As a follow-up to yesterday’s post USA Rugby – Changing leadership presents huge opportunity! I want to get into more detail on the Independent Stakeholder’s group; Often discussed, never implemented.
Independent Stakeholders Group
This is the perfect time for our Administration to create the independent stakeholders group; it’s been so often talked about but never implemented. Now is the time. With so much momentum, it is the “all in moment” for our rugby community. Such a stakeholders group could streamline some of the many obstacles that will need to be overcome prior to Nigel Melville’s departure in a mere 8 weeks. This could include vetting candidates for the CEO jobs (assisting the ‘search firms’ with some reality checks), and act as an arm of the Board to be utilized at the Board’s discretion. It could certainly help be an independent review of the soon to come Strategic Plan. The business potential alone from creating such a group is reason to implement immediately. Note, this group should be independent of any official relationship with USAR or any entities. The leader of this group should have the following skill sets:
- Knowledge of the sport at all levels, a history of our past, and a vision for our future.
- Ability to connect the US rugby community to the global community
- Extensive knowledge of the business of American sport (not just rugby)
- Relationships w/ media people, money people, and the ability to bring such people together to foster growth at a level different from an NGB or Congress.
- He or she must be respected globally for their rugby IQ (on and off the field)
- Communicate honestly and effectively for the group to USAR Board, CEO, or RIM as needed.
- He/she should be the ultimate team player
I had a conversation with a USAR Board member who expressed more of a desire to rally an effective congress, rather than start yet another ‘group’ or committee. That sentiment is well understood, and no doubt we have to work on the effectiveness of Congress as a group. There are great people in the congress, but the structure alone (40+ with no elected or designated leadership) hinders this group. However, the personnel I am talking about serving on such a stakeholders group are at a significantly higher professional level (generally) than our congress members. The comparison might be the Stakeholders Group is the G-20, and the Congress is, well, Congress.
The two entities serve different purposes, and are filled with different people. The congress is USAR’s representative body. We need congress to serve their role as stewards of our game. The Stakeholders Group will consist of top level people in their respective fields; finance, media, senior rugby executives (i.e. former CEO’s of other rugby playing union’s), etc.. The congress serves an enormous role, so to can the stakeholders group serve an enormous role – just a different one.
The list of candidates to lead such a stakeholders group begins and ends with Dan Lyle. The Board should ask Dan to create such a group, give him guidance and let him be great. Lyle’s rugby/business rolodex is on par with anyone’s in the world and as a ‘take itself seriously’ rugby playing nation, we must bring Dan back into the fold to serve USA Rugby off the field as he did for so many years on it.
Lyle was a USA Rugby employee 8-10 years ago and without trying to find water that has gone far under the bridge, it is time to bring America’s single most respected rugby resource back into the fold in an official and constructive capacity. Such a role would not conflict with Lyle’s job as an Executive with United World Sports. Lyle currently runs the spectacular and successful Las Vegas 7’s.
His involvement in a formal role should not warrant discussion. The only discussion should be “how do we utilize our top human asset?”.
Lyle’s on the field status is legendary, but perhaps not as relevant now as the fact he was elected to Captain Bath Rugby Club. 5 England Capped players on that team (including Guscott, Redman, Obugu, Mike Catt, and Ben Clark) as well as the likes of Welsh Wing, Ieuen Evans, and the Scottish Captain, Andy Nichol – and they selected an outsider, an American, Dan Lyle as their Captain. His nickname in the UK is “Captain America“. This is equivalent to be a rookie being asked to Captain the New York Yankees; it just doesn’t happen. This is telling of the quality person Lyle is. His leadership and work on behalf of rugby in this country is astounding.
Lyle currently works with broadcasters, stadiums, sponsors, universities, PR companies, and I am sure many of the people reading this. At 45, he will be the youngest person going into the US Rugby Hall of Fame this June, but is in his prime as a leader. He is dynamic, thoughtful, inclusive and yearning for us all to work together. His rugby network is literally a ‘who’s who’ of senior Union administrators around the world, starting with the Chair of World Rugby.
If you have read my stuff before, and cared enough to like/share… this is the post to like/share. Let’s get Dan Lyle back into the fold, such that he can speak with official capacity in his ventures around the globe on behalf of our sport.
If we as an American rugby community, we need our best players playing. This is both on the field, and off the field. Dan is a USA Rugby Hall of Famer on the field…lets let him be one off the field.
Does anyone agree? Better yet, does anyone disagree that Lyle would be the perfect selection for such a position?
As many of you know, I have worked hard to re-acquaint myself with the landscape of American rugby. I do not have a stronger recommendation in any capacity than the one I make above.
I have been nominated for a seat on the USA Rugby Board of Directors. I would push hard for this stakeholders group if fortunate enough to be selected for that seat.
Here’s the problem mate. Dan Lyle and his employer United World Sports (the so-called Varsity Cup) are DIRECT & RENEGADE competitors to USA Rugby’s Collegiate playoff system. This renegade competition has done untold damage to the very thing that USA Rugby is desperately trying to promote – a vibrant and competitive collegiate rugby playoff – the likes of which should be seen on broadcast TV by millions of Americans.
So instead of having a magnificent final four of CAL, BYU, Saint Mary’s, and Life this very weekend we are stuck with a D1A final of SMC vs. Life and a “Varsity Cup” final of BYU vs. CAL. Both these competing “finals” featuring the same exact teams FOUR YEARS RUNNING.
That is four years of tremendously competitive collegiate rugby flushed down the toilet. Imagine how diluted March Madness would be if Duke and Kentucky decided to toss their toys out of the cot and form a rebel Basketball Varsity Cup. This is exactly what Cal, BYU, and United World Sports have done to collegiate rugby in the USA.
Why is this so important? Because big-time collegiate rugby is the holy grail for growth of rugby in America. The US collegiate system is the envy of the world and if rugby can ever get it’s arse in gear and attain NCAA status (and the scholarships that come with it) for rugby then Katie bar the door. There is not a country in the world that could compete with that, they would all be fighting for second place.
Imagine 20 to 30 prominent American universities all offering high performance rugby programmes; each of which offering full rugby scholarships to 20 young rugby players. Imagine the incredible competition that would evolve between these teams, athletes and coaches – all driving each other to get better and better. By necessity a uniquely American rugby flair would evolve out of these competing institutions. Kids from all over the country and indeed the rugby world would be scrambling to grab one of these coveted slots. Take a scholarship sport – ANY SPORT – and you will find kids from all over the globe that have taken up those scholarships, contributing to the diversity and betterment of the sport in the USA. Imagine the very best young American athletes combining with a sprinkling of Kiwi, Aussie, English, French, South African, and Argentinean rugby athletes.
Imagine the revenue that could be generated by a true Sweet 16 of top-level collegiate rugby, all on the same level of today’s BYU, CAL, SMC, and Life. Imagine the number of Mums and Dads across the country dragging little Johnny down to the rugby fields every Saturday morning with the hope of someday earning one of those scholarships. Imagine the Eagles being able to select the cream of the crop of these 600 rugby student athletes, all of whom have been tossing around a rugby ball since the age of 5 or 6.
Build it and they will come.