Is an active USA Rugby membership — formerly known as CIPP — needed to play summer rugby 7s? For the majority of players in the US the short answer to the CIPP requirement question is: it’s probably not needed.
Before we continue, let’s make it very, very clear that everyone involved in any rugby match— from the referee to the players to the coaches — at any time of year should carry an active health insurance policy. There is simply no exception to this rule. Ever.
In contrast to health insurance, liability insurance protects the owner of a field, park, or stadium against damages/law suits. Providing a liability insurance certificate to the field/park/stadium owner is widely considered a prerequisite for holding a rugby match or tournament that is sanctioned by USA Rugby. This includes all league matches for example.
If everyone participating in a sanctioned match has a USA Rugby membership, then they are eligible for a free liability certificate that can be used to secure the venue. In this case, the CIPP requirement equates to venue access.
The CIPP requirement is rarely enforced at summer events
Liability insurance and thus CIPP is probably NOT required for the vast majority of the summer rugby events your team plans on attending. The reason for this is simple: most rugby 7s tournaments are not sanctioned by USA Rugby. For example, in 2017 only 5 sevens tournaments and in total 9 events were sanctioned during the peak month of sevens (July).
Events that lack sanctioning do not enjoy the benefits of USA Rugby membership — including liability insurance — even if all the participants have active USA Rugby memberships. So technically speaking, USA Rugby membership/CIPP is not needed for most events including the Lakefront 7s.
And while liability insurance may still be needed to secure a venue for a summer event, this can be purchased privately as needed.
Why are so few events sanctioned?
There are two primary reasons why most rugby sevens events are not sanctioned by USA Rugby:
- Most summer rugby events are informal, festival-style occasions where the teams often come together at the last-minute, sometimes for just one event. With USA Rugby membership costs at $55 annually, summer rugby participants are more likely to not have an active USA Rugby membership compared to those participating in a league match in the Fall (for example).
- The sanctioning process requires a list of registered teams weeks in advance (problematic for most events) and that rosters include only USA Rugby members.
Is it safe to play at events that have not been sanctioned?
There is currently no data to support the idea that the risk of injury is different between rugby events that have been sanctioned by USA Rugby versus those that have not. But as noted above, all participants at any rugby event should be carrying active health insurance to help in the treatment of any injuries.
The Lakefront 7s takes the following precautions to maintain a safe environment for athletes and other participants:
- Promoting a Code of Conduct for all participants.
- Arranging for the presence of athletic trainers and/or physical therapists to be on site thorough-out the event for pre-match preparation and post-match assessment.
- Arranging for the presence of an ambulance and certified emergency medical technicians to be on site thorough-out the event.
- Enforcing a site-wide red-card rule to minimize foul play (players receiving one red card or two yellow cards are ejected from the event).
- Purchasing private liability insurance.
- Informing all participants of the risks of playing rugby.
Signs that USA Rugby membership is required
Like the Lakefront 7s, most summer rugby events will not require membership with USA Rugby. However, there are some easy-to-spot signs that an event is sanctioned and requires CIPP/USA Rugby membership. These include:
- The sign-up form or participant waiver requests your CIPP/membership number.
- The event is a qualifier for the National Club Championship.
- The event is organized by USA Rugby itself.
- The event is listed on the sanctioned event list on the USA Rugby website.