Reader Email – Umass Marine Is Not Being Allowed To Play Rugby Because His Elibility Expired While He Was Serving Two Tours In Afghanistan
One of my brother’s best friends and former teammates (and now close friend of mine) was recently banned from playing college rugby at UMass his senior year because he bravely served our country as a US Marine. He did two tours in Afghanistan and is now being punished for it because of some rule stating that he is doesn’t meet age requirements. This rule needs to be changed out of respect for our veterans. The link with the petition and a cool video of Martin in action is below. If you could share this with the world, it would be awesome.
A good friend and former teammate of mine, Ryan Martin, is a Marine Corps Veteran and rugby player for the University of Massachusetts Amherst. After graduating high school in 2006, Ryan served two tours in Afghanistan. He was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with a Combat Distinguishing Device for Valor in addition to a Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal. Upon returning home in 2012 he enrolled at UMass. Shortly after enrolling he decided to try out rugby.
Ryan is a senior now and recently received a letter from USA Rugby deeming him ineligible to play. The current rule states:
“Every student–athlete has seven years in which s/he may compete a maximum of five (5) years:
(I) The seven-year period for College Rugby Eligibility begins in the Academic Year immediately following high school graduation date or the graduation date of his or her class (as determined by the first year of high school enrollment) or based on the prescribed educational path in the student athletes country.
(II) There are no exemptions or exceptions to this seven-year window for college rugby eligibility.” As Ryan graduated in 2006, he is beyond the seven year eligibility window. We find this to be unacceptable, not only for Ryan, but for all those who were brave enough to enlist and serve our country. Rugby has been a coping method for my friend and other veterans in colleges across the country. Rugby in particular provides comraderie that many veterans seek in absence of their fellow soldiers. However, the inflexibility of this rule deems nearly all veterans ineligible shortly after enrolling in college.
This simply has to change. Not only out of respect for our veterans, but to help provide an outlet for those left with an emptiness that so many feel upon returning from duty. Please sign this petition and help put Ryan and many other brave young men and women back on the rugby pitch.
What is USA Rugby? Is that like the NCAA of Rugby? Well whatever the case may be obviously this guy needs to be allowed to play. I’m just going to assume it’s an oversight by USA Rugby and once this is brought to their attention they’ll clear him. Because there is just no way it’s possible to penalize a kid for serving our country. That goes against everything America and Rugby stand for. Unless he was like lifting non stop in Afghanistan and now they’re afraid he’ll truck roll itsy bitsy Freshman? Doesn’t matter though. Either way you got to let him play. I mean he only won the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with a Combat Distinguishing Device for Valor in addition to a Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal. Yeah I think that’s good enough to be allowed to play Rugby at the Zoo.