An Assessment on the State of the (USA Rugby) Union. Reconstruction Phase Begins – Ross Young 1

American Rugby is a fast moving product.  Recent news about a new interim CEO at USA Rugby commences the rebuilding or reconstruction phase of the Union. It offers a new opportunity to create transformational culture and governance.  My thoughts…

Today’s confirmation of Ross Young as Interim CEO of USA Rugby marks a turning point in the state of the Union, and its friend RIM.  As only few recognized 36 months ago USAR would be at this catastrophic state, here we are. Catastrophic is defined as RIM’s increasingly likely inability to pay the small license fee (approx. $1.8 MM) it owes USA Rugby throughout 2018. The Union uses those funds to execute Member services and programs & attempt to put out competitive National Teams

May 1 2018 should be declared the turning point in governance of the Union.

Mr. Young’s appointment coincides with him also acting as interim GM of Rugby World Cup 7s, LLC.  In English, this means he is running the entire operations leading up to this July’s iconic event.  Ross will be operating the RWC 7s and serving as Interim CEO USAR.  For sure, he will be vacating his position as CEO of ATAVUS Rugby.

Rugby World Cup 7s: Buy your tickets here!!!

“Ross is Boss”

  • 100% standup guy.
  • Bleeds Rugby
  • Literally ran THE RUGBY WORLD CUP companies for RWC 2007 and RWC 2011.
  • President or CEO of ATAVUS Rugby for 5 years. Knows American rugby landscape inside and out.
  • Arguably the single most highly connected guy in American rugby circles, certainly on the global and commercial scale that we desperately need/require.  And, Right Now.


There are conspiracy theories involving ATAVUS and financial motives.  I do not believe these to be relevant. And, I understand why people do.

There is potential that Ross may serve as actual CEO, or better yet possibly, be considered for what must be an upcoming creation of what must be Chief Operating Officer Role at USAR. If that is the case, ATAVUS nor or its owners benefit. They lose a 5 year Chief Executive.   He is plug and play into Payne’s soon departure.   I’ll stand by Ross, anywhere. Even quite late at the ALIBI Room, ARIA Hotel Vegas each night of the 7s.

The appointment of Young has nothing to do with USAR’s failed prior leadership and their desperate attempt to fill development and growth holes through ATAVUS. I did not agree with the January, 2017 USAR decision granting ATAVUS exclusive status as “USA Rugby Academy”. It served small purpose, and created a mess in terms of ‘optics’ in the Academy space. ARPTC, Tiger, NEODA, Stars, etc…. all negatively effected for no reason.  We CAN put the HP piece together

The Reconstruction Phase Begins

Today is a turning point. Young’s appointment must be viewed as the first step in what might be called the “Reconstruction”  of the USA Rugby Union.

His appointment must also relieve Head of Congress Lambourne significant pressure on the unenviable task of negotiating thru Congress and what is left of the current Board to:

  1. Populate the new Board
  2. Select the new permanent CEO

The new CEO and Board members will be held to account to implement and execute a Strategic Plan of the Organization.  It appears that various current governors cite ‘The Bylaws!, The Bylaws!’ in conversation yet fail to recognize the most important one of all to solve our problems (i.e. Strategic Plan) has gone by the wayside for a decade.

Had the Union ever had an engaged Strategic Plan, with competent and/or caring enough to execute such a plan – much of the ferocity and disappointment that exists today at literally all levels; youth to Eagle would subside.

Culture Will Change: We CAN…

All people who interact with the Union deserve the upmost in grace.  We have not had a ‘connected’ culture. The terms comes up in so many conversations.

  • We CAN connect on the global stage.
  • We CAN bring American companies that support Rugby overseas but not domestically into our camps.
  • We CAN develop a World Class Brand.

It’s been noted the American rugby community is starting to ‘eat ourselves’.  We all know we are.  Everyone.  Yes, you too!  A friend today called it Fratricide.

I learned a valuable lesson today as well.  Inserting myself into a Facebook conversation and answering a question I knew far too much about to explain in digital format I responded in a rude an arrogant manner. I apologize for that.  My message stays, but the bravado bullshit was inappropriate.  I’m sorry

Always a time for Unity

Let’s all set an example for each other to consider that ultimately we are all on ‘the same side’ at some level – and must be able to be considerate in the space of Rugby’s values. At the very minimum, a few times a year we all get to share wearing Red, White, and Blue

“Sunlight is the Most Powerful Disinfectant” – ‘A friend of mine’

New leadership will be implemented.  Let’s have confidence in those responsible for making it happen. Patience is called for.


Other Articles I have written on this topic:

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One comment

  1. Pingback: Massive Financial Implications for the Eagles win streak. USA Rugby Must Do Whatever it Takes to gain Inclusion in Top Tier of World Rugby’s “League of Nations” « Tony Ridnell

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