When Rugby & Business Collide: @USARugby meet @TRInternational 9

I first started writing my blog in 2014 prior to my re-engagement into Rugby (the RWC 2015 debacle vs. the Springboks). The topics then were usually the chemical business, and things we were doing at TRInternational. Boring stuff for sure, but I enjoy the writing. As many know, I have re-directed my efforts to the rugby space trying to engage the question, “Why has the sleeping giant (i.e. USA Rugby) not awakened yet?”.  Anyone who’s followed my writing knows where that has led.

Recently, I have strongly called for the resignation of any USA Rugby Board member complicit in the PRO sanctioning decision. What will come out with any review is that there are far more reasons the Board should be parted with (i.e. the “RIM” matter, and  the lack of ensuring compliance in the Unions by-laws regarding the construction and adherence to a Strategic Plan), to name a couple.

Coincidentally, today we had our annual ‘all company’  TRI Strategic Plan rollout.  I thought I would share a few of the slides.  I am the founder and CEO of TRI, and in 2014 turned over the day to day leadership of the company to Megan Gluth-Bohan.  She made the presentation today with zero input from me; and listening to her I found some remarkable similarities for the things I/we have been calling for from our Board’s leadership at USA Rugby.

Here are a few of the things Megan spoke on today, that could be applied to our leadership and plan…


At TRInternational, we recognize clearly that not everyone at our company will ‘agree’ with the plan.  Certainly not everyone involved in the rugby space in America will agree with Dan Payne’s plan either. What is certain however, is the success of any plan depends on gaining 100% “alignment” from the participants.  Once Payne issues the Plan, it will be important for the community to align, yet still not necessarily agree.



I’ve written ad nausea about the need for plan, action cycles, execution, assessments, and then for constant evaluation, re-assessment and tweaking.  I am at a loss how PRO could be sanctioned, and RIM developed and created in the absence of a Strategic Plan. That this has occurred shows negligence.  Looking closer, the Board does not have the rugby knowledge to be negligent; hence, it isn’t really their fault.  As a Board member told me, “We just leave it all to Nigel”.

In December of each year, TRI’s executive team reviews our Strategic Plan, and creates our new plan moving forward.  In January, Megan (our President) gets the entire company together and briefs:

  1. What’s the purpose
  2. What did we do in 2016
  3. What is our Strategic Plan in 2017
  4. What’s new in 2017

And next year, we will do it all again.


Megan asks each member of our team to verbally commit to their individual alignment to our plan.


Bravery:  It will take tremendous courage, and bravery to execute on what I hope is an aggressive strategic plan coming soon from CEO Dan Payne’s office.   It will take conviction, and all the business skills our Board were selected on.  They have not shown these traits in the past, I hope Will Chang can show the way.


Great quote from Megan today, “We cannot be a mediocre team, that talks about being World Class. We just must be World Class”. 

Our success and character is based on our results and what we ‘do’, not what we intend.

If USA Rugby had a plan of any substance in the past 10 years (as the By Laws command); there would be performance metrics (I.e., results) that could be measured and assessed, and decisions made accordingly. This is the Board’s responsibility to govern. Every Board member who were complicit in the ‘we leave it all to Nigel’ conversation should remove themselves.

Today, I felt my business world and my rugby world collide.  This is important stuff; the leadership at the national level.  Without it, all the great work being done by so many great people is diluted.

Other Articles I’ve written on these topics”

  1. My Aviva Premiership Rugby Weekend & a question to Eddie Jones
  2. USAR Board of Directors: No Plan for 10 years, No Accountability.  Time to go! 
  3. PRO Rugby and the Melville/Latham Legacy. It’s not good. USAR Board of Directors needs the Swamp drained.


