A Strong Request to the USA Rugby Congress: Tony Ridnell, Chairman 21

I am making a strong request of the USA Rugby Congress in advance of their July Meeting in Washington, D.C.  My place is in the seat of Chairman, USA Rugby.  It is in no disrespect to anyone else in the organization.  We all have our place.  Please take 20 minutes to view my thoughts.



My subject matter notes for this video (unedited):


2027, HOSTING and compete for a semifinal spot, working back from that… and looking forward over that 10 year time frame we can develop (in conjunction with Strat2020) plans and action cycles to promptly move our union in an aligned direction. This will be a difficult task, and I look forward to working with the CEO and other’s in the leadership to take our union forward. We should have 250,000 players CIPP’d, and have a budget in the Union of $50MM by 2027.

We will be regarded as a world class organization by the global rugby community.

My announcement to challenge for the Chair is bold, but it has to be done. The current Chair should remain on the Board as I am sure at some level there is value to the organization.   He has been described as an ‘accidental leader’. I don’t say this to be disparaging, I say this to simply identify – we all have a place. Mine is to Chair this Union. Will’s may be to serve on its Board, but not it’s Chair. This is a leadership issue, not a financial one at this point.   I want to make clear to everyone, I am not a divisive character, as I have been described… I am a team builder, and have proven success to substantiate this. I have also made mistakes over the years, personally and professionally and I am proud to have learned significantly from every one of them.

Why qualified and uniquely exceptional

  1. Been CEO of TRI quarter century – same size at USAR (28 employees)
  2. Studied this Board/RIM situation for two years, and the sum of all my 56 years of education, business experience, rugby experience, and life experience brings me to the point of assessment that I have to take personal action.
  3. Personal relationships all over the world in the rugby and the business of rugby. Many of these contacts have been detailed in some of my articles.
  4. I am a salesman, executive, leader, and former international rugby player. I understand the game from having played at age 10 in Australia to representing our country versus the likes of the New Zealand All Blacks as well as England at Twickenham. I understand the financial component to running an organization and also the qualities necessary in any organization to bring a world class culture.
  5. I will be able to speak with intelligence and value to anyone in the rugby community at any and all levels on and off the field. If I don’t know something, I will personally know and utilize someone who does.
  6. Unique and creative ideas for targeted, focused philanthropic fund raising as well as corporate sponsorship.
  7. I may not be the best at performing any individual task, but as Chairman I will ensure a team that operates as a World Class organization with a world class culture.
  8. Commitment from having worn the red, white, and blue jersey over 100 times in both 7’s and XV’s to giving our entire rugby community what it needs from the leadership of the governing body.

First 30 days

  1. Announcement to USA Rugby community. Settle the dissension and lack of transparency and understanding. Provide some leadership both domestically and to the global community.
  2. Gather at HQ with DP, Mags, Chad Keck, Chang (if present), Lyle, Nathan?, 2-3 key stakeholders from RBEA, Several engaged congress members (Pape, Lewis, etc..). for 3 days.
    1. Create a mission, vision, culture document to publish to the American rugby community
      1. Will support Strat 2020 but go beyond
      2. 2027 host and competitive in quarter final… men and women… what do we need to work back in all the silos/hills to die on to make that happen. Academies, camps, pro, elite, rep, College, HS, AA’s , boys girls men and women.
  3. Visit RIM HQ get a 100% understanding of what this operation is, assess accordingly.
  4. Immediately engage George Henderson for support from RBEA for operational assistance (i.e. Legal work/inside counsel?   Executive Asst for Dan Payne?).
    1. Ensure that DP and George know that I as Chair support his efforts at RBEA 100% and there will be 100% transparency with this group.
  5. Reach out to leaders at World Rugby and other rugby playing nations for their assessments. Establish contact for future dialogue
    1. Provide confidence to these leaders of USA Rugby’s stability, vision, and accountability
  6. Reach out to American financial stakeholders, and other personal contacts (including several Fortune 500 Chief Executives I know personally), other global rugby sponsors and personally find out the disconnect between USA Rugby and the rest of the world.
    1. Find out what is expected from these financial hitters to create a world class brand, and then create it.
  7. Create confidence in the community to rid the “we/they” culture that currently exists and grows by the day.
  8. Report back to the Rugby Community at the end of 30 days.

I will perform my duties according to the bylaws of the USA Rugby Union. My primary responsibility is to mentor, counsel and hold the CEO to account. My next responsibilities are to ensure proper implementation of the Strategic Plan of the organization and subsequently ensure proper implementation of the business plan of the organization. My job is not to create a for profit entity absent any strategic plan of the organization. That might be a result of a plan, but certainly not a decision for any CEO or Board to make independent of any authorization.

If you would like to contact your USA Rugby Congress Representative, Click this link.

Here is a list of the USA Rugby Board of Directors. I am sure they would like to hear opinions from the USAR Membership

Other Articles I have written on this subject:



  1. Any way we as individuals can reach out to whoever our congress representative is to let them know we support you? I’ve been reading your stuff for a while now and have great confidence that you will do USA Rugby well if given the chance, and help to begin truly growing the game here.l in the US.

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  3. So my big questions is what will be your desired salary and your team’s. As with any organization it should be based on portability.

  4. You have my vote, but in my opinion dump the men’s 15 program for 4 years put the money in to youth rugby returns will be huge.

    • Steve. At not point should we dump the Men’s 15s program. The Men’s 15s program should be the primary generator of Revenues for the Union. The fact that it is not speaks to horrible mismanagement of the brand. Btw, the majority of our Men’s 15s budget does not come from sponsorship (a joke), it comes from World Rugby in grants.

