Rugby deals with scheduling problems

Bob Reynolds, Staff Reporter

During the start of the scheduling process for the Eastern rugby team, which typically starts in the winter, Panthers’ head coach Frank Graziano tries to put a schedule together of 10 games, five at home and five on the road.

Graziano has to make sure that all of the games, especially road games will fit inside the budget, and has to make sure hotel rooms are available.

Typically the first game Graziano puts on his schedule, is against Quinnipiac – its head coach is Eastern rugby alumna Becky Carlson.

“That is just two or three emails to coach Carlson and that is done in winter,” Graziano said. “We are communicating in January and February.”

He said the biggest challenge he faces is being an independent program in the Midwest, which makes it difficult for Eastern because every team the Panthers play are in a league.

“They tend to get their league schedule very late, which creates more of a problem for us, because I need to do my scheduling early,” he said. “While teams will schedule games with us, they do not have their league schedule in their hand.”

In every year of the Panthers’ rugby program existence they have had 10 or more scheduled games on their schedule and that is because league administrators were much more accommodating to where the leagues in the Midwest only had about five games. But in the last three seasons, only eight games have been scheduled.

Now, because the leagues have grown to about nine to 10 teams, Graziano said it is becoming more difficult for teams to fit Eastern in their schedule.

This season, Graziano did not reach his 10-game schedule mark; by only having six games on the schedule originally, three on the road and three at home.

Since then, the schedule has changed almost completely. Before the start of the season, two games were canceled. One of which was a home game against Kentucky, which was canceled because Kentucky had a league game scheduled that day.

Also, the Panthers were scheduled to travel to Purdue this season, and that game was canceled because of paperwork issues.

The field the Boilermakers use is a multi-use field, and they did not get their paperwork in time that led to access not being granted to play that day.

Graziano had to then see if Purdue could come to Charleston to play at Lakeside Field, but that was denied because of more paperwork issues. Purdue was not allowed to travel.

Graziano has been dealing with cancelations since he began to coach at Eastern in 1999.

“For me it’s not as frustrating as it is for the student-athletes, and certainly for the parents, who have made plans to come watch their daughters play,” he said. “That is what becomes the frustrating part, but for me it is a part of the business.”

Graziano has since added two games to replace the cancelations this year and an additional game at the end of the season.

The Panthers will play at Lindenwood in St. Charles, M.O., on Sept. 16, and then four days later they will travel to Southern Illinois-Carbondale.

Graziano said he was pretty lucky to add those two games into Eastern’s schedule.

“There was an opening down at Southern on the 20th,” he said. “They had an opening on their schedule to where they said they were going to take the weekend off.”

The Panthers just recently added a game at Northern Illinois on Oct. 15., as well.

Bob Reynolds (@BobReynoldsDEN) can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]