I had an epiphany today about where I belong in rugby at age 54 and have not been actively engaged in for many years. My next post will be about why I am all of a sudden I am so passionate all of a sudden (in short, just sick and tired of blindly accepting mediocrity), and I’ll provide a background behind that in that post.
Today’s post will focus on BIG ISSUES and pose questions, that I want answered. #NoMoreMediocrity
I have heard there is a professional rugby league being announced this week for the United States domestic rugby scene. It is for play beginning in April, 2016. Teams are proposed to have 5 internationals per 30 man squad, 10 U.S. Internationals and the rest club players… A fellow named Doug Schiniger (sp?) has signed a deal with USA Rugby for the rights to put on this pro league. I don’t know him or anything about him. Does anyone else? Feel free to private message me on FB or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
My assessment: On the surface this is terrific. Who wouldn’t want this? However, I want to know who exactly vetted this thing? I am not being a nay-sayer, I just want to know who looked at it and approved it. Is their governance? The reason I ask is because the following three articles/announcements are very coincidal and if my ‘connect the dots’ matrix is true – then there are individual USAR Board members who stand to gain financially from this venture. Frankly, I find that preposterous.
Here are three announcements to read before going further (Read in order)
So here is how this is going down as I try and understand it.
1. Melville and other Board Members create a separate company RIM which is a for profit company that will be owned by the USA Rugby (a non profit).
2. The RFU (yes, the English one) announces an investment in this for profit company.
3. I hear rumors of a Pro League being announced.. and it should be announced this week
I have a few questions…
1. If the RFU is able to ‘invest’ in RIM which is a for profit company, and the USAR ‘owns the company’ then how much does USAR own, and how much is up for sale to the likes of RFU.
2. Do any of the current USAR Board members have a stake in this new for profit venture
3. Along comes the Pro League.. hmm interesting timing … Do any of the board members have a financial stake in the success of this Pro League?
I may be completely naïve – and feel free to tell me so, but all I read in the articles is about how much money all this stuff will bring in. But, there is no addressing an underlying problem – and that is the quality of the rugby. I have become a true advocate of a saying… if all we do is throw money at this (and some happens to get syphoned off to ‘investors’) with no infrastructure changes to improve the quality of our play then it is wasted money (but some select individuals profit regardless)
As I stated in earlier posts… its great that more and more kids are playing rugby, but if we don’t address the fundamental proactive work to significantly raise the standard of play at all levels then all we have is “more people playing mediocre rugby”.
Which brings me to the Pro League. Great concept, I do like it. But who vetted this? Is there oversight to the vetting and approval process – or is this some inside deal between USAR Board members that allows them to have financial gain regardless if the league actually functions and improves the level of our rugby.
I will wait intently on this announcement. I want to hear the intricate details how this league will be marketed. Where teams/franchises, etc.. are awarded. What is the incentive for players. What is the incentive at the grass roots level to rally support for the league and make the events a world class experience?
I am not naysaying. I promise. But I am not going to blindly go into this thing with rose colored glasses saying ‘Yay we have a pro league, our problems are over, we will win the world cup in 2027 (when Nigel Melville announced he wants to host in USA – but I digress)’.
What I am saying is… we as a USA Rugby Community MUST ensure that this venture succeeds. And if we don’t like the plan, then we need to do something about it. We cannot have this league play in front of 300 people. I want to see full on marketing and franchise plans, and I will welcome them if it is well intended.
I have only heard on hearsay – but the reputation is ‘this guy is in it for the money’. Readers, here me now… We need an entire rugby nation to align with the plan… whatever it is. I want to make sure that as a community this is the plan that will work. Because if it fails, rugby as we want it to be in the USA will be thrown back by decades.
From a personal perspective, I don’t give two darns about the money. I want the players to have incentive to play here – but more importantly I want the quality of the rugby experience and the quality of play improved so that it can translate to high performance on the World stage. That is my motivation.
My goal is to see the USA Rugby Eagles participate in a Rugby World Cup quarterfinal match before I die. I don’t want to make any money from rugby. All I want is the effort I am about to put in to be rewarded by a ticket to that match. Nothing else.
Always welcome any and all feedback.