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. 


  1. One vision for USA Rugby: to be a dominant force in World Rugby – both genders, 7s & XVs.

    The Eagles should sit in the 1-4 spots of each of those rankings, series points, or RWC finishes with consistency.

  2. Good points Tony! Like you I don’t see anything happening, and so we’re like a fish out of water just flappin’ in the air with no site for ever gettin’ back in the water . . . in 15s we’re dyin’ and have been for several years!

  3. Simply Frustrating to be so poor at a game we have been playing such a long time, in a country where we have so much! I do not know enough when it comes to financing USA Rugby, but sure appears to be poor leadership along with no money?

    • Ed, there are so many topics…I just wanted to raise one that immediately comes to mind for this week – and is representative of the far greater problems. Money – yes, … Here is what I heard first hand. The Board leaves it all to the CEO in this case. The CEO leads the fundraising. Last years budget contained $2MM of the $15MM budget as funds being raised from outside (i.e. not events, licensed goods, etc..). For the whole year, our Board and CEO raised $2MM. That is chump change. I’ll be writing on that later as I get more metrics on how this compares to our competition.

  4. Sounds like the is one the RFU ought to help with – help the special relationship with some funds (RFU not short), put some coaches in the US to help them develop their International credentials, and help develop some players too. We always complain the we need more teams competing for a genuine chance of a quarter final place rather than the predictable ones. So maybe now is the time for the RFU to take the Eagles under their wing (sorry) and help them through to a quarter final place in 2019.

    • That’s a laugh!

      Funbus couldn’t get his own team into the RWC Cup Quarters. How in the hell is he going to carry the Eagles?

      The RFU have already invested some of their cash overflow into USAR’s RIM.

      The RFU & WR have been directing USAR’s course for a decade now. They need to worry about the splinters in their own eye, not the log they placed in the path of USAR.

    • Simon, thanks for taking the time to read/post to the blog. I can’t agree with you on this. It is my opinion that we currently are too beholden to the likes of the RFU (or whatever it is called now), i.e., the RFU investment in RIM. I think there is colossal opportunity for conflict of interest with this entire ‘entity’, in fact I know there is colossal opportunity for conflict of interest. Our solution needs to come from within. We need leadership in a big way. I love this one.. “USAR is a 40 year old start up”. It’s true… and actually that is fine.. but if we want to get out of start-up mode, we have to change just like any organization would need to.

    • That’s incorrect. All ARC matches are Reg 9 Test matches. All The Super Rugby Argentine players may not be playing, but the Europan playing pros will be released to play. The Argentina team playing will be Los Pumas as agreed.

  5. JL Benet (and thanks for taking the time to comment on my blog), why would it matter if we are playing a side called “Pumas” or “Jaguars”?

    This is an opportunity for us to begin to once again build some sort of base/foundation. I am saying that it is a shame that we just can’t come up with a longer term plan than ‘what’s happening next month’. I would hope that with very minor exception, any player who does not project for RWC2019 not be considered for these ARC matches… that is, if our goal as a team/union is to compete at the highest level we can every four years at RWC. But, we don’t know if that is our goal at USAR – because we don’t have a mission statement, no measurable goals (i.e. metrics) from which we can assess success/failure. See previous posts.

    Every single opportunity we have to field a USA team should be granted the greatest chance for ‘success’. That should be defined at some point. There is a lot of money at stake (not just in costs to put on events, etc…) but also future revenue in terms of sponsorship. Continued mediocrity gives us no chance to secure sponsorship from companies that actually want to send money our way. I have spoken to several of the company reps. There is more to lose than just in terms of points on the scoreboard.

    We need a complete revamp of our ‘system’ at the USAR level. New leadership, and leadership that has the experience/passion (and kahuna’s) to make some titanic moves. This is at the CEO and Board level. That is clear.

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