USA Rugby: Another Opportunity Lost 10

I am  fearful of the “opportunity loss” about to hit us in USA Rugby.  It’s been 8-9 weeks since our disappointment at RWC. Currently, we await  further ProLeague news, and the 7’s boys are doing magical things.

But from my seat, it is now RWC2019 Cycle!  It’s already started. European Club players are putting their best forward in the various Cup and League fixtures as they prepare for the Six Nations.  Southern Hemisphere teams will jockey for position in the Super 18 early next year as players compete for the opportunity to represent their countries.  

Looking forward, our next test match is a mere 7 weeks away. This is not a Tier 2 test either. The USA Eagles are playing Argentina (yes, the RWC2015 Semi Finalist!!) on February 6.

What have we done in the past 8 weeks?

  1. Had a Board meeting where the prevailing attitude appears to be, “everything’s cool”
  2. Fired a coach. aka. did not renew contract.
  3. Put an ad on the web advising we are looking for coach.

How’s our preparation for the Argentina Test?  We have yet to name a coach. With the holidays coming, this new coach and presumably staff will have approximately 4 weeks to prepare for USA Rugby’s next round of Test matches.  These are five games from which we can build a base, target ‘projected players’ (i.e. those not ready now, but project to be in 2019), evaluate player leadership, etc.. and start to create some legacy. We have test matches in 7 weeks, and we have no coach.

At the US National Men’s team level, we have 40-50 opportunities (i.e., tests)  in the course of the next four years to create something special at the Rugby World Cup in 2109.  We are six weeks removed from our last ‘performance’ (you remember our pack getting pushed around by Japan) and from what I can tell (and with numerous conversations with people ‘inside’) all we have done as a ‘Team’ or ‘Union’ or whatever we call ourselves, is fire a coach and put out a search on the web advising we are looking for one.  Personally, I found this ad extremely embarrassing – but that is another story for another time.

Every game should be a cherished opportunity for (as the AB’s say) ‘to leave the jersey in a better place’. We must treat the opportunity that every test match affords to build towards a better, sustainable team and with increasing expectations with each outing. Can we do that by giving any coach a mere 4-5 weeks to work?

I wish USA Rugby could step back and literally come up with a four year plan (not just for national team, but for age grade,  college, and club) that is part of a larger 10-15 year picture.  But how to get there?   I’ll be focusing on how to get there, and more later on that. We’ve already lost the opportunity to be proactive for 2016.

At this time, the vision needs to be developed at theUSA Rugby Executive and Board level.   Planning requires leadership, and I fear that once again with our laissez-faire attitude towards the rapidly approaching the Americas Rugby Championship, we are losing a huge opportunity to build momentum for what will be a long journey to RWC2019.

There is so much more to do… See you in San Francisco at the USA Rugby National Development Summit.