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Sunday, August 25, 2013

U.S.A. Rugby, Premiership Discussing Potential Partnership

ESPNScrum is reporting that U.S.A. Rugby is currently in London to discuss with the Premiership of hosting high-level matches in the United States. The Premiership has been keen for some time to host matches in the U.S. and the meetings between U.S.A. Rugby CEO Nigel Melville and the Premiership CEO Mark MacCafferty are the next positive steps in making that happen.

According to the ESPNScrum article McCafferty told the Rugby Paper that the U.S. believes 50,000-70,000 people would show up to a match. To McCafferty's credit he noted that high of a number might not come for years but that eventually it might happen. The U.S. is only interested in hosting a top-level match and not a pre-season fixture. With the ongoing dispute between the Premiership and their European partners it's not surprising to see talks like this take place. At this point a high-level match may be a regular season match or whatever the Premiership comes up with to replace the Heineken Cup should they not reach an agreement. Venues in Washington, Miami, Cleveland, and Boston have been discussed.


  1. Why east coast ? Why not play a game or two on the west coast.

  2. I love this idea. Unfortunately I think the premiership is just using the USA as a threat towards Europe regarding the Heineken Cup.

    1. You're right on there. Nigel gets to do the dance knowing full well what the story is and while he is at it try to put together what he is going to do post USA Rugby to line his wallet.

    2. It's a one-off game, and a regular season one at that. It doesn't make for much of a threat. I believe this move is more about establishing a presence for the Aviva Premiership in the U.S. so that new fans believe that the Premiership is THE major league.

  3. I'd like to see SANZAR do likewise on the West Coast. That way, people who realise that SR is by far the best standard going around. People often say that the 15 man game would be too complicated for American to understand (Which I think is complete BS by the way. American Football is the biggest game in town and its quite a strategically intensive sport) but for Rugby to develop any presence in the States then the style played in SR will be the most ideal in which to do it.

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  5. This article kind of reminds me of the story of Emperor Nero who fiddled while Rome burnt. Screwing around with plans for bringing EPL teams to the US for exhibition games, should not be a priority for USAR right now.

    Right now we have a crisis on our hands - the cream of USA rugby - our Eagles Men’s XV's, have been found to be woefully inadequate even in Tier 2 of rugby nations. Yes, we will probably beat Uruguay and enter the RWC via the back door again and yes we will play "easier teams" than Canada, but if that makes us sleep well at night, then we are surely missing the point.

    We can brag all we want about the % growth in youth rugby and college rugby (% growth from a low base always looks good!) and the feats of the USA 7's men’s and Women's team's, but in the real world of Rugby today, all this means nothing when your national Men’s XV's team is fumbling its way down the IRB ranking.

    It's time for a root and branch review of what we are trying to achieve; it’s time for people who care to step up and say enough is enough with the way we are managing the sport of rugby in the US.

    Change is needed and it is needed now. If we continue to do what we have always done (i.e. tolerate mediocrity) - do not be surprised if we get what we have always got.....more mediocrity.

    Or maybe it's time to come clean and face the harsh reality, the US actually is a developing nation (at Rugby) and we rightfully belong in Tier 3 with Portugal, Russia, Ivory Coast, Namibia, Korea, Belgium etc. etc.

    1. Since we've become a rugby community with an intense focus on youth rugby and growing the game from that direction (something you've put many manhours into Paul and we thank you for that!), we've also become a rugby community that begins to expect more performance-wise from our representative sides. This is as it should be.

      What are we trying to achieve? Tier 1 status and winning the RWC. How do we do that? Consistently executing the basics better than our opponent (on the pitch and in the boardroom).

      Looking at Los Teros (Uruguay) and how they have re-structured their rugby program has me concerned about the Spring. If we do qualify for the RWC, I think it will be just squeaking by. They are more cohesive than the Eagles have been recently. It's going to be a matter of whether they execute the basics more consistently or whether we do. It's no longer a question of which team is better, should be better.

