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14 December 2005


Surely, the Hewlett Packard (sic) training center is not a full time location but merely a facility rented for a period of time. And since colleges have world class facilities it makes sense to use them. If the price is right.

But what of the financial viability of test matches? What other solutions are there for USA rugby? TV? Sponsorship? The Rugby Channel can't even get 35,000 people to fill out a form supporting the game....Is the USA Rugby hierarchy getting the IRB to lobby for free TV rights from the major rugby tournaments around the world just to get the game seen on USA Televisions? I can see bowling, bass fishing and poker on my TV but rugby has no place? Publicity begets revenue?

Perhaps returning to smaller venues is the best move in years. I recall a US-Canada match in Chicago at a high school stadium where spectators were asked to move to one side of the stadium to provide the illusion of a "crowd". It remains true today. Rugby cannot consistently produce a crowd at its marquee events unless there is another factor involved such ancestry, etc.

Bottoms in seats drive revenue and economic leverage. Where are those bottoms? In the high school programs! Have matches where there are large successful high school level and below programs, i.e. Sacramento, et cetera. Build on your base and reward those who are building the future of the game.

The younger crowd attracts large non-alcoholic concession revenue. Do not mix alcohol and children under 18. Have one wet side and one dry side of the venue. Fix up the women's restrooms and keep them immaculate. Let everyone under 14 in free if they bring a toy or some type of donation to a local charity. Emphasize healthful food and lifestyles rather than red meat and white bread. The world has changed and rugby seems stuck in its own cliche.

Unfortunately, the USARFU has a spotty (I am being generous here) track record when it comes to accommodating locally financially successful events involving national teams. It's a control thing that seems to never go away and let events and traditions grow. This coupled with the USARFU's lack of complete transparency regarding financial operations creates a distrustful and suspicious environment. Why does videotaping and distribution of all USARFU meetings seem like an outrageous idea?

The US rugby community is very deficient in defining itself. Are we to remain the boozy anti-social image bunch which founded the USARFU? Or, are we the youth and collegiate programs?

Kudos to the US Rugby Foundation who got it right 20 years ago despite the efforts of the USARFU to frustrate it at every turn.

Santa Clara sounds nice but no large high school support group, expensive local living costs, stagnant but historical local rugby union, and nice weather. The more it changes the more it seems the same. Whatever.

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