiate rugby,” said Phill Armstrong, the faculty advisor for the Rugby Club. “They follow the NCAA rules and regulations in many regards, for example, player eligibility is exactly the same as it is for the NCAA.”
To enforce those eligibility rules, Rugby USA needs to track each player, which is part of their fee and unless the Rugby Club gets grants or donations that full fee and other costs go back to the team members, according to Mendez.
“Funding for the club comes solely on player dues,” he said. “However we do sometimes ask for grants from SFSU campus recreation as well as take donations from alumni, but donations are minimal.”