The Rugby Super League is no more and in its place is the U.S.A. Rugby directed Elite Cup. We sat down with Rugby Super League President Sean Kelly to get his thoughts on the changes to the tournament, the impact on certain club teams, and more, including a thank you to fans that have followed the league.
Read the interview after the jump and share your thoughts.
This Is American Rugby: In general, are the Super League teams pleased with the new Elite Cup?
Sean Kelly: They are pleased because they are now allowed to play their super league players in Division One (if they choose too) and they also get to play in the cup in the Spring of 2013. That may not necessarily be the case in 2014 as USA Rugby will look to include the ‘Final 4’ finishers from Division One (2013) in the cup and that could limit the number of current RSL Teams from competing. In 2015 USA Rugby solely wants entry to the cup to be limited to the “Elite 8” from Division One of the previous year. This will eliminate some of the current RSL Teams as each individual GU region will be given one spot thus eliminating two of the three (Boston, NYAC, Old Blue) current Super League teams in the Northeast. It will also give a berth in the cup to teams who may not be as strong because they come from a region that does not have a higher concentration of quality teams as other regions might have. I hope a compromise can be reached to grandfather those teams currently in the RSL into the cup going forward.
TIAR: For teams like OPSB, who don't want/unable to play DI, how are they going to fulfill their schedule?
SK: OPSB are so isolated that they are undecided what they will do in regards to playing D1. NYAC missed the deadline to register to play in the ‘Empire D1’ this fall so they are setting up games with some local teams. They hope that their appeal to USA Rugby to allow them to compete in D1 this fall will be upheld but with everything that is happening I am not quite sure what will happen. I have not heard what SFGG are doing.
TIAR: How involved will you and the rest of the Super League administration be involved in the new competition?
SK: Currently two of the Rugby Super League (RSL) Managers (Tony Nash & Greg Rocca) are sitting on the board that has been formed by USA Rugby to organize the cup. Once the cup has been formed and agreed too I do not see the RSL playing a major role in the administration of the cup as it will be done in-house by USA Rugby. I see my final involvement in the Super League to be a purely administrate role as we wrap up the financials and wind down the RSL by the end of this year.
TIAR: Are their plans to expand the match schedule in 2014? Expand the number of teams?
SK: I would hope that USA Rugby would look to have more than 8 teams in the 2014 cup and hopefully grandfather in those teams who have been a part of the Rugby Super League going forward until they decide that they no longer wish to participate as opposed to being eliminated because they did not finish in the D1 “Elite 8” the previous year.
TIAR: What will happen to the Super League's sponsors?
SK: The RSL does not currently have any sponsors other than Gilbert who sponsored the practice and match balls for the past five years. Potential sponsors will now be directed to speak directly with USA Rugby.
TIAR: Is there anything you would like to say to the fans that have followed the Super League over the past few years?
SK: I personally would like to thank anyone who has Watched, Played, Reffed, Coached, Sponsored or Administrated in any capacity over the past 16 years of the Super League because without these individuals who voluntarily gave of their time and money the league would not have lasted as long as it did. Change is good, let’s hope it’s for the best.