Rugby America

Rugby News & Views From an American Perspective

What? Some Free Time… Let’s Chat About Some Rugby

by Ted Hardy

Before I am inundated with tasks this morning, I found a small window of opportunity to crank out some thoughts. So much has been or is going on right now it is hard to focus on one or two items. Instead, let’s go for a run through recent events.

Rugby World Cup

The World Cup is nearly over and they are down to four teams left. Can the All Blacks erase the demons of their past or will they be haunted by another semifinal collapse? On the other side of the bracket, Wales has reached their first World Cup semifinal and I’m betting they’d love a Webb Ellis Cup to place beside their 7’s World Cup trophy that they surprisingly picked up a couple years back.

As for the Eagles, they played with a lot of heart. They won the game they were supposed to win and were only blown out once. They gave both Ireland and Italy tough games, but the outcomes were never in doubt. For every ounce of passion they put into playing defense, they were missing the same enterprise on offense. I’m not sure where the Eagles go from here. Four years of buildup and hype from Boulder wasn’t enough to balance the massive amount of funds sunk into the Eagles. I am very proud of the team, but will not hesitate to say that they are not the key to tapping into the American sports system.

College 7’s National Championship

What a mess. Two months since the announcement and there are still no concrete details on where the tournament is being held? Maybe Texas… maybe Florida? Are you kidding me? As I’ve said before, this tournament should have been locked and loaded waiting for the IOC to rubber stamp rugby as an Olympic sport. Instead we are now two years past the Olympic announcement and all college rugby gets is this? Absolute garbage USA Rugby… garbage I say. Everyone knows that you have put everything you have into the Eagles and bringing back one win from New Zealand, but you don’t have to make it this obvious.

CPD… err Division I-A

In the least surprising announcement in a long time, the Collegiate Premier Division is doing what most people thought they should have done in the first place… name their competition Division I-A. Per USA Rugby, this was to align rugby with other college sports. Suprise, surprise. Anyhoo, Division I will now be called Division I-AA. Division I-A is also down to 26 teams with the Mid-South Conference being the hardest hit in the offseason moves. Both Tennessee and LSU dropped out of the Mid-South to pursue a title in the newly formed Southeastern Rugby Conference.

Pan Am Games

The USA 7’s team is just a couple weeks from playing in the Pan Am Games and this marks their first foray into an Olympic level event. The Eagles are one of the favorites, but honestly… they better be surrounded by the weaker teams in this region of this world. Argentina and Canada will be the USA’s big competitors for gold at the games to be held in Mexico. Canada and Argentina are pooled together, so the USA should be able to breeze through pool play and get a good seed for the elimination rounds. Bringing home gold from the Pan Am Games would be a big boost heading into the IRB World Series season, but it is going to be tough. The USA may be the only team in Mexico that isn’t participating in a pre-tournament event.

The lack of pre-tournament warmups proved to be a difficult obstacle for the team to overcome last season as they struggled for most of the IRB season. Headed into an important event like the Pan Am Games, one can’t help but wonder why USA Rugby couldn’t come up with $20K to send them to a tournament? Bringing home gold might be worth well more than that when the USOC starts handing out funding for the next Olympic cycle.

Based on the tournament field, the USA should come back with at least a bronze medal and USA Rugby will inevitably tout that as a major achievement even though everyone else will know that anything less than gold or silver is a disappointment.

Well, work is starting to pile up. Until next time… peace.

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18 comments on “What? Some Free Time… Let’s Chat About Some Rugby

  1. toolbox
    October 15, 2011

    Comments deleted due to poster using an invalid email address.

    • Rugby America
      October 16, 2011

      Toolbox,

      I appreciate your opinion, even though I have clearly upset you to the point where you are making personal attacks. It would have meant more if you would have not used a fake email address. Until you’re ready to follow the rules of posting comments (i.e. using a valid email address) I have no choice but to delete your comments.

  2. ajax
    October 17, 2011

    This posting just points up what a mess USA Rugby is. Having just come back from NZ and seeing several RWC pool games makes me even sadder in reading this. Our boys did play well and with heart, but it’s heartbreaking that the rugby leadership in this country is doing so little to move the US up in the rugby world.

