I decided to spend a mid-August weekend in Blaine, Minnesota to watch our top clubs play in the 7s National Championship. I had no expectations going into the weekend, I just wanted to check it out, watch some good rugby, see some friends, and meet some new ones.
I had no expectations, yet I still managed to be underwhelmed. I played in this event 6 times, and always marveled in the early ’90s what a small event it was for a National Championship. We have no excuse for this being a small event now.
I estimate a maximum of 300 people attended that were not involved with teams as a player/coach, or direct supporter.
300 spectators. At a USA Rugby National Championship event.
The expectations of the American rugby community for our National events are at deplorable levels. There has just never been anyone to say – “Hey, let’s make this a real event, that people want to attend, because it’s fun, it’s entertaining, and it’s American Rugby”.
32 teams played in this tournament. The rugby was terrific! It was not HSBC circuit quality, but it was fun, entertaining, and it was ours. American. Men and Women. The commitment of the players was inspiring at every level.
If this event were something worth looking forward to, we must be able to get 2,000 people to attend. There was ZERO pre-tournament publicity in Minneapolis prior to this event. If we put a tournament on that was ‘quality’; i.e., had simple things:
- A public address announcer
- A quality method of keeping track of matches, etc…
- More places to enter the event unpaid than paid
- The basics.
None of those basics were present at this event (minus some public announcements the last two hours of the event). The location was fine. Centrally located, perfect conditions, excellent amenities for players, and a colossal failure and missed opportunity to sincerely promote the sport of rugby in this country. The amount of ‘youth’ rugby at this event was negligible at best.
Excellent conditions at the National Sports Center in Blaine, Minnesota for tournament participants
Marketing? I thought USA Rugby had a Marketing Guru on its Board
A simple Facebook targeted advertisement costing $250 would get 50,000 confirmed ‘looks’ at the chosen audience in the Blaine, Minneapolis area. It works! Simple, but apparently ‘event promoters’ can’t even figure out that marketing technique.
Mentioning the Board of Directors, none of them were at this event, and only 3-4 congress people to really witness how low our standards are for events at USA Rugby.
USA Rugby Events as a Business
Staying conservative, with a small amount of marketing and more advanced announcement (only by a few weeks) – I estimate 2,000 people minimum could/should attend. If potential spectators had a quality event, they would easily pay $20/head per day ($30/2-day pass). For me, that is approx $60,000 in missed revenue opportunities from ticket sales alone. Add in licensing, increased local sponsorship due to this festival atmosphere would generate over $150,000 in revenue. The atmosphere at the NSC in Blaine with 2,000 people, music blaring, etc… would be fun. And the event could grow, year after year. With outstanding atmosphere, will come sponsorship for the individual event. I saw little evidence of local specific event sponsorship.
The Emil Signes Cup, now representing the USA Rugby Club 7’s National Championships. “Without Women’s 7s there would be no Olympics, and w/out Emil Signes, there might not be Women’s 7s”.
Note, I haven’t even mentioned the down time of The Rugby Channel during the weekend, another entity brought to us by “RIM”.
I was told by one of the ‘event directors’, “this is an expensive event to run”. I offered my suggestions above
Eagle #168, and 4-time USA Rugby Club 7’s National Champion, MVP 1990.
Other Articles I have written on this topic:
- USA Rugby Congress Votes w/ Strong Majority to Maintain Status Quo
- Video (7.11.17) TR on “Winning” in American Rugby. On & Off the Field
- Attn: USA Rugby & RIM: “Winning is EVERYTHING to a sponsor” & a Question of Confidence at RBEA.