Last Updated: July 14, 2023
I. Club Eligibility
A. All clubs must be recognized by their college/university and in good standing with NCR. For purposes of this rule, for a club to be in good standing with, and therefore, eligible to participate in sanctioned competitions:
- A club must be registered with NCR for the current Academic Year, with all dues fully paid.
- A club must have a coach registered with NCR.
- Small College and Division II clubs must have a minimum number of 18 registered players for participation in the 15s competitions or, for Development Clubs, maintain a minimum roster of 10 registered players. As needed, clubs can request a waiver from this policy to enable emerging teams to participate with fewer players than required under an optimal roster size.
- Division I and I-AA clubs must have a minimum number of 30 registered players for participation in the 15s competition. (or request waiver)
- A club that only participates in the 7s championship pathway must register at least 10 players.
- Each student-athlete on the Roster must be a registered member of NCR, in good standing with NCR, must meet their school’s requirements for participation in the rugby club.
- Each club must be in good standing with its college / university and conference.
B. Each club may carry an unlimited number of student-athletes on its Roster.
C. All rugby clubs are subject to NCR review before eligibility is granted.
D. Clubs participating in the Small College division must not exceed an enrollment limit of 3,500 full-time male students for participation in the men’s league or 3,500 full-time female students for participation in the women’s league.
- Given the annual fluctuation in enrollment levels, schools whose enrollment increases above 3,500 female or male students, but does not exceed five percent (5%) over the limit (3,675 students), can maintain eligibility for the Small College division. If a school’s enrollment remains within the five percent (5%) window (3,500 - 3,675 male or female students) for two consecutive years, they must apply for a waiver in order to remain in the Small College Division. Any school exceeding the 3,675 female or male limits will no longer be eligible for the Small College Division and must compete at a Division II or Division I level. (Data Source for Enrollment Full-Time Undergraduate Enrollment by Gender: http://ope.ed.gov/athletics/)
- For schools with campuses in multiple locations which directly enroll students, the male and female student limits are based on the total full-time enrollment for all locations that allow its students to participate on the rugby club.
- Students attending nearby schools that do not have a rugby club may be eligible for participation in the NCR Playoffs and all matches leading to the Playoffs. The combined full-time undergraduate enrollment of the schools must not exceed 3,500 male or female students. For a “nearby” school to be eligible, the club must provide:
a) Google maps mileage chart.
b) Documentation that shows all credits earned are interchangeable between institutions.
c) Letter of Liability Acceptance on letterhead, from the Risk Manager of the host team’s university.
d) Official proof of substantial cross-fertilization between the participating institutions’ students’ services.
e) Undergraduate university male and female numbers for the host team and the “nearby” school.
E. To be eligible for men’s Division II, clubs must not exceed an enrollment limit of 10,000 full-time male students. If a school’s enrollment exceeds 10,000 male students, they must participate in Division I. This policy does not apply to the women’s competition.
- Given the annual fluctuation in enrollment levels, schools whose enrollment increases above 10,000 male students, but does not exceed five percent (5%) over the limit (10,500), can maintain eligibility for Division II. If a school’s enrollment remains within the five percent (5%) window (10,000 - 10,500) for two consecutive years, they must apply for a waiver in order to remain in Division II. (Data Source for Enrollment Full-Time Undergraduate Enrollment by Gender: http://ope.ed.gov/athletics/)
- For schools with campuses in multiple locations which directly enroll students, the male and student limit is based on the total full-time enrollment for all locations that allow its students to participate on the rugby club.
F. The following limitations apply for graduate student participation.
- No more than two postgraduate players are permitted on a 23-player 15s match roster.
- No more than one postgraduate player is permitted on a 12-player 7s match roster.
- A club may apply for a graduate student roster limit exemption prior to their participation in a qualifying match if their combined undergraduate and graduate student full-time enrollment can be proven to be within the enrollment limit for either a Small College or Division II program. In order to be eligible for this waiver, the graduate students must have attended the same undergraduate school and meet all eligibility requirements for graduate student participation.
