ProRugby: Tweeting for Stadiums? 1

There is something wrong with this tweet.  It’s now been ‘liked’ by over 25 people and retweeted as many times.  It symbolizes so many things wrong with the way we look at rugby in America.  First, the thought that a ‘Professional’ entity (league, company, whatever) would tweet out a message seeking help to find facilities in three of the major USA markets is disturbing.  I am sure the people who ‘liked’ this tweet have the attitude, ‘gee, isn’t this cool, ProRugby is reaching out to the community to try and find venues for next season’.  Fair enough, and I appreciate the naïveté. Personally, I’d use the ‘hate’ button if it were available.

I predict this league will not be around for Season 3.  In the tweet rampage of ProRugby over the past 24-48 hours, the designated tweeter advised that the league had paid over $4 Million in player salaries last year, defending its position as ‘The’ American professional rugby league.  If rumors are true, there may have been $4 Million in contracted salaries, but from what I have heard from players, administrators, and other vested parties (i.e. commentators), there are a lot of unpaid bills from the inaugural season.

The sanctioning of this league by the former USA Rugby CEO and Board, was made with very little to no due diligence to the league or the fiduciary responsible individual, Doug Schoninger.  As a rugby community, we are about to see the results of this lack of planning and foresight.

ProRugby seeking event venues raises a point I have been making for the past year regarding the direction USA Rugby must take in order to attempt to achieve competitiveness with the rest of the world.  This direction must come from the ‘yet to be published, and recently scrapped’ Strategic Plan that our former USAR administration initiated at the very end of its tenure (after working for 10 years without one!).   Very little guidance was given for ‘conditions of satisfaction’ for the plan, and new USAR CEO Dan Payne pronounced the plan dead on arrival.  

So, ProRugby finds itself trying to survive and make multimillion dollar decisions regarding places to play, player contracts, etc.… still with no overarching plan on how ProRugby should fit into the American rugby landscape which would be dictated by the Strategic Plan. The lack of rugby community engagement by ProRugby is well documented, and it is my belief this crucial error will be the death knell of this version of professional rugby in the USA.

The fact that a tweet was recently sent out seeking venue recommendations is a clear indication of the shambled state of our first professional venture and USA Rugby with no Strategic Plan.

Dan Payne has the right idea; he is collaborative, and willing to right the many wrongs of our past administration.  He has inherited a mess.  It is my hope he can drive the new Board and his stakeholders to create a visionary Strategic Plan that lays the foundation upon which we can build success at the top levels on the field, and to create monetization and growth possibilities off it.  Nothing sustainable can happen with rugby in America without it.

We need a professional, top tier competition in America.  Once the Strategic Plan is written, implemented, and executed, we might have a chance for such a top tier competition to succeed. 

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