Everything you need to know about the KERA league
There is a rich talent of rugby throughout Asia and an abundant number of rugby tournaments and trophies up for grabs. These all hold a special place for the rugby players competing for them, no matter the level. One of the core goals of RugbyAsia247 is to shed some light on these rugby gems. We take a look at the very popular KERA league in South Korea.
Korean Expatriate Rugby Association (KERA) history
Joe Day M.B.E (1936 – 2017)
The Korean Expatriate Rugby Association (KERA) league was formed in 2011 with the goal of giving social rugby players in Korea a regular competition. The association and league itself was primarily the brainchild of a legendary figure in Korean expat, and sporting circles, Joe Day M.B.E. The cup the teams compete for is named after Joe Day.
The total number of teams in the league has fluctuated over the years, with the league having 8 teams at its peak. Over time, teams have come and gone. This is based largely on the ebb and flow of the E.S.L teaching, oil and gas, and shipping industries employees who form the core of the Korean expat teams.
Formerly strong clubs – including past Joe Day Cup winners the Cheongju-Daejeon Knights and Daegu Dragons, KERA knockout shield winners the Jeonnam Aliens, and the always competitive (and thirsty!) Geoje Shrimpgoats – have sadly folded.
The KERA league generally runs from March through to November with a break in the middle of the year to avoid the summer heat and the rainy season. With the Korean Rugby Union‘s competitions being played in week-long tournament formats, the KERA league is one of the few (perhaps the only) annual rugby competition that’s played over the course of a few months in South Korea.
What is the format for the KERA league?
KERA is a 10’s rugby competition. There are 7 match days spaced throughout the year with the teams meeting at the designated host’s pitch to play against each other. The games are played in a round robin format before all rugby teams retire to the bar for the all-important 3rd half.
Which rugby teams will participate in KERA 2019?
Currently, there are only four teams in the KERA league.
- Stars and Stripes (a team of U.S. military servicemen)
- Busan Bandits (back to back KERA league champions and Shield holders)
Are the KERA teams able to play in any other tournaments in South Korea?
The Korean Rugby Union’s official tournaments take place on weekdays which isn’t compatible with expat players work schedules. In addition, foreign exchange students aren’t eligible for selection in Korean university rugby sides.
There are a few one-day tournaments hosted by Korean social clubs at various stages throughout the year. These tournaments take place on Sundays which limits the expat teams’ ability to participate due to issues with travel (as well as the after-effects of a rugby player’s traditional night-out activities).
What is the KERA Knock-out Shield?
In the first year of the KERA league, there was a debate about whether the league winner would be decided by having semi-finals and a final. Alternatively, should the winner be based solely on points accrued throughout the season?
Some teams were unable to make every league match due to scheduling conflicts. In the end, the group decided the league cup would be based on regular season points.
Therefore, the KERA knockout shield came about as a compromise. This is played at the end of each season as a stand-alone tournament. The Busan Bandits are the current Shield holders.
When does KERA 2019 start?
The KERA 2019 kicks off in Ulsan on Saturday, April 6th with round two hosted by the Stars and Stripes in Pyeontaek on April 20th 2019.
The clubs are always looking for extra players and welcome supporters. So, if you find yourself in Korea and are keen to come along for a run or just watch rugby from the sideline with a beverage or two get in touch with your nearest club.
Full 2019 KERA Fixtures:
- Round 1: Ulsan, Saturday, April 6th 2019
- Round 2: Pyeontaek, Saturday, April 20th 2019
- Round 3: Seoul, June 1st 2019
- Round 4: Busan, June 22nd 2019
- Round 5: Stars host, September 28th 2019
- Round 6: Busan, October 26th 2019
- KERA Knock-out Shield: Venue (TBC), November 16th 2019
Is there anything else you need to know about KERA?
The teams in the league rely heavily on volunteers to navigate the administrative headaches that come with trying to organize a league in a country where the sport has a very low profile. One man who’s contribution is worthy of special recognition is KERA’s medical officer, Ricky Nash, who does an excellent job of monitoring player welfare at each tournament.
If you are keen to follow the results and get updated on the KERA league, visit the KERA website.
A special thanks to Nick Goodman from the Seoul Survivors RFC for helping with providing the information on the KERA League.