G. Additional sides from larger schools such as “B” or “C” sides may participate in a local Conference Small College league, but they cannot advance to the Small College playoffs.
H. NCR supports the formation of a hybrid league that mixes clubs from different divisions (Division I, Division II, and Small College). This enables Conferences to create a competitive league that is acceptable to their member clubs.
J. Clubs may not be eligible for more than one national championship playoff pathway in a single competitive year.
K. Consortium agreements between institutions will be recognized provided the campuses are in reasonable geographic proximity and there is a formal academic connection between the universities. The student must meet NCR’s nine credit hour minimum requirement based on the total combined credit hours between the two institutions within the consortium. This status must be verified by the Registrar on the Player Eligibility Verification (PEV) Form prior to the student participating in any Qualifying Match for the school. In addition, each school shall submit a letter signed by the authorized university official giving permission and identifying which school is responsible for the player.
- No more than two (2) consortium student-athletes who are not enrolled at the home institution (the college fielding the rugby club) are permitted on a 23-player 15s match roster allowed by The Laws of the Game.
- No more than one (1) consortium student-athlete who is not enrolled at the home institution (the college fielding the rugby club) is permitted on a 7s match roster.
- During regular season play, consortium students may be interchanged from match to match. During all championship qualifying matches, consortium students may NOT be interchanged, unless necessary due to injury or ineligibility.
II. Player Eligibility
A. In order to participate in any Qualifying Match and post-season playoffs, student-athletes must meet certain eligibility regulations or, where applicable, apply for an eligibility waiver.
- Student-athletes must be a registered member of NCR and in good standing with NCR and their rugby conference.
- Student-athletes must play with the club representing the school in which they are enrolled.
- Student-athletes must be enrolled as an undergraduate student seeking their undergraduate degree and meet all requirements as determined by their school’s Registrar’s Office or equivalent. The student-athlete must be enrolled in a minimum of nine (9) credits (or the college’s equivalent) to maintain NCR eligibility.
- Student-athletes’ participation must fall within the seven (7) year eligibility period. The seven-year eligibility period begins in the Academic Year immediately following the high school graduation date or the graduation date of their class (as determined by the first year of high school enrollment). Any college courses that are taken during high school do not start the eligibility clock.
- Student-athletes may only compete for a college or university for a maximum of five (5) years of rugby based on NCR membership enrollment history. Playing rugby one semester or term during an Academic Year counts as an entire year.
- U.S. student-athletes must be 24 years of age or younger as of September 1 of the start of the Academic Year (or apply for waiver).
- International student-athletes must be 22 years of age or younger as of September 1 of the start of the Academic Year (or apply for waiver).
- A student-athlete must not have played in a Qualifying Match for any other collegiate club or senior club at any level during the current Academic Year. Transfer students may appeal for a waiver.
- Student-athletes must meet and remain in compliance with all applicable amateur standards as set forth in the Amateurism Policy.
- Transgender student-athletes must meet and remain in compliance with all applicable standards as set forth by the Transgender Policy.
B. Student athletes may apply for a waiver to participate in any Qualifying Match and post-season playoffs in certain situations listed below.
- Student-athletes within their final Academic Term who require less than nine (9) credits (or equivalent) to graduate can still maintain NCR eligibility. The student-athletes must provide a letter from an authorized school official confirming such status with permission to participate on the rugby club.
- A student-athlete registered for less than nine (9) credits (or equivalent) while pursuing an internship, working on a political campaign, or some other special educational opportunity can still maintain NCR eligibility. The student-athlete must provide a letter from an authorized school official confirming such status with permission to participate on the rugby club.
- Student-athletes enrolled in full-time post-graduate studies (graduate school or pursuance of an additional bachelor’s degree) and are within seven (7) years from the date the student-athlete graduated high school may maintain eligibility if they have yet to compete in five (5) years of rugby.
- Student-athletes who are unable to compete for five years within the seven year eligibility period due to participation with church, government or military service that prevented the individual’s ability to compete for five years within the seven-year eligibility period since high school graduation.
