Many readers of this blog, will be 28 years or older. 28 years ago, the first RWC was played. Japan, Argentina and USA were part of the inaugural Rugby World Cup. This is an excellent point in time from which to start a comparison for ‘progress’ in rugby playing nations.
Here are the results, Argy and USA both finished 1-2. Japan 0-3.
Because the RWC results are the only metric we have to measure relative progress to other nations, I fast forward to the RWC 2015 results…
USA: 1-2 in 1987. In 2015, 0-4 in pool play, outscored 83-0 in the 2nd half by the two Tier One countries we played. Lose to South Africa by 64-0
JAP: 0-3 in 1987. In 2015, are 3-1 and the first team ever with three wins not to advance to a QF. . Beat South Africa!!
ARGY: 1-2 in 1987. In 2015 Argentina are IN THE RWC 2015 SEMIFINALS!!!!!!
Wake up USA Rugby Community!!
Despite claims that sound good in the media and to whomever is listening to the babble, there is no progress. We are getting left behind. We have as a rugby playing nation wasted 28 years. Again, it’s no ones fault. There just has been a complete lack of vision, planning, and most importantly leadership at the helm of USA Rugby.
This is the United States of America. We are doormats in no domain. Except rugby.
Here’s what I am doing
I am working with a close group of people, creating a plan for the rugby community in the United States that contains a one year plan, an 5 year plan and a 20 year vision. Not dreams, not hopes, but executable plans. This is a bigger issue than “we should have kicked less than against Japan”. Our problems start at the girls Under 7’s and elevate and are most noticeable at the Eagles level. A global embarrassment.
Within this plan is to create a culture of rugby in this country. Yes, a rugby culture. Grass roots culture. We have a plan to make the USA competitive on the global stage while we simultaneously build this culture domestically. Don’t say it cannot be done. We have thousands of incredibly passionate, hard working, volunteering in rugby in this country.. who deserve a pathway to the culture we all desire. This culture will be the rising water that raises all boats. Quality of play will get better, events will get better, etc.. Yes, professionalism is absolutely part of the program at the top.
This is not time to get caught up in details; trust that I am working with a top combination of rugby guys (all w/ international experience for the USA) who are also proven, and successful business leaders who understand the Executive function in any organization.
We all know this is the right thing to do. Some people’s feelings are going to get hurt. But, they’ll toast us when USA plays in its first RWC quarterfinal.
Hope, But no Expectations
Here is a quote from a wonderful rugby gal… She loves rugby as much as I do and I respect that… She refers to the WSU Cougars (perennial Pac 12 doormats)…
Attn: Nigel Melville.
It is time for you to return to the homeland. You’ve been around for close to 10 years ‘running’ American Rugby and have absolutely nothing to show for it. You have a chance with one of the world’s leading rugby reporting newspapers, “The Guardian”, to tell the story of what YOUR plan is for American rugby. I say YOUR plan, because it is YOUR plan (well it would be if a plan existed). All the marvelous points you make about the plight of USA Rugby, our performance at RWC2015, and the pointing of fingers away from yourself and your group for the results of hard decisions poorly made (or even not made) during your tenure are pathetic and shows no comprehension of the LEADERSHIP required by a CEO at any level. It is not our play that is embarrassing any more, it is our barren leadership.
Oh, darn… dreaming again. But it got me thinking…
This weekend is one of the epic Rugby watching periods of any four year period. This is the quadrennial global version of the Sweet 16 (that’s the USA College Basketball tournament for all you foreigners out there – suffice to say exciting stuff!).
I’ll be watching all four matches on Sat/Sun online on Universal. I’ll be watching Aussie (now the favorite IMO), and check the AB’s to see if they get it together. Can Wales get it together through injury and that devastating loss to Oz last week? And, can Argentina make history and get to a Semi!?
And then I thought about something.. Here I am, once again, turning on my device at 0600 a.m. to watch two other countries play rugby. Sort of like watching other teams in the Super Bowl and thinking ‘My team should be there’.
I am excited to watch the rugby, the contact, try and get a feel for the atmosphere (I always turn it up too loud). But I could give two hoots deep down about who wins.
