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Thursday, January 21, 2016

Why Venues Are Slowing PRO Rugby Announcements


Ever since PRO Rugby announced their intentions last year fans have been anxious for news. After the initial announcements of the Sacramento and San Francisco teams the news has mostly dried up since then. Yes, there has been a combine in San Diego and another planning in San Francisco but given the experience of the NRFL still fresh in the minds of fans some are worried that PRO Rugby could go the same way.

To ease those concerns PRO Rugby released a statement on Facebook confirming that they were making progress toward announcing the rest of the teams as well as the coaches and players. To dig more into the issue we spoke with officials from PRO Rugby about the hold-up in announcing the venues, the status of coaches and players, as well as their readiness to start the season.

Take the jump to read more.
When asked why there haven't been any announcements recently Director of Rugby Steve Lewis pointed to the complexity of agreeing to venues, something he admitted was a bit of a learning progress for the league. Lewis emphasized that the league has agreements ready to go for three venues that should be signed soon. He also stressed that it's not as simple as agreeing to use a venue on specific dates. "We know where we want to play but this first season is very much venue driven and it's where we can play. It's not like we have a magic wand and we can do whatever we want. There is a process."

It's starts with finding the right sized facility. That means no NFL stadiums and no stadiums that are too small. Another major factor in the facility choice is the turf. World Rugby is starting to enforce their stringent turf standards from professional competitions this year and currently the U.S. only has a couple of facilities, including the new turf at Notre Dame and Glendale, that meet the requirement. With more and more facilities turning to turf over grass it limited some of the options, especially in the Northeast.

According to Lewis once the venue was picked then came the negotiations over dates. Once that was finished came a number of small items that are important but are often overlooked. These include things like parking, staffing, whether there can be alcohol, who does ticket sales, etc. In Sacramento, PRO Rugby has partnered with Bonny Field to take care of those things but not all of them are taken care of in San Francisco. The same is true in the new facilities where PRO Rugby had to negotiate over every single item. In the end those things took a lot of time, something that Lewis agreed was extremely frustrating.

PRO Rugby has already identified and interviewed the coaches they want. However, without venues solidified and signed they can't sign those coaches to contracts. For example, let's say they sign a coach for a team in Columbus, Ohio only to have that venue fall apart. Where would the coach go? He's already been set up to be in Columbus and it would be very difficult for that coach to move somewhere else. In the end PRO Rugby might be on the hook for a coaches salary, something that isn't good for a start-up.

The same thing goes for players as well. Although PRO Rugby has already interviewed players and has an idea of the first group they want to sign they can't do that until they know where all the teams are going to be located. Once the venues are finalized then you can expect the league to almost immediately announce their coaches and first round of players according to Lewis.


5 comments:

  1. What about the notion of a draft? I think there was mention of a public draft, but I think we need to skip that this year, as much fun as that would have been.

    ReplyDelete
  2. About those little, niggling items, please consider items such as ticketing.
    If you want to keep costs modest you have to take out the major players such as TicketMaster, who charge fees that could really add on to the price.
    If not that, whatever vendor you use will have to set up a customized website for PRO Rugby, with sub-divisions by venue (and only for the venues permitted), with all the dates - that's thirty different dates.
    Add in permutations such as season tickets (home only), group sales, parking vouchers (?), and even T-shirts, and it gets complicated.
    Yet fans will want to purchase tickets as soon as the venues are confirmed.
    Yikes!

    ReplyDelete
  3. These are all details that should have been worked out before the "announcement"
    The items mentioned are really, really basic items that should have been in place before a press release. Now it's just making Shoninger, Lewis and USA Rugby look ill prepared and over anxious (again) "We are starting a new Professional League....but we don't have any venues or details worked out yet" C'mon now.....that's sports management 101 stuff. Build it and they will come, yes, but nothing has been built yet. Cut your losses for 2016 and get back to the veritable drawing board.

    ReplyDelete
  4. These are all details that should have been worked out before the "announcement"
    The items mentioned are really, really basic items that should have been in place before a press release. Now it's just making Shoninger, Lewis and USA Rugby look ill prepared and over anxious (again) "We are starting a new Professional League....but we don't have any venues or details worked out yet" C'mon now.....that's sports management 101 stuff. Build it and they will come, yes, but nothing has been built yet. Cut your losses for 2016 and get back to the veritable drawing board.

    ReplyDelete
  5. agreed completely ^ all of these should have been done before an announcement of the league and especially the start of the season!

    ReplyDelete