Regardless of opinion or feeling of today’s ‘retirement’ announcement by USA Rugby Board Chair, Will Chang; the American Rugby Community has cause for extreme concern, yet also extreme optimism. The departures of RIM’s leadership (the CEO and Chair), and recent mass resignation at the USA Rugby Board level come at a time when the NGB financial standing is at its most precarious.
These current weeks will prove to be the nadir of USA Rugby’s governance – and these times shall pass. Come July – September, there will be an entirely new leadership team assuming the roles at USA Rugby, and also at RIM in whatever form that entity survives.
Future Governance – Hard Yards Ahead
The future governors of USA Rugby must be ready, willing, and able to work hard yards in the Boardroom. For the immediate future, Board work will require literally full time effort. There can be no more “Remember, I have a real job” ethos, prevalent at the Board level for years, regardless of resume or title. Any person assuming a Board seat must be 100% committed to resurrecting USA Rugby and doing whatever it takes to succeed through their personal ability/resources and performance in a team environment. A culture of transparency, openness, and honesty must be developed, and worked through the organization at all levels.
A leadership group will come together over the next few weeks/months. That group must form a world class team to effect the transformational outcomes that our community deserves.
Strategic Plan: The single root cause of the governance issues we face today is the continued failure of the Board to implement and execute a strategic plan as they are required by the Bylaws. Lack of that plan is also a major contributor to the negative banter on social media, and at nearly every level of rugby in America. A well-articulated plan would provide guidance and confidence to the USAR constituents.
CEO complete financial command/control: The commercial arm of any entity (profit or non-profit) must be under the direct command and control of the Chief Executive. It was carved out of the CEO’s authority by the creation of RIM and it is the major cause of the financial debacle now upon this Union. I hope any new Board member would work with Congress to ensure financial control is returned to the CEO.
It will take a leadership group committed to each other, the Union, and the game itself to bring us out of this trough. It can, and will be done. With Chang’s departure, USA Rugby’s Melville phase is deemed over. The Union, its staff and its governors can move with a fresh energy, spirit, and ethos.
We should look forward to the opportunity to make the RWC 7s a huge success, but more to the post tournament governors who will chart the course and vision from now, through RWC 2027 and beyond.
Other Articles I have written on this topic: