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20 August 2007

Comments

Just when I thought this was almost over it gets worse.

If we could only blink and have these pool rounds over and this lame coach gone.

I started out thinking the overseas guys were getting a bad rap, now I'm convinced they will leave us holding the bag.

We should be pissed that he isn't being managed. The chairman or ceo should have this clown on the carpet.

Just when I thought this was almost over it gets worse.

If we could only blink and have these pool rounds over and this lame coach gone.

I started out thinking the overseas guys were getting a bad rap, now I'm convinced they will leave us holding the bag.

We should be pissed that he isn't being managed. The chairman or ceo should have this clown on the carpet.

I heard those stories also, but lets not go there.

Why provide him the cover. This is about our team's disorganization and the fact that we are paying him 150 grand to produce this mess. Our players aren't great, but they are better than how this team has played.

I care and so do a lot of others. This must be a legal matter. He appears he speaks like a jerk in the media as well as in the office.

I heard Brian Lowe ask Melville about these rumors on a pod cast and he ducked the question and the interviewer let him off the hook.

It will be interesting to see what comes out after Thorburn is gone after the World Cup. It might draw a spotlight on the new board.

Kurt, I'm confused as to your position, pro-Thorburn/IRB, or anti?

USARFU is a joke. Has been for 20 years. The IRB got pissed that USA Rugby was under the thumb of Jack Clark, and his overwhelming cronyism. (How many times did Naifeh's WEST select win the ITTs without any Eagles on the squad?) So the IRB took over, and good for them, b/c they see America as the next big market for the sport. Unfortunately, American Rugby leadership fears change.

The NA4 has produced the best team seen in the US. Support them.

Kevin Sullivan has twisted the lid, and I am going to open the jar.

One of the great unexamined historical deals in USA Rugby history is the deal Jack Clark brokered with News Corp when he sold away the TV rights for USA Rugby for 10 years.

Now to put it in context Murdoch was trying to corner the TV market for rugby union and on the eve of the 1995 world cup final Rupert Murdoch announced he will pay the three Southern Hemisphere nations more than $550 million for the next 10 years of exclusive television rights to their games. This forced the IRB to open the game and the professional era started. At the same time News Corp was signing these three giants Murdoch was throwing some change at the smaller nations with interest most likely to tie up the rights of these teams' Northern Hemisphere opponents, and USA Rugby was one of them. I think it is well established that the deal was for 10 years at $100K per year, but what I am not sure of is where the money went. It either went into Jack Clark's pockets with USA Rugby's blessing because they felt they were going to be able to monitize the broadcast of rugby by signing huge sponsors, or it went into USA Rugby's coffers.

Did Jack Clark profit off the backs of USA Eagles while locking them into a 10 year TV deal that could not be monitized because Fox only put rugby on one of their most obscure sports channel named Fox Sports World and not on their regional Fox Sports Network established to compete with ESPN?

If so, did USA Rugby know it was going to be on such a far outpost of the Fox television empire?

If so, did it set rugby back years as the period between 1995-2005 saw the fragmentation of the cable TV market into 100s of channels starved of content?

Why did Fox not resign the TV rights deal?

Did this deal give Jack Clark unprecedented leverage within USA Rugby?

Or, did USA Rugby get the money from the TV rights deal and spend it on something useful?

Did they spend it on getting 35 board members to meetings?

Did they spend it on board members to go to world cups in 1999 and 2003?

Did the Eagles get any of that money to best prepare for matches?

Did Canada sell their TV rights away during this time to News Corp?

If so, where did their TV broadcast rights money go?

Why doesn't Rugby Magazine or one of the webzines do an investigation into this and inform the CIPP members on the facts?

Why does Rugby Magazine or the webzines never do an investigative piece on something of great significance involving USA Rugby?

Has USA Rugby never done something contemptuous that would be of interest to their CIPP paying members?

Could a 10 year $1 million dollar TV broadcast rights deal turn out to be something bad for rugby in the USA because of greed and maleficence?

If Jack Clark is implicated in this deal, even for just being greedy, is being the coach at perennial national champ Cal enough to keep the rugby press from doing a piece on the mater?

If this was a bad deal all around, can partial blame be on the culture that existed at USA Rugby at the time?

Does that culture still exist where the egregious happening is the norm, like when a guy named Doug Arnot can be the CEO for a few years?

