Strategic Plan: What should USA Rugby Consider? (Part 1) 7

It’s fascinating.  So many people have so many ideas; new college leagues/divisions, ARC will help Pro rugby in the USA, completely abandon the national teams, et al…everyone has an idea. Some are good, some great, some shocking, but in the end…

…In the absence of a strongly vetted Strategic Plan issued by the NGB USA Rugby,  every single one of these ideas stand to fail.  Reason…because mature organizations don’t allow free-for-alls within their borders.  And, this is a free-for-all.

It will only end with the execution of a powerful and well aligned Strategic Plan.  Here are a few ideas I have regarding the content/construction of such a Plan. It should include, but not be limited to:

  • Top Tier Competition / Openings for professional competitions and franchises (see “Structure/Organization” below”)
  • Pathways for Players and Clubs  (dual track academy/university programs)
  • Result of Comprehensive Audit of all Clubs/Colleges/Programs in the USA. This is a membership audit.
    • We must know who plays (and played), when, and where. We must recognize all potential members (not just current players) to include all past players, fans, and find our future fans.
    • Results must include retention data, suggestions for improvement.
    • Encourage Men’s and Women’s clubs to merge when applicable for the ever important economies of scale.
    • We must describe to clubs what they look like relative to others, assist them to decide what type of club they want to be, and what participation do they want to have within the new structure that will exist utilizing hubs/major markets.
    • Encourage clubs to partner with clubs of other demographics (i.e., top level clubs creating partnerships with youth/HS/College programs).
    • Encourage SBO’s to run/facilitate all rugby in a particular state (realistically this will not initially include College or Club Rugby – but should later to ensure accountability for the growth of our individual “Performance to Participation” pyramids.
    • Use these results to draw investment into focused/concentrated and organized geographies (major hubs/minor hubs)
  • Results of Comprehensive Audit of all High Performance Program’s (M/W).  This will include scrutiny of budgets, spending (and overspending to budget!) and comparison to on field results.
  • Results of Comprehensive Audit of all issues related to gender equity.
  • Result of Comprehensive Audit regarding the establishment and future viability of RIM.
  • Immediate initiation of a program to win the RWC 2027 Host bid. A massive pay day awaits
  • Must clearly enunciate the vision and the mission of the organization.  All USAR programs should support the mission of the organization.

The Plan must go out to independent, top level Sports & Business executives for vetting/evaluation/recommendations/amendments before it is implemented.

This article is first in a series of my thoughts re: Strategic Plan, Structure/Organization, Pathways, Finance/Funding, and some other ideas (for example…reigniting the Can Am series to include men/women, U/20’s in a festival home-and-home environment that is profitable, every year. Let’s utilize this natural rivalry! For on field, and monetary gain).

Other articles I have written on this subject include:



  1. Tony,
    Couldn’t agree with you more, fail to plan, plan to fail is something clearly recognized in highly successful organizations.
    This lack of planning and clear vision cascades down through to all levels in the organization!
    Thanks for your efforts to try and forge a path forward and bring some professionalism and accountability to US Rugby!

  2. The structure for the future needs to be determine from USA Rugby as they are the governing body. Then funds that flow out from USA Rugby at the time need to go to support the national team and youth level clubs. Yeah, until we become flush with cash I just don’t see national monies needing to be spent outside of those two venues other than officials.

    Club level retention, I personally still have a lot of years left as a player and do not want to coach any time soon. But youth level coaches are required for us to release the Kracken!

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  6. I try to keep following Rugby in USA. I spent short time there 10+yrs ago and did a bit of coaching
    As an outsider it has been a little confusing to follow all the Pro rugby dealings etc though one you get “big names” and people with professional interests, trying to push models based on long standing ideas based in other countries things can go wrong very easy.
    even just the rugby side of things as laid out and promoted by World Rugby doesn’t work across the board you need to address things in a way you want not how some someone else views it

    It has always amazed me how many teams there are in USA and how they don’t seem to really improve in standard. you have probably the best facilities for training , a huge sports interest in a lot of sports and a lot of athletes, so you should be able to put out some quality players across the league structure yet when i see any games on Youtube even at national level you see a few that have class and a lot that can make very very basic mistakes.
    That really boils down to coaching at club level and not having lower level clubs continually pushing the higher ones to improve enough,

    USA rugby with its push for professionalism always seems to many outside as trying to build a pyramid from top to bottom not the other way round and getting aging players from other countries to come play isn’t going to improve your standards having a Part time ex all black coach won’t suddenly improve standards unless the player pool has the skills, and is being pushed to stay better by a lot of others after their position….
    you could probably see improvements by getting experienced club standard coaches (not necessarily the ones with a IRB level?as they are very often very inexperienced) from middle of the league structure levels in UK or any bigger rugby nation and put them in a league or 2 down from the top in USA and you will see huge improvement which will then have a knock on effect…the trouble is clubs don’t want to pay even the basic costs for a coach to cover traveling to mexico / canada to renew visas, or cover basic living costs. but are keen if a coach wants to pay it all themselves.

    Maybe Funding and assistance should go to lower level clubs that have the chance of an experienced coach rather than Funding top flight coaches for a large salary who only wants more names for a resume and only hovers around the top team.

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