- Student-athletes attending a nearby Small College or university that does not have a rugby club may be eligible to participate in a neighboring Small College team if both schools provide written documentation providing permission to play. The schools must be within a reasonable geographic proximity and the total enrollment of the combined colleges must not exceed the enrollment limit for Small College participation. Each school shall submit a letter signed by an authorized university official giving permission and identifying which school has legal responsibility for the player. (Note: The nearby college eligibility is distinct from the consortium policy.)
- Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, student-athletes who attended college during the Academic Year 2020-2021 are eligible to compete in five (5) years of collegiate rugby within an eight (8) year eligibility period that begins when the student athlete graduates from high school. Student-athletes must have been enrolled in at least nine (9) credits for one semester during the Academic Year 2020-2021. Any rugby played during the Academic Year 2020-2021 does not count towards the student-athletes five-year competition limitation.
- A student-athlete who is currently enrolled at an NCR member school or who has graduated no sooner than December of the current Academic Year, is eligible for selection to an NCR All-Star or Select Side team.
III. Coach Eligibility
A. Prior to engaging in any team training or other activities, coaches must meet certain eligibility regulations.
1. Coaches must be a registered member of NCR and in good standing with NCR and their rugby conference.
2. Coaches must be at least Level 1 certified or higher. To meet L1 certification, coaches must complete the free World Rugby Courses below and then submit their certification to firstname.lastname@example.org.
c) Rugby Ready
3. Coaches are required to complete a valid Background Check with NCSI, which is accessible through their My SportsEngine account.
4. Coaches are required to complete SafeSport Training. Coaches may be required to complete a full training or a refresher course, both of which are accessible through their My SportsEngine account.
IV. Policy Implementation
- NCR is responsible for establishing and interpreting the NCR Eligibility Policy, which applies to all qualifying matches. Each Conference/Union, member, club, coach and student-athlete is deemed to have full knowledge of the content of this Policy. EachConference/Union and member club must ensure that it complies with this policy and must further ensure that it takes appropriate action to inform all of its members of the terms of this Policy and the obligation to comply with the same. All clubs and coaches are expected to understand and implement this Policy as well as ensure that they comply with the Spirit of the Rules and take appropriate action to ensure that each of its members understands the obligation to comply.
- It is the responsibility of the governing Conference/Union to ensure student-athlete compliance of this policy for matches directly under their control. Compliance verification should be performed in both semesters or before the Spring quarter and after the Winter quarter of the Academic Year (starting in August or September). This Policy shall be used in conjunction with the Player Eligibility Verification (PEV) Form.
- Eligibility at all NCR Playoff Matches will be verified for compliance by an Appointed Representative and shall be done in accordance with NCR’s Post-Season Match Rules.
- A Conference/Union may not impose any more stringent regulations than identified by this Policy, unless it can demonstrate such changes are in the best interests of their members, who concur with the changes, and such changes will not adversely affect NCR’s goals for the growth and development of college rugby. Documentation must be submitted to NCR accordingly for review and approval in a timely manner.
- NCR reserves the right to take disciplinary action, as it deems appropriate, which may include penalties against the student-athlete, their club, and the governing Conference/Union for any violation of its Eligibility Policies.
- Compliance with this Policy at all Qualifying Matches played under the jurisdiction of the Conference/Union shall be enforced by said Conference/Union with the use of the NCR “Player Eligibility Verification (PEV) Form” and any other related Conference/Union documents. The Conference/Union must establish a “Game Day Protocol” to ensure compliance accordingly.
- The PEV Form must be completed by the school which the student-athlete is attending. If the student-athlete is attending a “nearby” school in accordance with the Small College Rugby Division policies and that school is unable to complete the PEV Form, please contact the NCR Eligibility Director for direction.
