Tue | Jan 19, 2021

Young Crocs axed from Rugby Union

Published:Saturday | August 1, 2020 | 12:18 AM

The Young Crocs Rugby Academy (YCRA) has been kicked out of the Jamaica Rugby Football Union (JRFU).

The decision follows a dispute with the Jerry Benzwick-led administration, which centres on intellectual property rights and a decision last year by the academy to operate independently.

YCRA, which looks to develop young, local players, was established in 2017 and registered as an organisation in September 2019. YCRA president Percival Rose said it was the idea of some under-19 players to start the club, who also came up with the name. The JRFU, however, contends that the name ‘Young Crocs’ is the intended name for the national under-19 team and that the word ‘Crocs’ is generally used to represent the national programme.

“The claim of the JRFU is that ‘Young Crocs’ is the name that they want to give to the Junior Under-19 team, however, they have not done it,” Rose said. “Also, there is a claim that the word ‘Crocs’ is a name that is used to represent JRFU. Intellectually, they have no claim to the word ‘Crocs’, hence we have no quarrel with them.”

Rose said that the JRFU is not the owner of the academy, but they having been having dialogues about the academy’s name.

“By law, the name is ours,” he said. “We would have had our logos from 2017, which we would have sent emails to the chairman (Benzwick) concerning any conflict of interest with our name.”

Rose said that despite these conversations, there has been a feud between the academy and the union since September.

“They decided that we are not a recognised organisation under the JRFU, and our players, while representing our organisation, cannot represent Jamaica,” he said.

This matter has caused the YCRA to not play in the Rugby Union League’s semi-finals and to be made ineligible to vote in the recent JRFU elections.

Rose said that the YCRA will not be challenging the JRFU about this matter because Young Crocs’ main purpose is to help players develop and assist them through aids such as scholarships.

The JRFU is, however, sticking by its decision to exclude YCRA from the union.

“Our board met and gave them a directive that they cannot be a part of the union unless they take the ‘Crocs’ out of their name,” Benzwick said. “‘Crocs’ is the name of the national team.”

Benzwick said that YCRA went against the arrangement they had with the union, which was to serve as a ‘feeder’ entity for the national programme.

He said that the JRFU would not challenge the academy for the right to the name but suggested that affected players join another team if they wish to compete in the union’s competitions.

However, a number of the Young Crocs players have opted to stay with the academy.

- Sharla Williams