Video (7.7.17): Tony Ridnell on Integrity, USA Rugby Board, CEO Neutering, & Congress making a Bold Move! 9

This is not a coup, nor a revolution.  This is an opportunity for USA Rugby to ‘put the right players on the field’, in the Boardroom.  I will work with Will Chang, Chad Keck, RIM, etc..  and provide the necessary leadership, culture, and accountability to ensure financial success and on field success More…

A Strong Request to the USA Rugby Congress: Tony Ridnell, Chairman 3

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.

Tony Ridnell

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…

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Attn: USA Rugby & RIM: “Winning is EVERYTHING to a sponsor” & a Question of Confidence at RBEA. 4

Each continued botched move by our Union’s senior leadership and every day that passes without clearly defined vision and methods to get there (through the CEO of course) is a day that every single participant’s rugby experience is marginalized. It is another ‘lost day’ in the development of our sport in this country. More…

USA Rugby Congress member Stephen Lewis – Calls it like it is 1

Without a visionary Strategic Plan, created based on independent audits in various silo’s, (particularly high performance) with strict measurable performance metrics and action cycles for execution, supported by a sound financial plan – there will be ABSOLUTELY NO PROGRESS.  And the cycle will continue. More…

I want to hear “The State of USA Rugby” from Chairmen Chang/Keck. Why not the CEO you ask?… 2

I want to hear from USA Rugby’s Chairman of the Board, Will Chang – on his assessment on the “State of USA Rugby”. I would think such a piece would be found in AGM notes, but nothing is available as there haven’t been any AGM’s in recent memory.  Again, refer to the By Laws.

Regardless, I think it’s time to hear from the leadership. Specifically I would like to hear about the following:

  • Vision for the future of our teams, both Men and Women in both codes and age grades (specifically U/20)
  • What priorities they are placing on creating ‘places to play’ for all the youth coming through (i.e. quality coaching, refereeing, playing conditions, etc..) such that we can compete at U/20 level which clear as day is extremely important moving forward. Club system still in disarray regardless of MLR.
  • I want to hear about RIM and how that ‘for profit’ entity (which has only created competition to those USAR actually would want to partner with i.e., NBC, UWS, AEG, etc…) actually works on behalf of USA Rugby. N.b., there is a well grounded argument that RIM actually acts to the detriment of USA Rugby.
  • Why USA Rugby’s Board, and its ‘financial arm’ Rugby International Marketing (aka RIM) are so poor at executing their fundraising/revenue streams that a significant portion of our coaches and senior high performance managers are funded by private donors/benefactors?

Why not hear from the CEO, Dan Payne?

Normally, I would request such a ‘State of USAR’ piece to be done by the CEO. However, as should be well known by now – he has no authority/responsibility/accountability over RIM or any of the revenue piece of USA Rugby (other than being forced to put his hand out and beg for money from an already tapped out membership).

Here are my thoughts on the USA Rugby Organization Chart and how it is IMPOSSIBLE for Payne to succeed unless he has authority and accountability over RIM

How can the USA Rugby membership request such a statement from Chairmen Chang (USAR) and Chairman Keck (RIM).

P.S. Is this piece too operational in nature? Not under purview of a Director? Too divisive? #marni

USAR org chart

Other Articles I have written on this topic:

On USA Rugby, John Mitchell, RIM, The Rugby Channel, & the Board. Reply

I wonder if the likes of Chairmen Chang and Keck, and Marni Vath watched the debacle of USA Rugby vs. Canada today. I doubt it, but if they did – perhaps they might note the horrific state our Union is in. Note, it is not about the players on the field – but the fact that over the past 10 years, and at this current time – have no viable vision, let alone a plan to support that vision. We are woefully mismanaged financially. What can we do with this rudderless ship? Anyone who takes away any significant positivity from today’s match for the USA should consider raising their standards and expectations.

But remember, we have RIM and The Rugby Channel.  It’s comedic really.

Tony Ridnell

In a calamity that could only be described as “Melvillean” in nature, USA Rugby head coach John Mitchell has seemingly made his 4 year commitment/contract disappear.  The announcement of Mitchell signing on as “Executive of Rugby” for the Super Rugby Bulls franchise really has come as no surprise, as rumors have been circulating to this effect for months.

I understand that “sports is a business”, what I don’t understand is how people that sign 4 year contracts and ‘commit’ to take a national team through a complete Rugby World Cup cycle, simply get to walk away.  Rumors were already circulating approximately two months ago when USAR CEO Dan Payne requested that Mitchell domicile in the United States.  Mitchell has lived in Pietermaritzburg, RSA during his tenure as USAR Men’s XV Coach and has rarely been seen at any non USA Eagle events that should mandate his presence.

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