Wednesday, December 28, 2016
Could The Eagles Benefit From The London Welsh Situation?
London Welsh are a club in turmoil. They are deeply in debt and are set to be deducted a lot of points for going into liquidation. There is still a chance they could stay up in the RFU Championship but it seems unlikely given that a number of players have already left the team and the rest are only training two days a week while holding down other jobs. A fund set up by supporters is essentially paying some players at the moment. The RFU will rule next month whether or not London Welsh can even continue in the RFU Championship for the rest of the season.
We think we have a solution that can not only help London Welsh out for the rest of their season (if they are allowed to keep playing) and help American players looking to gain experience. With the professional future of some of the top U.S. domestic players up in the air at the moment and them needing some high level playing time we think that U.S.A. Rugby should find the resources (either in house, through World Rugby, or fundraising) to place a handful of players at the club for the rest of the season.
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We need to state that this is very unlikely to happen. It's short notice, there are a lot of complicated factors involved including what the club can legally do during liquidation and obtaining visas for American players. Additionally, all of February and the first part of March many of the top domestic players are going to be involved with the Americas Rugby Championship. There is an argument to be made that 10 games in the RFU Championship is going to be better than the ARC but it's very unlikely anyone involved wants another repeat of the Brazil disaster.
Still, it would help solve a couple of issues for both sides. For London Welsh they would be able to bolster their team with some very capable players. Americans can play and excel in the RFU Championship. Foreign player restrictions limit some of the chances of Americans to play but there is no question that the likes of Chris Baumann, Angus MacLellan, Nate Augspurger, JP Eloff, Will Holder, Bryce Campbell, and Mike Te'o could all fit in for London Welsh.
If the U.S. were to foot the bill for the players with a minimum salary and provide housing (surely they can find accommodations in London for five or six players for a few months) then London Welsh wouldn't really be out anything other than the incentives from the RFU. However, it's no guarantee that the RFU will even pay them for using England-eligible players if they are into liquidation. If you pay six Americans $2000 a month (you are paying for their housing and this is more for younger, financially flexible players) for five months that's $60,000 for the rest of the year. That's not cheap but you would be getting some of your top players good experience.
For the U.S. they could be putting some of their props and halfbacks in a situation to be in training at a high-level and to experience good competition. One of the things that stands out when the Eagles play other teams is that they just aren't used to playing at the same pace other teams play at. You can play all the ARC and APC games you want but if they aren't at a pace of a full international it's hard to make that step up. RFU Championship games would be a lot more close to what it would be like facing Georgia in the summer than playing Brazil in the ARC.
Again, this is just an idea and very unlikely to happen. Still, it would be an outside the box approach to solving an issues that is going to plague the Eagles this year--high-level playing time for their domestic players.