  3. College Rugby
    October 18, 2011

    Sorry for posting a link to another site, but this touches on your comment above about USA Rugby’s shortchanging the College 7’s Championship. Good to see committee members making a public statement of their distaste.

    http://www.rugbymag.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2357:committee-fed-up-with-delays-on-7s&catid=73:collegiate-sevens&Itemid=91

  4. Rugby America
    October 18, 2011

    College Rugby,

    No problem with the article. It highlights a point that I don’t nearly touch often enough. For all of the anger and venom sent in USA Rugby’s direction from bloggers (like myself), most of it is really pointed at a handful of people and there are still a lot of really good people working at USA Rugby (or in conjunction with) doing their best to improve the game at all levels. Thankless work that gets lost in the shuffle and discontent with our governing body. Unfortunately, when making blanket USA Rugby statements, those people are unjustly implicated.

  5. Benito
    October 19, 2011

    I have a question that’s off-topic. I have asked you about the Rugby Super League website before, and I am curious about why they have links to AMNRL and WeAreRugby.com on their site. Do you know? Do we have some sort of goodwill agreement with the fans of Rugby League to help each other promote rugby regardless of the code?

    Because when you look at the AMNRL website, they don’t have anything about USARugby, Rugby Super League, or Rugby Union in general.

    Just these little things scattered throughout Rugby Union just don’t make sense.

    • Robert
      October 23, 2011

      I actually e-mailed the Rugby Super League about that very issue a few months back. The reply i got was more of a lecture about how true rugby fans should support both codes and since a large bulk of the RSL players also play in the AMRL that they felt obligated to promote the AMRL.

      Seem funny that the AMRl doesn’t support or promote Rugby Union in the states.

      • Benito
        October 24, 2011

        Supporting both codes is all well and good, but I would like to see the people at AMNRL reciprocate the support. And it doesn’t change the fact that AMNRL has a supperior web-site to Rugby Super League.

        • Robert
          October 24, 2011

          Benito,

          I really don’t understand it either. To start with League is a completly different sport. Union isn’t popular enough here to start lending a helping hand. The RSL isn’t business oriented enough. If you are trying to build a business and a brand you don’t start promoting someone else’s product.

          Sometimes I think the guys running the RSL are happy to be amatuers; where they can be the big fish in a small pond. We need to have a professional league or a least revamp the RSL into something more professional. Disband the RSL and then all the clubs in the new pro/semi pro league can return to D1.

        • Benito
          October 25, 2011

          To be blunt, the board of the RSL is free to do what they want. I just believe that they should receive some financial consideration in exchange for listing each news outlet on their website. I don’t believe that the RSL is capitalizing on opportunities to generate income to offset costs.

          Highlights videos that could be sponsored, advertising dollars paid to sponsor the website.

          They aren’t active enough either. They haven’t posted anything on Facebook since the RSL final between Life and SF Golden Gate, I don’t think they have had an update since July on their website when they announced the partnership with Nutrilite, which I suppose is good in that you can still read the announcement on the webpage.

          How about a weekly check-in with each RSL club? How about at least posting scores from the social matches in the fall? How about a report on RSL players that participated in the RWC?

          RSL, I know that money is tight, and economy is hard. But, until you do more to show sponsors that you are getting your name out there and showing them that the have potential to get exposure by branding with you, they simply aren’t going to be interested.

          The Utah Warriors and the Glendale Raptors are two examples of clubs with updates often to let you know what’s going on. They aren’t the only ones that do this, but that are great examples that come to mind.

  6. Andrew Gilbert
    October 22, 2011

    Ted,
    I’m with you on these. Seems to me that if USA rugby had focused on the college and youth game 15 years ago instead of trying to pour so many resources into the Eagles…our national side would have shown improvement by now. There should be far greater influence and support for lower levels and player academy development. My little college side has given USA rugby over 2,000 dollars in dues, etc. and I’m afraid that they won’t see much benefit from those dollars or garner any opportunities to play at higher levels based on the structure of our system. Nearly impossible for talented kids to get noticed…unless they play for coaches that are well connected with USA Rugby.

  7. George Paunganwa
    October 25, 2011

    gentlemen, I hear your frustrations. I have been playing rugby in the US for 10 years and I can tell you we have come a long way. Back then high school rugby was non existent and club rugby was not very organized. The fact that you can come on this site and discuss the game means that it reached you and has come a long way.
    Now the important thing here is the system. Rugby and soccer are really good in a relegation system. So instead of having teams fall out of the Super League we will have the best teams come in through a relegation and promotion system. What we do next is stream all the Super League games live.
    What happens now is that all the teams in division 1 and 2 want to play in the super league and that becomes the central point of what rugby is about in America. With a relegation system every team will have a chance to play in the top league. Creating these divisions with no way to move up suppresses the talent because in essence the best teams might never play each other. and so we will never know which region is producing the best players so that hurts national selection as well.