C. Appeals Process
- Any decision made or taken by the NCR Eligibility Director shall become final and binding unless any person/club affected has submitted an appeal to NCR. Such appeal must be made within seven (7) days of the affected person/club receiving notification of the Eligibility Decision; and no less than five (5) business days prior to the event for which eligibility is being requested. Appeals of any Eligibility Decision will not be heard on the day of the Qualifying Match for which eligibility is being requested or less than five (5) business days of such Qualifying Match.
- The Appeal must include the initial written ruling by the NCR Eligibility Director; all relevant documents and written communication regarding the decision; a clear and concise statement of the reasons why the appellant believes the initial determination is incorrect; and a citation of any relevant rules or policies that support reversing the initial determination.
- Eligibility Waivers of the above requirements will be considered as part of this Policy’s waiver process and must be submitted and approved prior to any participation in a Qualifying Match.
- Each request for waiver from this Eligibility Policy must be in writing and supported by required documentation, including a personal statement from the player or club. Student-athlete eligibility should be thoroughly investigated by the club. It is strongly recommended that all waivers are requested prior to the beginning of each season.
- NCR requires up to seven (7) business days from the date of receipt of all required documentation to respond to the applicant.
- The student-athlete must apply to NCR each Academic Year to request a waiver when necessary. Waivers are only approved one Academic Year at a time, are not automatically awarded, nor are they automatically renewed.
- Waivers will not be considered for time lost due to injury.
- The Eligibility Waiver Request Form must include a thorough explanation of the individual’s circumstances and include all required documentation
a) Proof of date(s) of enrollment in college or university.
b) DD-214 showing specific dates of military service and any deployments.
c) Any and all applicable documentation of official church service, including a letter from church officials.ilitary service and any deployments.
d) Any and all other documentation relevant to the specific waiver request.
e) Any and all applicable medical documentation to verify a pregnancy or a severe medical condition that prevented an individual’s enrollment in the college or university for at least one full Academic Year.
E. Student-Athlete Documentation
- To be eligible for Qualifying Matches, student-athletes may be required to submit documentation to prove their identity, citizenship status, college enrollment, NCR Registration and waiver status.
- The documentation should be maintained at all times from the start of the competitive season by a responsible club official. This documentation should be made available upon demand and/or prior to participation in any Qualifying Match and NCR Championship Event.
- Acceptable documentation includes:
a) Proof of Identification. Current government-issued photo identification and/or official school-issued ID for students.
b) Proof of U.S. Citizenship can be verified through the items below. Documentation in reference to the pursuit of permanent or conditional resident status in order to facilitate a player’s participation in the Competition is NOT sufficient.
(1) Original or copy of U.S. birth certificate along with a government-issued photo identification document. OR,
(2) Original or copy of photo page of U.S. passport. OR,
(3) Original or copy of Naturalization Certificate. OR,
(4) Original or copy of Lawful Permanent Resident (Green Card) or Conditional Permanent Resident. OR,
(5) Original or copy of Native American Tribal Identification Card.
c) Proof of any citizenship other than the U.S. can be verified with a foreign passport.
d) Proof of high school enrollment can be confirmed with a valid diploma or letter from the high school verifying a player’s graduation date.
e) Proof of collegiate enrollment and supporting documentation may include:
(1) Player Eligibility Verification (PEV) signed and sealed by collegiate registrar, and appropriately dated.
(2) Letter from registrar verifying status as a graduating senior.
(3) Official transcripts showing dates of initial enrollment and transfer status.
f) Proof of current member registration can be verified with a printout from NCR website showing valid registration dates.
g) Proof of official waiver from NCR can be verified with a waiver letter signed by the NCR National Office staff, delivered by electronic mail, displaying playername, club, official dates of eligibility, and the specific regulation waived.
V. Transgender Policy
A. National Collegiate Rugby promotes an atmosphere of respect for and sensitivity to the dignity of every person. It is policy to refrain from discrimination with respect to its governance policies, educational programs, activities and employment policies, including on the basis of age, color, disability, gender, national origin, race, religion, creed, or sexual orientation.
