Momentum is building in the camp of rugby in America. A number of things coming together, all within a few weeks;
- MLR kickoff a month away
- The Championship weekend in early March (Men’s 7s in Vegas, and Men’s XVs in ARC in Uruguay)
- NBC Sports has made huge announcements re: Domestic & International exposure
- Women’s XVs tests coming vs Black Ferns & Red Roses (possibly in combo w/ Men’s matches)
- ESPN announced yesterday its partnership with MLR.
So much more. Great things are happening.
Personnel Changes at RIM – first domino’s to fall
By now it’s no secret we’ve reached a challenging state financially at USA Rugby. Accordingly, the Union announced today significant personnel shift’s in its majority owned commercial arm, Rugby International Marketing, LLC (RIM). The resignation of CEO David Sternberg was made public, following the resignation of Chairman Chad Keck over a week ago. Pam Kosanke assumes the role of Chair; Jon Bobbett and Mark Lambourne replace Peter Seccia/Keck as RIM Board members.
Kosanke, Bobbett, and Lambourne are all extremely committed and talented individuals, each of them with significant strengths in various commercial aspects. Their proven commitment to USA Rugby is unparalleled, again each in their own unique way.
Along with Dan Payne, these 3 will ultimately be responsible for what RIM ‘looks like’ moving forward. We should have confidence in their decisions, and look forward to their creating a stable financial environment.
These personnel changes at RIM mean little to the Board leadership malaise that still exists at the Union itself. Vice Chair Keck has been voted 24-14 (8 absent) to resign; a majority, but not the 66% required to recall. Keck’s continued service must be considered lame duck status, and RIM’s creator and founder, USAR Chair Will Chang must be in a challenged state. House money is on both of them leaving after RWC 7s in July.
USA Rugby New Leadership: A “Blue Ocean” of Opportunity!
These changes; RIM’s new state, the opening of numerous Board Seats (King and Kimmett are up in July as well), AND the recent resignation of USAR CEO Dan Payne literally creates a ‘Blue Ocean’ of opportunity for the new leaders of the Union. I refer to the new CEO, the new Board, as well as what may be assigned the role of Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) that may ultimately replace the RIM role.
Governance! The Boring Stuff
The new leadership must focus on governance, the boring stuff. Governance includes the #1 mandate of the Bylaws to the Board – implement and execute the Strategic Plan and Commercial Plan of the organization on an annual basis. We have not done that in over a decade. Create a plan, go for it! Then fund it. We will marvel at the results of this successfully executed project.
Without the inherent conflict of interest present in the majority of RIM’s transactions (see Eagles matches hidden on The Rugby Channel instead of allowed free on ESPN), all potential benefactors to USA Rugby (whether corporate, individual, major donors, etc…) can offer assistance in an aligned way. No more will a potential sponsor offering goods and services be told, “We need the cash only”. Major Donors will be able to get behind a value added program for access to events, teams, and programs. Sponsors can have confidence their valuable dollars are being spent according to a sustainable plan. Connectivity between rugby related individuals and entities will increase exponentially, creating more commercial opportunity and ultimately larger budgets for USA Rugby teams and programs to operate.
A Rare Opportunity – Create the World Class Leadership team
It has not been this way, for a very long time – if ever. With the openings presenting themselves in the leadership of USA Rugby at all levels, we have an opportunity to create a World Class organization, capable of performing its simple mission to the highest of standards. 1., Put out competitive National Teams, and 2. Provide Member Services and Programs.
Once again, Congress and USAR’s existing leadership have an opportunity to allow transformational change for our NGB. We encourage you. World Class.
Other posts I have made on this topic: