USA Rugby files for bankruptcy, changes structure of D1 teams


The Lindenwood women’s rugby team celebrates with the trophy after their national championship win.
Photo by USA Rugby.

Billy Woods, Reporter

Correction:  A previous version of this article referred to D1-A USA Rugby as part of the NCAA.  This is incorrect.  We apologize for the error. 

USA Rugby filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on March 31, which will change how the men’s and women’s rugby teams at Lindenwood are structured in their divisions.

The governing body for rugby in the U.S. said in a statement it could not operate anymore due to “insurmountable financial constraints.”

World Rugby, the global governing body, will step in to help USA Rugby reorganize. 

“We’re trying to take this opportunity to take a step back and see what things we can improve upon,” Kevin Battle, the commissioner for D1-A USA Rugby said. “There’s a silver lining to all of this.”

The silver lining is that the bankruptcy allows for restructure, with the hope of combining the men’s and women’s league under one umbrella. Before the men’s competed in D1A and the women’s competed in D1 Elite. The bankruptcy and restructuring of the league has long been thought of, but recent event cancellations caused by the coronavirus pandemic expedited the filing.

For Lindenwood, both men’s and women’s rugby teams will be mainly unimpacted throughout the process, as they’re one of the few independent teams who create their own schedule based on geographical position and competition.

“(We) still got a solid recruitment class coming in, and we’ll still have official matches and a championship this upcoming season,” women’s head coach Billy Nicholas said.

Joshua Macy, head coach for the men’s rugby team, expressed his concern for overall player development.

“The most notable impact for us would be a few less opportunities in the player development pathway,” Macy said.

Multiple Lindenwood players, both men’s and women’s, have competed before for USA Rugby’s elite clubs. The clubs are seen as a launching pad to compete in the Olympics and play professionally. 

In the past couple of years, three players from Lindenwood’s men’s team have accepted contracts with Major League Rugby, as the popularity of the sport grows in America.