Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Video & Notes From The PRO Rugby Sacramento Press Conference

Photo: Michael Kreizenbeck
Yesterday PRO Rugby CEO Doug Schoniger was in Sacramento to officially announce the team. He was joined by Nick Nicora, the Present of Development for Spectra, who own Bonney Field and will run the team, and Cal Expo CEO Rick Pickering.

"We are excited to launch PRO Rugby in Sacramento and five other cities around the United States," said Schoniger. "Sacramento wasn't on my personal radar until I came out to the Eagles-Japanese game in July of last year. When I came out here I said we have to include Sacramento. The reason you're first is that you represent our values...there is nothing more American than this place."

Just to shed a little more light on the partnerships with Spectra, PRO Rugby will own each team and run them centrally from New York but they will have partners on the ground to help run the day to day operations likes selling tickets, staffing the matches, etc.

Take the jump to read more and see film of the press conference.

"Bonney Field was created to serve as a community gathering spot for sports and entertainment activities in the Sacramento region," said Nicora. "We welcome PRO Rugby to this community which has shown great support for its professional sports teams."

Here are a few more notes from the press conference.

--According to Schoniger, most of the markets in the league are bigger than Sacramento. Intially Sacramento wasn't on the radar but then it came to his attention last summer. There will be a diverse mix of teams market wise. Some will be in larger venues, some smaller venues. (We've already seen some of that with PPL Park likely to host the Philadelphia team but the San Francisco team playing out of Boxer Stadium.)

--The history of club rugby and rugby in Northern California is thriving. Schoniger stressed the local support for the Eagles last July even with a match in San Jose the week before.

--Schoniger felt that there would be room for rugby in Sacramento even with the Kings and the Republic looking to move to MLS. He says that rugby will grow as fans turn to more nontraditional sports.

--There will be a competition after the New Year to name the teams. The teams will choose the colors but that's it.

--Pickering stressed that Cal Expo has a large following on Facebook and that there can be a lot of exposure for rugby.

--Schoniger said that previous attempts to start professional rugby in America were non-starts in that they weren't sanctioned by World Rugby.

--There will be a player draft. That will be announced in January with coaches on board by the end of the year.

*A big thanks to Michael Kreizenbeck for the video below. It's flips upside down a few minutes in but the audio is still good!


  1. I had to stop watching the video after a few minutes. Messing with my head too much. So I turned away and listened. Thanks much to Michael for going and getting the press conference for the rest of us. Good on ya Hoss. I like what I heard from it. The only thing I wanted to know, that wasn't covered was, what the team colors were going to be. Schoninger said that the league was going to assign colors to each team, but that was never brought up. Do you think that with the Stadium already being deck out in Maroonish and white, that those will be Sacramento's colors?

    1. I'm sorry about the video, but you figured it out - I was really interested in the audio myself. And, thanks to dan Maloney who was there to record for me while I took a few snaps. So colors - Doug Schoninger is the man and he says that Pro Rugby will assign one color to each team. The reason appears simply to be to prevent redundancy of colors. Pro Rugby will not comment on financial issues and only minimally on the business strategy. The principle at work between ProRugby and local teams appear to be set up a minimally necessary framework of rules and to encourage and support local organizations to flourish from there. Sacramento has not been assigned a color yet. We may have to wait until all the team cities are announced before each is assigned its color.

    2. The colors thing is good. Don't want a repeat of the NRC in Australia where every team is running out in either yellow and blue or yellow and black.

  2. Would be nice to get jersey sponsorship from BLK; whom I believe supplies the Eagle jerseys. Let them come up with some solid designs and develop some merchandise around the teams. And maybe that is already being done .. who knows … which leads me to my one question

    When is the next team announcement? While I don't agree with the steady drip method that the league has chosen so be it. Could we at least get a calendar of when to expect team 2, team 3 etc etc to be announced? Keep the info coming but lets have a time line. It would sort of help the rugby press to stay on top of things and keep fans informed.

    1. Sacramento is not only the first ProRugby city. It is, strictly speaking, the only ProRugby city, so far. There was no specific information about the next city to be ready to go. I suppose the option could have been to wait for all of the cities and venues to be set up before announcing them all at once. The serial of announcement may help to build excitement and help to get remaining cities to organize more quickly. Also, the Sacramento venue partners probably had no reason to wait. Since ProRugby has organized itself, more cities than originally planned for, have come to it making various offers to host a team. Demand is good news. It looks like the budget for Season One is set for six cities. It will be interesting to see who else makes the remaining five.

    2. I love hearing about cities reaching out wanting to host.

  3. Right on Michael! Great questions as well.