By now, if you have read any of my stuff – you know that I am an upset, frustrated former USA Rugby player. And, as I have come to find out, there are a lot of people crammed under that roof. From the mid 1980’s to the RWC2015, there are a lot of frustrated people in American rugby. How about, everyone in American rugby!! I’ve done my share (more than I would like w/out action) complaining, identifying my view on the state of things, basically trying to identify all the reasons why we suck. Yes, I said it. We suck. Not the players, not the coaches, no one person. All of us. We suck.
“We suck” because collectively we have allowed over the years for the American rugby scene to deteriorate into its current state. One in which ABSOLUTELY nothing has changed in at least 24 years. Here’s why. If in 1991, I would have been asked about my RWC experience. I would have said,
1991 Player: “You know I am disappointed, and I would be hard pressed to call this a positive life experience’
You’ve read my previous posts and my thoughts on accountability by USA Rugby RWC2015 Team Management and our USAR Board.
My position on the requirement we have leadership at the top levels of American Rugby, and the lack of accountability and honest at the top level is becoming well known.
Yet, some people in the USA still hang to the notion we are improving. Well, the rest of the world doesn’t seem to think so.
This article published today in the Daily Telegraph rates the RWC2015 Teams. One guess, where do you think USA Rugby ranked.
I had an epiphany today about where I belong in rugby at age 54 and have not been actively engaged in for many years. My next post will be about why I am all of a sudden I am so passionate all of a sudden (in short, just sick and tired of blindly accepting mediocrity), and I’ll provide a background behind that in that post.
Today’s post will focus on BIG ISSUES and pose questions, that I want answered. #NoMoreMediocrity
Some people may notice I am slightly frustrated with the state of our national team at the moment. Don’t get me wrong, it is not the losing I mind so much. I have “been there, done that”. It’s a brutal tournament. What I am most upset at is the complete lack of self awareness and honest self assessment in the team management and our senior administrators. I sit in disbelief as I watch/read these interviews… So I thought I’d give myself a shot at answering some of the same questions.
Here is what Coach Tolkin has said during the course of the tournament. The comment on the overall performance just leaves me gasping for hope:
On his team’s World Cup performance:
“I think it has been the best we’ve ever performed. We have been consistent in every game and showed moments of brilliance and periods of good play, unfortunately our game management and other areas let us down.”
TR: Really. Best we’ve ever performed. Not quite. 1987 – Beat Japan. Our “2nd team” lost to current World #1 47-12, and then to England in the final match. The USA had the oldest team in the tournament by far. 1991 – Our “2nd team” lost 46-6 to current World Champion New Zealand (on 2 full days rest), and then 37-9 to eventual runners up England (again on only 2 full days rest). My comments here are not intended to compare the two era’s. Far from it, But, please don’t make blatant comments that sound good on camera or on paper , but are just not true.
I wrote this post prior to the USA v. Japan match tonight at RWC2015. The USA lost another very winnable game. I believe our issues are systemic in a big way. Here is the way the Pool table ended…
11/11/2015. I have committed to not eating today – so when USA Rugby wins tonight I can eat my words from last night. And I will, with delight. However; win or lose this evening – it doesn’t change the premise of the discussion.
Ok, so clearly I stirred up a bit of a wasp’s nest with my post last night. I want to make something very clear – I am not posing complaints at any one individual. I am raising some issues that we (yes, the collective “we” who have a true passion for rugby in the USA) must resolve for fear that the ‘definition of insanity’ will rule, and we will just continue with the same old story, same old results. I am also not criticizing any one individual, nor the commitment of any one individual.
I had a pretty amazing day today. Four hours before kickoff, I did not have a ticket to the match. My man, Victor Ubogu and his staff (thank-you Felicia, and his wife Ang) completely squared me away. I got a text , go to such and such address to pick up your ticket… I get there and I peak in and there are some pretty decent former players in there. Two RWC Champions (David Campese AUS, and Chester Williams RSA) and the great Mark Ella who retired in 1984 after leading the Wallabies to a Grand Slam tour of the UK.