B. Consistent with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, National Collegiate Rugby does not discriminate against students, faculty or staff based on sex in any of its programs or activities, including but not limited to competition, educational programs, employment, and membership. These policies are influenced by best practices regarding anti-discrimination which are encapsulated in the NCR Corporate Ethics Policy.
C. Policy for Trans-Athlete inclusion in Qualifying Matches and NCR Championships:
1. A female-to-male (“FTM”) player can be a part of either team, so long as the player is not taking testosterone. If taking testosterone, then the player may be a part of the male team only.
2. Because testosterone is a banned substance, FTM players must provide evidence of the medical prescription in order to get a medical exception from the NCR Chief Compliance Officer.
3. A female-to-male (“FTM”) player can be a part of either team, so long as the player is not taking testosterone. If taking testosterone, then the player may be a part of the male team only.
a) MTF players must provide the following two documents to email@example.com prior to Qualifying Matches or NCR championships.
(1) Evidence of a medical prescription and
(2) That they have completed one year of hormone treatment related to gender transition before competing on a women’s team.
b) Otherwise, a player may play with the team that correlates to the sex the player was assigned at birth.
D. All medical information will be protected under HIPAA and any other applicable privacy laws as determined by the NCR Compliance Committee.
E. The legal and compliance issues surrounding the rights and understanding of the experience of transgendered athletes are constantly changing, but the commitment of NCR to non-discrimination and inclusion will not.
F. Please direct any inquiries regarding the NCR Transgender Policy and/or documentation supporting transgender athletes to firstname.lastname@example.org.
VI. Amateur Policy
A. A student who represents a school in interscholastic rugby shall be an Amateur Athlete. An Amateur Athlete is one who participates in rugby for the purpose of deriving the physical, mental and social benefits organized sports competition has to offer and not for any present or future pecuniary or commercial gains.
B. The following activities do not jeopardize the athlete’s amateur status:
- Athletic or academic scholarships, work-study grants, or stipends for student athletes who attend an institution for the purpose of participation with the rugby club or team in addition to their academic requirements;
- Receiving school-sponsored membership/participation fees;
- Allowable travel, meals and lodging expenses as long as they are provided to all club members;
- Accepting a fee for instructing, supervising or officiating sport programs (youth, collegiate, senior or otherwise);
- Receiving an award, playing equipment or prize of monetary value not exceeding the award amount authorized by National College Rugby;
- Receiving all benefits and awards provided to members of an Olympic team;
- Participating on a Premier Rugby 7s team and receiving a nominal payment to cover travel-related expenses, meals and lodging. NCR will regularly review and agree the acceptable payment limits with Premier Rugby 7s.
- Participating in member school, charitable or educational programs;
- Participating as a foreign academy development contract before 18 years of age (in the U18 division) or younger divisions.
C. Subject to NCR review an athlete may forfeit their amateur status if the following happens:
- Competing for money or other remuneration;
- Receiving preferential benefits or treatment because of the athlete’s reputation, skill or potential as a professional athlete;
- Signing a contract or making a commitment to play professional rugby;
- The faux signing of a contract or making an oral or written commitment to play professional rugby;
- Participating as a foreign academy development contract player at 18 years old or older. Players falling in this category must apply for an eligibility waiver.
D. A club may have only one current professional practice rugby player on their match day roster, unless a waiver is obtained in advance. All teams that acquire or have on their roster a current professional practice rugby player that meets all eligibility requirements must notify NCR of said player in advance of the competitive season. For purposes of this rule a “current professional practice rugby player” is a student-athlete that retains his/her collegiate eligibility due to the fact they are only practicing with a professional club and not participating in any matches for the professional club. Participation in one exhibition or regular season match qualifies as being a professional rugby player.
E. A foreign or domestic academy development player may not receive compensation but may receive actual and necessary living or travel expenses from the academy provided the player is enrolled full-time in an accredited educational institution and is “in good standing” with the institution during the entire period for which the player is involved. The player will not be eligible in any case if the enrollment with a USA college or university occurs in the final quarter/semester of the player’s potential NCR collegiate eligibility.