      The Eagles and USA Rugby as a brand must be rebuilt.

      Men’s 15s funds every Tier 1 Union in the world.

      • So tale the money from world rugby and use it for youth rugby. Or does it have to be used by the men’s program.

      • Steve, all World Rugby grants to T2 and T3 countries have to allocated to Men’s HP. Or you lose them.

  5. Reblogged this on Tony Ridnell and commented:

    This is not a “Tony vs. Will” conversation, it is a “Tony AND Will” conversation.

    My intent as Chairman is to work with Will and Chad, and get the proper messaging out to the community regarding all of the Board activities both with USAR and RIM (to the greatest extent possible given there are ‘private investors’). As Chair, I will assess RIM and its entire being, as well as evaluate the performance and results of each employee at RIM, take action, and report accordingly. All this to the extent that USAR is the majority shareholder in RIM and whatever authority the CEO and/or Chair might have to influence the RIM separate entity. I will not do this alone. I will do this in the context of group think, and openness that I have run my business with for close to 25 years.

    I am not looking to destroy the Board, or Kill RIM as many people have suggested. What I have done for two years now is ask questions on the financial viability of both RIM, The Rugby Channel and also the Union as a whole under this unique RIM structure. There have been few satisfactory answers, and the performance of Will, Chad, and David Sternberg on Friday at RBEA only served to provide more fear for what the bad news might really be. The lack of transparency was egregious. The financial performance of RIM is clear sub-par, and when questioned about it, the replies were literally non-existent.

    I have been labelled as divisive. This word does not belong in the same sentence with my name.

    I will work tirelessly to create a world class culture in the USAR organization that will benefit every person in our sport in America.

    The performance of RIM is suspect. I have asked questions about this topic, and thought that the RBEA to be the perfect place to ask such questions of the RIM CEO and Chair. The replies were exceptionally disappointing, lacked authenticity, and clearly transparency was not the order of the day.

    Chad Keck is a brilliant hedge fund/M&A mind (I have seen his garage to prove it!), and Will Chang has proven success making things happen in the sports business. I believe the ‘miss’ in the organization is the leader to bring these powerful pieces together, and at the same time get the messaging out to the community so there is confidence, rather than the dissention and dysfunction that is rampant at this time.

    I ask the USA Rugby Congress to make a bold move at the end of July. The current structure of the By Laws would enable me to gain a Board seat in July. Will could consider stepping aside from his Chairmanship and focus on the deal making he is used to. If that is not feasible, a change in the By Laws can make it a possibility. Let’s be a team, and not let it get to that point.

    We can do this. We all have our place in the puzzle. Mine is in the Chairman seat.

  6. I heard USA rugby is 1 million in the hole because of the costs of running the national team. I also heard one of the solutions is to raise the CIPP dues

  7. Got an answer from Ken Pape stating that “The way the current system is structured it would not allow for Mr. Ridnell to run as this is not the process currently in place. I am diligently working with a chosen few Congress people to change this but it is not likely that we will be able to approve this new process.”

  8. I fully support this move ! My only question is do you think WR would be so quick to grant a 2027 WC to the US right after RLWC is to take place just two years prior and with what looks like a FIFA WC just the year before on North American soil.

    Basically what I’m trying to say is after two years of back to back World Cups being played in America, do you think there is enough money in Americans pockets to dish out a third year in a row. Regardless of how popular league is compared to union.

  9. Tony, I admire your onions!!

    I found this from the USAR Congress meeting minutes this past February in Austin:

    “Will Chang – The social media “noise” has been demoralizing and distracting to the BOD and USAR staff. Congress has the right to remove the BOD if they feel they are being ineffective. So as to officially address concerns, and yet not give legitimacy to social media concerns, I want to call for a vote of confidence in this current USAR BOD. Jeremiah Johnson (Congress rep to Board) asked BOD and USAR/RIM staff to leave the room. In executive session, the Congress voted a majority in favor of the motion: “We as Congress vote to support the BOD.” There were two abstentions and one vote against the motion.”

    I find it very hard to believe that this BOD could have received such a resounding show of support after their dismal performance of late, but I guess this shows that there was very little inertia for change at least back in February,

    You have a steep uphill climb ahead of you. We in the blogosphere can be 1000% behind you but clearly the only ones that matter are the USAR Congress members. I suggest you personally call each and every member and lobby for your position. Ideally this would have been done prior to posting this statement/video to give said members a heads-up that this is coming.

    I think there are 53 members so you need at least 27. How many have you contacted?

    You have my full support but I don’t really matter !!!

    • Ahead of you Appreciate, understand, and am completely aware of the obstacles. This isn’t a one time thing for me. There is a void of leadership so evident at the RBEA confirmed on front of 70 executives, it would be egregious if someone in that room did not stand up and say “enough is enough”. I have wanted this task for some time now. I am committed. Tell your representative. Also, that “support” document you reference is false re: Will’s comment at RBEA. It will be addressed at the next congress meeting.

    • Great idea, Tony please post numbers and names of Congress, it’s like a team as one we are not much together we are powerful.

  10. Tony, “stisou,” baby.

    You laid it out exactly like the mother ship taught you. Your life experience both in rugby and in your company since the Army has honed that message.

    As a guy who left NY as aboy and went to Greece and played football there only to come back to the US to find the cronyism and dysfunction that pervades the sport to this day, we need visionary leadership in these sports here to get them going.

    Good luck to you, old friend. They would be fools not to have elect you.

  11. Pingback: Video (7.7.17): Tony Ridnell on Integrity, USA Rugby Board, CEO Neutering, & Congress making a Bold Move! « Tony Ridnell

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