  8. George Paunganwa
    October 25, 2011

    Have you heard of the Ft Lauderdale Maddogs?

  9. Rugby America
    October 25, 2011

    The RSL is an interesting organization in my opinion. They’ve tried hard to raise the level of competition in the US with varied results. One thing that I’ve always admired about them is that they have done it all on their own merit and with their own funding.

    I’m not sure relegation will ever work with the RSL, because the competition is as much about funding as it is about competition. The league and USA Rugby created a relegation mechanism a few years back and it never held up. There are definitely teams in Division I that could hold their own in the RSL, but the number of teams that could hold their own and come up with the funding is very, very low. It could be argued that the only teams that can afford to play in the RSL are already there.

    With that in mind, I’d really prefer to see the RSL break up into smaller pieces. Maybe that means the end of the RSL as we know it? I think there is a much better opportunity to promote more localized competition where the teams involved can keep their money and use it to promote and improve their level of play as opposed to spending it on costly flights and travel. The USA is just too big and there isn’t enough money in rugby to make a cross-country league viable.

    Look a Europe… in a space that could fit easily within our borders, they have four professional leagues. There are obvious reasons why they have it that way, but it is something I think the USA could learn a bit from. Instead of spreading ourselves thin in regards to the RSL. Why not break it into smaller, more localized leagues each with autonomous leadership? It could likely be done in Northern California/Pacific Northwest. Southern California could make for one hell of a league. Same goes for the Northeast with the corridor between NY and Boston. There are some very good teams in Utah/Colorado that could make for a very competitive league.

    Once it takes hold, then the leagues could look at creating some sort of Heineken Cup style competition with the top teams from each league and maybe some of the Canadian sides.

    The big thing is that I think we need to rethink the model and start tackling it one small piece at a time as opposed to swinging for the fences. The NFL, MLB, and NBA didn’t start out as cross-country competitions. They started with pockets of strength and grew from there. That is what Lacrosse is doing right now. It started out as an East Coast thing and is beginning to see progress across the nation.

    • Robert
      October 26, 2011

      I really like that idea. Why not restructure the RSL/D1 like they are in college 1AA. Organize 16 conferences with 6 to 8 clubs per conference. Each conference could be self sufficient looking after there own funding and organizing there own competition.

      Next the winner of each conference could play each other in an expanded playoff. I know people will say the level of play isn’t there yet to have a competition that big but I do believe we could grow into as a nation.

      Another option is each conference creating there own All Star team and then they play each other in an expanded tournament.

      • Benito
        October 26, 2011

        That could work if USA Rugby either found sponsors to fund the expanded playoff or used it’s money/IRB money to sponsor the expanded playoff. The problem is some areas (the South) only have one elite team. But if you had your own leagues and winning that league qualified you for a larger playoff or challenge event, similar to the Heineken Cup.

        Personally, I am in the camp that wants to improve RSL funding so it can itself improve. The level of competition is already good, they just need a way to make it easier to schedule the competition.

        • Robert
          October 29, 2011

          I agree with both you and working class rugger. Combine a lot of the current RSL clubs to form 12 professional franchises in a new competition. The RSL club sponsors and benefactors would consider the new franchise as there 1st team and both put resources into it to make it as professional as possible. The RSL clubs and there old 1st teams would still exist but compete as A sides in a new D1 competition that supports the revamped RSL.

          USA Rugby could put some money in to help as well. They could help hire a professional staff to help run the new league, such as a commissioner, fundraisers etc.

  10. Working Class Rugger
    October 26, 2011

    The way see it there are two ways Rugby could and should look to improve its top line competition structures. One is the consolidation of the current RSL format from club based to City based franchises. Consolidate the Rugby scene in each city to draw a fanbase and players. This would provide higher quality competition with the best player’s playing together in a more concentrated format. Instead of NYAc and Old Blue you simply have New York. Instead of the Lions and Griffins you have just Chicago. Instead of both the BaaBaas and Raptors just Colorado out of Glendale. The Warriors in their current form and so forth.

    The other alternative in a West Coast like league involving a number of the Canadian Rugby Championship teams.

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This entry was posted on October 14, 2011 by in Club Sevens, College Rugby, Editorials, International Rugby, Olympics, Rugby News.

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