  1. I see your point Tony. That is why i raised the last publicly available USA Rugby Strategic plan of 2012/13. It may have wishes and faults but it was indeed a path to follow. Maybe there is one know one, in Dan’s mind or not, but the fact is that USA Rugby needs one.
    The sanctioning was not the real problem, from my far far away land humble opinion. Doug was the only one that was brave enough to put his money where his mouth was, showing a conviction, decision and action, not seen anywhere around the USA Rugby community. There where no other serious proposals around the table. Everything else was bs. We are not going to argue about that, aren’t we? Facts are facts and the fact is that there was a will, with all the ups and downs that we may have seen in the past few months. Something was or trying to be destroyed and replaced by……nothing? Im very sorry but during my 20+ as a manager, if an employee complained about something that was not working, he/she should bring a parallel solution/idea/proposal…..I firmly believe that that is the way to make things/companies growth. We have heard a lot about how PRO has not achieve many things, or many pending bills, or un paid venues, players, etc. My real question is know, who is going to step up and sort this out. I perfectly know and everybody does I think, but this is the moment where leadership must move forward. Sorry for my lousy english.

  2. Sergio, never apologize – and thanks for taking the time to read/comment. All I can say is the 2012/3 document you refer to is not a plan at all, but a ‘report card’ that is called a “plan”. That may sound harsh, but that’s the way I read it. Look, we have a choice – we can continue to be mediocre, with the ways things have happened with the people that have made them happen or we can strive to be World Class. If the plan wants me to be aligned with USA Rugby being World Class in everything we commit to, I’m in. If not, I’ll continue to fight until it does.

  3. Good Morning Tony & Readership,
    From Sydney, 7.30 AM on Friday 6/1/17.

    A Healthy and Prosperous 2017 to you and family!

    I completely agree with your views. Metaphorically and realistically speaking, a ‘rudderless’ ship hardly ever finds a good port for mooring! Let alone without a proper map, campus or sextant?

    Quite often we hear the management mantra: For an organisation to succeed, its Directors must have some ‘vested interests’. YES, of course, nothing wrong with that, yet when a Board becomes the favourite pit stop for a “feeding frenzy” (whether that is business recommendations, commissions, travel benefits, entertainment allowances, drinks, meals, gifts, etc.? We have other sports as the best example of that…

    This is also known in common parlance as “the gravy train”, then we have a serious problem for a sport which is supposed to be based great values and principles of generosity, cooperation, solidarity and ‘fair play’.

    I must shock you and others, I knew of these symptoms within the USA Rugby ‘inner sanctum’ looking the long time ago. Remember, we have a few common friends that have been near this theatre and share our views. The Internet doesn’t let the news get too old, does it?

    World Rugby, Australian Rugby Union, England RU, Argentine Rugby Union, Chile RU, Canada RU, Spanish Rugby Federation, Italian Rugby Federation have in common a culture of self-perpetuation and endemic abuse of privileges. This is our ‘Aristocratic Legacy’.

    In my not-so-modest point of view, the ONLY way to clean the slate is “to clean the slate”. Appoint an autocratic Administrator and re-build it from scratch (a real start up with New or Old philosophies, that work for the majority, not the inner sanctum minority).


    The Rugby Business must be run by ‘business experts” Highly experienced MBA’s (preferably a 60 y.o. or older) that “have done it before with any sport” (with or without rugby experience)

    The Rugby Game, must be run by those that have “Coached Rugby for more than 10 years at representative level!

    The Rugby Show, must be run by Entertainment Professional and Events Experts.

    POLITICS? What politics, leave that to NIGEL, We want success and successful outcomes,…bugger the politics! Compete and WIN!

    All the best,

    Enrique Edgardo Rodriguez Basi. TOPO
    Triple Rugby Union International (1977-1991)
    Argentina – Tahiti – Australia (42 test caps)
    Co-Founder & MD, Australian-Argentine Business Council
    [AGENT OF CHANGE = ‘I change first’]

  4. Pingback: USA Rugby Congress member Stephen Lewis – Calls it like it is « Tony Ridnell

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