VII. Glossary of Terms
- Academic Year. An annual period during which a student attends a college or university beginning with the first day of the fall semester or quarter and ending at the conclusion of the spring semester or quarter.
- Academic Term. An academic session that is a division of the Academic Year. This includes a quarter (Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer) and a semester (Fall, Spring, Summer).
- Academy. Formal arrangement between a Professional Rugby Club and targeted players who have demonstrated the potential to be a professional rugby player.
- Amateur Athlete. An individual who participates in a sport for the purpose of deriving the physical, mental and social benefits organized sports competition has to offer and not for any present or future pecuniary or commercial gains.
- Appeal. A formal, written request, made by the affected player or club to NCR, for relief from a specified determination of NCR or one of its subordinate committees or an Approved Governing Body in interpreting or applying these Policies.
- Appointed Representative. An NCR staff member or designated NCR representative who is responsible for managing eligibility reviews and competition-related matters during a playoff or championship match.
- Club. A group, having registered under a specific Club Registration number, which may field multiple Teams or Sides, registered to NCR in accordance with the Policies contained herein.
- Division. Competitive level of Competitions with the “Higher” Division intended for the more experienced, skilled and continuing players and the “Lower” Division intended for developmental, emerging or less experienced players. This definition applies to Divisions I, II and III in which there is an NCR Championship Event.
- Eligibility Decision. Written determination from NCR in response to a formal, written request for a Waiver submitted by the affected student-athlete or club.
- Event Weekend. The time period covering a single NCR Championship Event, i.e. from team check-in through the final whistle in any given category, division or gender, in which the full Roster of up to 28 players is set and locked for the duration of the Event Weekend.
- Match. A game in which two clubs compete against each other.
- Match Roster. List of eligible players for a match.
- NCR Championship Event. Designates those events under the authority and jurisdiction of NCR.
- Nearby School. A school within a reasonable geographic distance to another school at the discretion of the eligibility team.
- Play. Play is defined as actually stepping onto the field either as a starter, reserve, or blood substitution for any length of time. A player can be named on the roster for a match and not actually “play” in the match.
- Player. A player is defined as any individual who trains with a club.
- Post-Season Playoffs. All matches that follow regular season and conference championship play, and are part of NCR’s national championship pathway.
- Qualifying Match. Any match in which the result is used to determine official competition standings and/or determines qualification for NCR playoffs, national championships and all star competitions.
- Roster. List of players competing in a specified Division for an entire Event Weekend (see also Match Roster and Event Weekend). The full 28 person Roster for the Event Weekend must be confirmed by the date and time announced by NCR.
- Spirit of the Rules (World Rugby Charter). The responsibility for ensuring that rugby is played both to the letter of the rules and within the intent of the laws lies with all participants including the coaches, captains, players and referees.
- Spring Academic Term. The academic term as defined by the University Registrar as spring – this may be a spring quarter or spring semester.
- Team or Side. A subgroup of a Club that represents varying levels of Competition for any given match or set of matches – often designated as A-side, B-side or C-side, or “upper” or “lower” side, or first-side and second-side, with A-side, “upper” and “first-side” being the highest competitive level of players on that Club.
- Transfer. Official process of changing club affiliation. Subject to all rules of NCR Eligibility contained herein. Waivers may be needed for transfers during the Competitive Season.
- University Consortium. Two or more schools, in reasonable geographic proximity, that are integrated academically and share resources under an existing formal agreement. There must be a formal academic connection between the universities by which students are considered to be enrolled on a full-time basis by the home institution (the college fielding a rugby club).
- University – Multiple Campuses. A single university with different geographic locations, oftentimes a single building, remote from the main campus for the convenience of its students. For NCR purposes this is considered one university and all students would be eligible to play for the rugby club.
- Waiver. Relief from the specified requirement(s) of these policies, granted in writing by NCR in response to a formal, written request, made by the affected student-athlete or club.
- Winter Quarter. For schools that utilize a quarter system, the winter quarter typically concludes in March or April of any given year.