Rugby News & Views From an American Perspective
The “top-down” strategy, implemented by Chairman Kevin Roberts and CEO Nigel Melville, focused primarily on the Eagles. Chasing a few test victories has failed to make a scratch in the American sporting landscape, bring in significant sponsorship, or even fund itself for that matter.
The CIPP fees of college and high school players along with the welfare from the IRB have been misappropriated in epic proportions by USA Rugby.
Yet, they haven’t answered to anyone and all we get is more and more spin from Boulder.
Only recently has USA Rugby changed their tune to a “top-down, bottom-up” strategy and that came on the back of major efforts at the high school level and a near schism in college rugby.
While I have taken my share of snipes at the current administration, I do not nearly have the reach, universal respect or clout of Ed Hagerty. The level of which can only come from decades of vital work for the rugby community.
Hagerty’s article was a long time coming and couldn’t have been more on target. I applaud him for it and pray that it serves as a watershed moment for USA Rugby.
There have been obvious failures from the current administration while at the same time they have implemented a rather occlusive strategy that has left the constituency in the dark over where our tax dollars are allocated.
My biggest fear is that this great article will fall on the blind eyes and deaf ears of an already broken and apathetic membership. Sadly, this may be what the administration is banking on so they can continue to tell us how “our” way is not working all while their way is failing miserably.
Then I think of the progress made at the youth, High School and College level by hard-working rugby people all across the nation. People that honestly care about American rugby and not a paycheck or a stepping stone on resume. These are people who have already invoked change and people who can do it again.
Hoping to lend a hand, I went digging into the USA Rugby Bylaws. Of course, the excerpts are from the nearly two-year old Bylaws posted on the USA Rugby website. There may be a more recent version that just isn’t being shared.
But, this is all we have to work from, so here goes…
Here’s a look at a few passages that are important to our cause.
ARTICLE IV: CONGRESS
Section 4.1 Authority. The USA Rugby Congress (the “Congress”) shall be the representative body of the Members. All matters required by law to be submitted to a vote of the Members shall be submitted to the Congress, except as otherwise set forth in these Bylaws.
The role, powers, and duties of the Congress shall include:
(a) To receive and review periodic reports on the activities of the Corporation and actions taken by the Board of Directors and to report back to its constituent Members;
(b) To approve, from time to time, the dues structure proposed by the Board of Directors;
(c) To elect and/or ratify the election of certain Directors of the Corporation, as set forth in Section 5.4 of these Bylaws;
(d) To remove the Directors in accordance with Section 5.7 hereof (see below);
(e) To approve amendments to the Certificate of Incorporation and Bylaws of the Corporation as set forth in Article XV; and
(f) To approve all fundamental change transactions not in the ordinary course of business, including without limitation, all mergers, consolidations, divisions, sales of substantially all assets, and the liquidation or dissolution of the Corporation.
Section 5.7 Removal of Directors.
The entire Board of Directors or any individual Director with the exception of the Athlete Representative Directors may be removed from office for cause upon the petition of at least twenty-five percent (25%) of the members of the Congress in office and the subsequent vote of at least two-thirds (2/3) of the members of the Congress in office.
For purposes of this Section 5.7, “cause” shall mean the failure by the Director to carry out his/her duties or responsibilities as a Director or any action or inaction which, in the discretion of the Congress, materially and adversely affects or may affect the Corporation. (Note: Strong “cause” arguments can be made regarding pretty much all of the current Board Members)
The Athlete Representative Director may be removed from office for cause upon the petition of at least twenty-five percent (25%) of the Athlete Representative Congress Members in office and the subsequent vote of at least two-thirds (2/3) of the Athlete Representative Congress Members in office.
For purposes of this Section 5.7, “cause” shall mean the failure by the Athlete Representative Director to carry out his/her duties or responsibilities as an Athlete Representative Director or any action or inaction which, in the discretion of the Congress, materially and adversely affects or may affect the Corporation.
Now, who are our Congress Members?
Here is a list from the USA Rugby website with email addresses.
Mid-Atlantic Territorial Union
Midwest Territorial Union
Northeast Territorial Union
Pacific Coast Territorial Union
Southern California Territorial Union
South Territorial Union
West Territorial Union
So, that is 26 Congress Members and a petitition with 25% of Congress signed to get to a vote. That’s only seven members needed on the petition and hardly a long shot.
Once there a 2/3 vote is needed. That means 18 of 26 need to be in favor of the removal of any one Board Member. Now, that’s a bit of a tougher sell.
Honestly, I’d be pretty happy just to see Kevin Roberts out of office and Nigel Melville’s salary taken down a peg (or three). Melville is a good rugby man that seems in a bit over his head. But, he has value… just not at $250K.
Roberts seems to care nothing about USA Rugby (but he loves his All Blacks) and he has done next to nothing in four years as Chairman.
Make no mistake; this is not going to be easy. As Ed Hagerty said in his article, it all starts with Congress. If they will not vote against the current Board of Directors then we have no chance going this route and things get a little more drastic.
Seeing as the way to USA Rugby’s heart is through money, it may require withholding CIPP fees to get them to see differently.
How necessary, to the operation of the clubs in America, is the CIPP fee?
Think about it honestly and then think about it some more. When everything is stripped down to the basics, you may wonder why anyone pays them. You’ll also walk away feeling more strongly about how your money is allocated.
While I’m not a huge fan of the CIPP, I am not against it either. That is… as long as it is being used in the right manner.
Before it does get too rough, please make your voice heard through your congress members. They are appointed to represent all of us. The support of the membership may give them the confidence to finally stand up to the Board.
If they can’t or won’t make a stand, then we may all get to see a major revolution at a time when it may be detrimental to some of the progress that has been made.
Then again, if not now… when?