Rugby News & Views From an American Perspective
Article courtesy of the USA Rugby Super League,
The Rugby Super League (RSL) recently held its winter meeting and the consensus of member teams is the league needs to expand. RSL is entering its 15th year and has proven it can last the test of time irrespective of the economic downturn.
RSL was formed in 1996 by fourteen teams and played its first season in 1997. The league has seen teams come and go over the past few years but still remains the number one men’s rugby competition in the US. Eleven teams take the field this spring to compete for the 2011 Rugby Super League championship.
RSL’s Mission Statement reads “To work with member clubs to further the premier Men’s Rugby competition in the United States, while developing and supporting the game of rugby through youth programs to the national level”.
RSL is committed to this mission and believes the time is now right to add teams, with a goal of returning to the participation level before the economic downturn
The last few years have been difficult with the departure of six teams such as Belmont Shore, Santa Monica, OMBAC and the Boston Irish Wolfhounds. While teams leave for different reasons – the main reason has been the cost to participate. The league knows as long as there are dedicated teams who make the commitment and pay the cost share to participate the league will survive.
At its highest team membership in 2008 in a year that 63 games were played the cost share (total travel cost for all games shared among its member clubs) was $28,182 at an average cost of $8,052 per game. When 42 games were played in 2010 the cost share was $20,220 an average cost of $6,740 per game. In contrast to participation in Division 1, 2 or 3 of USA Rugby National Championships, reaching the final four costs more than winning the Rugby Super League because each team has to pay for its own travel and there is no cost sharing involved.
In 2011 RSL embarks on a new path as the Utah Warriors join the league. The Utah Warriors were formed to participate in the league to give players in Utah the opportunity to play rugby at the highest level. This is a new direction for the league. Some are in favor and believe it’s a step in the right direction for US Rugby, while others are unsure if it’s the way to go – time will tell.
The RSL continues to receive applications from teams and given the forecasted upturn in the economy the time is right to bring the league back to it’s past membership level. Member teams through a unanimous agreement have committed to expand in 2012 and get back to a 16 or 18 team league. With this in mind the league will plan a regular 10 game season followed by 3 playoff games to crown a champion in 2012.
The RSL has formed an expansion committee to reach out to former RSL members as well as to look to bring in new teams while targeting under represented areas. Formulized criteria will be put in place to work with potential candidates as they go through the process of joining.
In addition to expansion RSL had doubled its efforts in sponsorship and has added two new sponsors for 2011 – TapOutMouthGuard as well as an exciting new partnership with an organic vitamin/supplement & sports nutrition brand. RSL players will benefit from a 25% discount on all products, which will be sold exclusively through an online dedicated rugby web site. In addition to these two new sponsors the RSL will also again partner with Rugby Athletic and Gilbert Rugby in 2011.
The RSL is also pleased to announce a new member to the Board. Taking on the role of Medical Advisor to the League is Dr. Gregory S. DiFelice, who is a board-certified Orthopedic Surgeon specializing in Sports Traumatology and Joint Reconstruction and practices at the Hospital for Special Surgery and at the New York Presbyterian Weill-Cornell Medical Center in New York City. Dr. DiFelice is an avid rugby supporter and former player for the New York Athletic Club
The RSL continues to be committed to working with USA Rugby as a vital element of the US Rugby landscape and a much needed avenue to the highest level of play in the United States.
To view the 2011 RSL Schedule and for more information on the Rugby Super League please visit their web site at: www.Premier-Rugby.com