By Linda Wilkins
Assistant City Editor
Baylor’s men’s rugby club is in the Allied Rugby Conference, but it belonged to a different conference in 2011.
Last year, the Baylor rugby club was in the Southwest Rugby Conference.
However, Baylor remains on the Southwest schedule, and the league still considers Baylor a member.
Baylor, along with Texas and Sam Houston State, left the Southwest this offseason for the Allied Rugby Conference.
Texas’ and Sam Houston’s resignations from the Southwest were approved by the league, while Baylor’s was not.
“As a Division 1A Conference, Allied Rugby Conference is one of the best conferences in the nation,” Brookshire said.
Southwest’s argument for denying Baylor’s resignation comes from an agreement between the founding members of the conference to participate in the league for at least three years.
Sam Houston and Texas were allowed to leave the Southwest, free and clear, while the league fought to keep Baylor.
“The Allied Rugby Conference is one of the best,” Chang said.
SWC Members unanimously agreed to reject Baylor’s resignation earlier this summer. Baylor stated that due to their diminished membership numbers and [lack of competitiveness] in 2011-12, they wished to drop to Div II to re-build.
Baylor was a founding member of the Southwest last year, with the Bears’ coach, Clayton Jewett, serving as the conference commissioner, as he still does. But following a coaching change, which saw former Baylor coach Nick Lane replace Jewett, the Bears chose to leave the league.
“We wanted to leave the Southwest Conference. We just weren’t comfortable with the way it was being ran, so we looked at our options,” said Baylor head coach Nick Lane. “We had a meeting with the management of [the Allied Rugby Conference], and the players decided that that was the best option. They really liked how it was being ran, and the teams they were going to be playing against, so that’s what we went for.”
Lane, a former professional Australian rugby player, is the new head coach.
Lane and Josh Neff, the second new coach, volunteer their time.The team regularly practices Tuesday and Thursday from 4:30–6:30 p.m. at the Baylor rugby pitch.
During these times tryouts for the team are also occurring.
“Practices are open to any male student and every practice is a tryout,” Brookshire said. “They are a good time to learn to play rugby, but players with the most experience will play during games.”
Other schools in the Allied Rugby Conference are the University of Texas, Texas A&M, University of Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Sam Houston State.
Texas A&M and Texas Tech were denied access to the Southwest Rugby Conference
The Baylor rugby club’s next game is in Allied Rugby Conference 7’s tournament Oct. 6 in Norman, Okla.
Before then, Baylor will play former Baylor rugby club members in the annual Baylor Rugby Alumni Match on Sept. 1.
The game will take place at the Baylor rugby pitch behind the Baylor Science Building.
Houston sophomore Howard Chang, a Baylor rugby club officer, said both teams could be strong this year.
“We have a strong core of returning players, but I also know we lost a lot of strong players last year,” Chang said.
Those strong players will be on the Alumni team come Saturday.
Lufkin senior Brent Brookshire, president of the Baylor rugby club, said the upcoming game will be his third game against the alumni team.
He said he has not been on a team that has won against the alumni.
The game will start at 11 a.m. and consists of four sets of 15- to 20-minute periods.
The Baylor Rugby Association website states there are sponsorship opportunities for the game.
To learn more, visit www.baylorrugby.org.