      The US has the athletes to reach Tier 1. It is just a matter of whether we can ALL execute the basics more consistently than our opponents.

  6. We do need more high level club and international matches in the US to promote the game.

    The only thing I am confused about is how they expect 50,000 to show up when the average in the UK is only 12k?

  7. I hear you Grant and I believe you are right - What I cannot believe is the apparent apathy from the 115,000 active members of USA Rugby. Either they do not read TIAR (shame on them) or they are using another forum to communicate their thoughts. They might be so engrossed in their club or college or state affairs that they just don't care about the national teams or they are so disillusioned that they have opted out of the debate.

    The youth movement will die a death quickly if the parents cannot see a development pathway for their kids to follow. The Mens (and Womens) Eagles (Xv's and 7s) is the ultimate goal of almost all youth programs, so when the Elite teams under perform and slide down the world rankings - it undermines all the efforts and volunteer hours put in at the grass roots level and precipitates instability in the youth movement.

    I do not think the Eagles have just hit a bad patch - instead I fear we are witnessing the beginning of the demise of a sport that held so much promise. The symptoms of the current malignancy have been evident for some time...the secession of the elite colleges, the defection of some of the key SBROs, the resignation of the chief marketing officer in Boulder to name but a few.

    Without significant change in the way we manage the sport of rugby in the USA, it will die a rapid and painful death and Nero will still be fiddling on his lyre.

  8. USA has bring its strengths to bear to develop rugby:
    1) take advantage of the size of the USA market and start a non-national identity league which has only one criteria - to be elite with a world class product (doesnt matter what the nationalities of the players are - does it matter to NHL?) and develop a market with a fan base. The fans who will make rugby work in the USA at the elite level now do not even know what a rugby ball is - existing USA rugby demographics are commercially irrelevant. USA Rugby has no role here, not eventhe slightest.
    2) split 7s and XV organization severely - forming two NGBs, one Olympic Movement driven with juice from the Amateur Sports Act 1978 and the USNOC; the other NGB for amateur development of only XVs. There is no synergy between 7s and XVs, but that some service providers and administrators are cagey enough to get effectively two pay checks.
    3) accept our lot, face reality - USA is Tier III now given the organizational weirdness to date and and almost all CIPP and other funding should be pulled now from Eagle mens play - fund women where we do very well. Disband all U-20 and younger national play - move it to the regional unions. Put as much funds as possible amateur regional club play for all ages, both genders, until we have at least 30 elite players - then see #1 above.

    Premature stressing of Eagles XV now or involvement by USA Rugby with professional play will result in this outcome:

    You can go on and on scheming and scamming and dreaming. We are what we are and there are tried and true and proven ways to develop an elite ability in the USA for any team sport. Why try to reinvent the wheel? Why try to impose the Tongan Rugby Union model on the USA? Weirdness.

    What is wrecking havoc on XVs? Conflict of interest with 7s. If I was a Machiavellian Tier I RU character around 2006 or so, and noting the success USA was showing in XV growth, I could not have thoguht up a better ruse that to have put 7s into the Olympic and then throw that as rat bait to the Americans. It worked. Doesnt look like the Tier I RUs will have to share any of the RWC $1 bil dollar pie any time soon with the USA, as we scamper off after 7s seemingly "low hanging fruit" glory and cannibalize XB development.

    Rugby union will always be a XV game. Period. I think beach volleyball is a demanding sport and wonderful to watch in the Olympics - but I dont confuse two gals from Venice Beach winning a medal in beach volleyball with what gym volleyball is all about.

    That's where the money is, XV XV XV, that is where the capital is, that is where the fans are... And that is where your players who provide all that CIPP money are, &s players are by defintion less and are never the stalwart members of any major rugby club. Thats your forwards, especially old boy props.

    Why is all this a contentious thing to say these days?