Do you think your local union or territorial union is a microcosm of the culture at USA Rugby? Is your LAU or TU functioning properly or is it a free for all of politics and greed?

Does it feel good to be a pawn in a giant media companies plans to dominate the TV rights of rugby union in other nations?

Do you think people in other nations have been in this position when USA's interests dominated their life, and they hate us a little bit?

Does Jack Clark wear boxers or briefs?

Rugby Dad states:

"the IRB took over, and good for them, b/c they see America as the next big market for the sport."

If the IRB sees the US as the next big market then why is it that the showcase event for our sport is only available on a specialized satellite channel (Setanta), or the internet, or on a delayed basis for select games on Versus.

Is this the way one markets a product to it's potentially biggest new customer so to speak?

The rugby world cup is the proverbial tree that falls in the forest - if nobody is there to see it did it happen?? Well, not here in the US.

So, while US Rugby has it's problems I would say it has a great role model in the IRB.

Hell, the 7's World Cup in 2009 was awarded to the United Arab Emirates - that burgeouning rugby hotbed. That demomstrates the ability of the IRB to build a product!

The good news is, if the Eagles fail to perform (and I am certainly hoping they will exceed expectations) then the general public will not have witnessed it.

TJ, I'm lost ! 2007 please.

Doug, completely agree the IRB needs to better target the American viewer. What is their issue, with not wanting to co-op the US sports fan.


Chuck Norris still says TJ is Da Man!

Chuck wants to know why Kurt and Rugby Magazine has done nothing to investigate exactly what TJ brings up (as do the 7 other readers of this blog).

Chuck is tired of seeing profiles of really ugly lesbians with strange names in Rugby Magazine - Chuck canceled his subscription. Chuck wants to see hot lesbians.

Chuck figures Thorburn is sick of seeing ugly lesbians at work too - he doesn't swear at hot lesbians, Chuck knows this.

Chuck finds Rugby Dad amusing.

Chuck has to sell some stuff on TV.

Write something that follows-up on TJ's article, Kurt. Your weird xenophopic rants are tiring.

I would be interested in Jack Clark's explanation of the Rupert Murdoch deal. If he absconded with monies belonging to the Union, then that should be investigated!!

Sad little site! But so much fun to read, most of you appear to be peeved that someone else is playing in your sandbox, then there are the few who seem passionate about the sport, and then there is Chuck who hides very useful insights in perfect humor.
I again ask that you gutless individuals who are happy to sling mud ‘Man Up’ and use your names and email addresses.
Remember that rumours are just that and think ‘Could you handle the truth’

I believe the BskyB deal everyone is talking about was totally aboveboard. Clark made the agreement but also the Eagles took no money from teh Union. during that time there was a legitimate Eagles program. Remember the Pac Rim?

TJ or Lou C or whatever handle you are using today,


We required the national team to raise their own sponsorship funds. All agreements were between the sponsoring party and USA Rugby, not the national team. All proceeds were collected and stored in the union's bank, the only bank.

We/USA Rugby took our cut of these funds and allocated the balance back to the national team's budget.

Every dime of income and expenditure was and still is carried on the books of USA Rugby and was part of our annual audit process.

The BSKYB agreement was from 1996-2005, JC's term of over in 2003.

TJ making accusations of malfeasance under a phony name is a new low.

Chuck Norris says - Mixed Martial Arts is just like WWE, an American invention.

Rugby is not, and never will be, an American cultural sport. Never.

Rugby is a decidely Commonwealth game - if your money has the Queen's profile on it, you have sports clubs with rugby and cricket on offer.

Enjoy what we have, Yankee brethren!

Chucks reads enough whining on this blog to think he is in England.

Chuck is not xenophobic. Chuck loves that the IRB sends funny talkers to help USA Rugby.

Chuck also laughs at Americans that play a year of "rugby" and become experts.

Chuck has to sell some stuff on TV, kick a dirtbag's @ss, and check on Christie. Later.

Some questions for blogger Kevin Sullivan regarding his recent assertions:

1. "USARFU is a joke. Has been for 20 years."

What sustantive basis do you have for that unsupported claim? Is it that we cannot beat the top tier international teams with an amateur game played with little or no established base within any of our player development structure? Do the math; that's been the case, starting 1/31/76.

Is it because the domestic infrastructure of youth, secondary school, collegiate, club and "professional" rugby, for whatever reason,has failed to develop? That fact has been true back to the day rugby replaced gridiron and the flying wedge on American campuses.

