Rugby News & Views From an American Perspective
Release courtesy of USA Rugby with additional commentary by Ted Hardy
Effective with the opening of the 2011-2012 Membership Season, the USA Rugby Board of Directors named four Geographical Unions (GUs) as part of a pilot program to review a new streamlined union structure. GUs are designed to support anticipated growth in the game and to provide increased member services at the local level.
Two of the four new pilot GUs were formed by splitting the Northeast Rugby Union (NRU) into two GUs: New England RFU (a former LAU) and Northeast (formerly Met New York and New York State LAUs). Texas, a former LAU within the West Territorial Union, is now a standalone GU. Southern California (a former TU) is the fourth pilot GU.
Geographical Unions are defined based on a combination of club density in an area and natural geographical boundaries. A GU may be a single state, multiple states, or parts of a large state.
The template for a GU’s organizational structure, financial models and bylaws were developed over a two year period by a committee commissioned by USA Rugby CEO and President of Rugby Operations, Nigel Melville, to research the best and highest performing models from existing LAUs and TUs, other rugby-playing nations, and other national governing bodies (NGBs).
One predominant feature of GUs is a full-time USA Rugby administrator who will live in the GU and partner with local rugby organizations to help facilitate and implement USA Rugby programs at the local level while supporting growth. Pilot GUs will start with part time administrators and transition to full-time over a two to four year period.
The TU/LAU Review Committee is made up of members from around the country including: John Coppinger (Pacific); George Durocher (Mid-Atlantic); Martin Gardner (South); Jeremiah Johnson (Midwest); Danita Knox (South/Committee Chair); Bill Middleton (USAR Board of Directors); Joe Olzaki (Northeast); Bill Sexton (West); and Steve Vent (Southern California).
Note: This is the end of the USA Rugby release.
While I wholeheartedly applaud efforts to get paid personnel in charge of growing the game, this is downright confusing and it is being delivered under the disguise of simplification. USA Rugby has spent the last few years cutting the power base of the TU’s and LAU’s withthe creation of SBRO’s and autonomous collegiate conferences. That tactic has been seen as a positive step towards a more streamlined approach and hope for a future without the convoluted mess of TU’s and LAU’s to fleece the pockets of the rugby community.
Just when progress is being made, now we have GU’s which just sounds like a more powerful LAU or a smaller scale TU?
That is the exact opposite of streamlining unless there is part of the story that is not being shared by USA Rugby. Speculation wise, I’m guessing the GU’s are another step towards eliminating LAU’s and TU’s albeit at a very slow pace (note the 2-4 year period in the release above). Even if 40 GU’s are put in place and all of the TU’s and LAU’s are abolished, will it really be any different? The same people that run your LAU’s and TU’s will be the same people in charge of the GU’s and little will change for the common players or clubs that pay fees to them.
My biggest problem with the release is the lack of information, which has become common with USAR releases. There was no mention of how GU’s will dovetail into the current structure, what this means for the future of TU’s or LAU’s, or any rationale as to how this streamlines operations.
Maybe one of our fans can clear the air on this subject, because I’m at a loss. Is this actually a step in a better direction or are TU and LAU staff just switching from volunteers to being paid personnel?
Questions need asked, because any time there is talk of paying people to be in charge of running rugby operations, there is only one place to get that money from. It’s not USAR who is broke… it sure isn’t sponsors… it is going to be clubs and players who fund this experiment.