A New Era

We are writing to update you all on an important decision made by the MCRC at the conclusion of the spring season. For the past five years, Middlebury Men's Rugby has competed in the East Coast Rugby Conference (ECRC), a DIAA collegiate rugby conference founded in 2011. Playing in this conference against colleges that included Boston College, Northeastern, the University of Albany and others, we experienced great success in the ECRC, including two conference championships. Our time in DIAA was invaluable for the growth of Middlebury rugby. However, with the long-term strength of our club in mind, the MCRC has decided to make a change that will initiate yet another chapter in the history of this club.  Beginning in the fall of 2016, we will compete in the Division II New England College Rugby Conference (NECRC). Middlebury will join the University of Vermont, the University of Rhode Island, the University of New Hampshire and Norwich University in the NECRC. 

The topic of moving divisions was initially raised this winter in conversations between club leaders, coaches, and the newly formed MCRC Advisory Board. The board is a stable resource to help guide the club through important decisions and times of transition. At this point in time, current board members are: Michael McKenna P '10, Ben Wells (coach 2007-2015), Miguel Fernández '85 (faculty advisor), and Muchadei Zvoma '07 (coach 2008-2012). The hope is that the Advisory Board will be expanded in the near future to include representatives of each generation of the MCRC to engage in regular conversations to address immediate and long-term needs of the club. 

Although the student leaders, coaching staff, and the Advisory Board failed to reach a consensus regarding a potential change in competition, the topic was deemed important enough bring to the wider membership. A club-wide meeting was called at the end of the season where members voiced their opinions and heard a summation of the advisory board discussions. The meeting culminated in a blind vote the next day, where an overwhelming majority of club members voted to move divisions. Many players had a desire to play an entire season of competitive games, compete against rugby clubs with similar values, reduce the risk of injury and have an opportunity to enhance club unity. Moreover, the college rugby landscape has changed rapidly over recent years with the growth of sevens, increased scholarship availability and improved coaching. The results of the meeting were then relayed to the Advisory Board, who offered their full support for whichever direction the club chose to take. It was at the end of this lengthy and deliberate process that the MCRC decided to move to the NECRC Division II rugby conference beginning in the fall of 2016. 

We would like to emphasize that a change in competition will not affect the mission or spirit of the MCRC, which remains dedicated to excellence on and off the pitch. Furthermore, we believe this new direction will help to stabilize the trajectory of the club after a lengthy period of coaching instability and provide all members with a rewarding experience. The future of Middlebury rugby is bright thanks to the commitment of our players, coaches, and the continued support of the larger MCRC family. Thank you for your devotion to this club and if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to get in touch.