Rugby News & Views From an American Perspective
by Ted Hardy
Yesterday, after months and months of speculation, USA Rugby released information on a fall season of 7’s tournaments that culminates in a National Championship tournament in December. The problem is that, as with many USAR releases, the information was limited and vague at best.
The location for the championship has yet to be determined and how the tournament field is decided is also up in the air. The women’s event is going to be invitational, which makes it sound like the women were added as an afterthought. The men’s field of 24 teams comes from 13 announced tournaments. I’m not a math major, but it sounds like there are going to be some “at large” bids to the tournament. There was also no mention of how CPD teams fit into the mix.
The process of selecting at-large teams is a hotly contested subject even at uber-organized levels of collegiate athletics and USAR is going to step into a position where they are picking teams for the national championship? Can’t wait to see how that plays out.
The problems don’t stop at simple tournament logistics. This tournament has been one of the worst kept secrets in American rugby for at least 5-6 months. It was late Winter/early Spring when I first heard about it. With all of that time to put together a clear and concise release, USAR seemingly scrambled to send out a short memo after the Atlantic Coast 7’s more or less broke the news officially with their most recent press release.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. USAR can’t say that any of this snuck up on them or they lacked time to put something together. The short sightedness of our current administration has brought collegiate rugby to this point. A collegiate 7’s National Championship was absolutely inevitable and this is all that we get? A short and vague release? This should have been a major news release with a detailed layout of the tournament, where it is, how teams qualify, sponsors, and surely a quote or two from management.
It has now been almost two full years since the IOC made rugby an Olympic sport. Even during that year, it had become evident that rugby was going to get the needed votes to return to the world’s biggest stage. A plan was needed even before that final vote. Instead USAR had a party in New York to celebrate as if the sponsorship money was finally going to start rolling into their coffers. Please.
A plan for the growth and development of 7’s should have already been in place and ready to roll the second the IOC stamped rugby’s ticket. Instead, USAR continues to let others, such as USA 7’s LLC., lead the charge. At the very worst, a Collegiate 7’s Championship should have been launched last year at this time. Instead, a year later, we get a pathetic release about a tournament a week from Christmas that doesn’t even have a location. This tournament has the potential to be a major event and it has been given the stepchild treatment.
It is fitting that the same day the Eagles, as well as their massive entourage, leave for the World Cup in New Zealand that USAR squeeks out a blurb on what could be one of the marquee events on the American rugby calendar. Not that there has ever been any confusion as to where our leadership’s attention lies.