If it is all a "joke", then the joke is on all of us and we all share the blame through every Territory and LAU. It is not just the national office staff and the directors that are responsible for developing our game. We all are responsible. Mr. Sullivan, you (and other accusers like you) might ask yourself what you have been doing to improve the standard you criticise.

2. What substantiation do you have that,"the IRB got pissed that USA Rugby was under the thumb of Jack Clark and his 'overwhelming' cronyism?"

What form did this alleged "cronyism" take? Has any one person kept USA Rugby from advancing? Get real!

Why does all of this accusatory blather summarily get diverted and directed back to Jack Clark --more often than not by alais- users (today's poster boy being "TJ") who likely have never met the man? Jack Clark has been absent from the national organizational scene for nearly a decade. This man has a pretty fair track record on both the domestic and international scenes and, as I recall,one of the top British clubs wanted to hire him to run their program. Moreover,(irrespective of "TJ's" recent unsubstantiated diatribe)no one has yet to demonstrate his fund-raising, teaching, and technical development skills at any level of American rugby. You and many of the alias-users might not know that one of Mr. Clark's alleged "cronies" actually played a fairly significant role in upping the IRB's recent grant to USARFU. Unfortunately,that person is nolonger in Boulder.

Some facts for Kevin Sullivan relevant to his questioned accusation: "How many times did Naifeh's West selects win the ITTs without any Eagles on the squad?"

The answer is ZERO. The West won in 1992 and 1993 under Coach Naifeh. They won again in Long Beach in 1997, but don't think Larry coached that team.

I chaired the national selection panel during the period 1989-92. Those team selections were made by the four Territorial Selectors and the National Team coach. Larry was one of those selectors. At that time and to my reccolection and experience with the Eagles, we were the only international rugby team using that selection process.

The Eagle side that was selected at the 1992 Blaine ITT contained more WRFU players (6) than any USA team past or future. In the subsequent test, Canada beat us 32-9 -- the most lopsided result in the cross boarder rivaly up to that time. During the 34 Eagle test matches in which I was involved as team manager, that was the low point of Eagle rugby.
(Surely, we got pretty well thumped by Australia in Brisbane in 1990, but they were having their way with everyone then.)

In 1993, at the Denver ITT, Jack Clark, in his role as newly appointed head coach, selected the Eagle squad and team. That approach has been and continues to be the norm in virtually every rugby playing nation.

Jack Clark's first 21-man squad selected at the 1993 ITT for the Canada test in Winnipeg contained two Mustangs. It was one of the youngest teams selected up to that point in time.

During the period October 1993 through May 2000, of the 50 test sides that Jack Clark put on the pitch,45 of those teams contained WRFU players, with as many as 6 in the starting 15.

I feel reasonably confident contending that Jack Clark - nor anyone else who previously or subsequently served as Eagle coach - held no bias for or against a particular player because of the Territory he represented,or how well or poorly his ITT team performed. Any bias they may have had pertained to how the player himself performed. As it should be. For those coaches, there was and is too much at stake and too much work involved to have done otherwise.

For the record, I am a former Mustang....co-captianed the first two WRFU ITT squads and was a selector and assistant coach for the following 3 years. We won but 3 games during that period. Nonetheless, each year, several of our players proved capable of playing at the next level and were selected for Eagle squads and some were capped. (Irrespective of the scorelines in our ITT matches.)

Like many others,I have the utmost respect for Larry Naifeh.

A question for Mr. Sullivan: where in lies your evidence of IRB influence, cronyism, and territorial bias? Everyone is entitled to an opinion,and it is easy to raise veiled accusations. But were are the missing facts?

Chuck said "ugly lesbians" huuhuhuhhuh!! lol.

At the end of the day, Thorburn will take his quid and the Eagle coach notch on his resume and move on to some other developing rugby nation or desparate club or franchise looking for specialist coaching...

He is/was in a pressure cooker under enormous constraint, though. I am not sure even Graham Henry could've succeeded in these circumstances. It probably would've helped to garner support rather than spurn it. I think that's the only reason why we all blog about him here...

Any rumors as to who is being considered for the opening after RWC???

Separately, say what you will about Jack Clark but he did do somethings very well. Apart from the BSkyB deal, I believe he brokered (or helped to broker) sponsorhip deals from American Eagle, Reebok, Adidas, and may have played a role in getting the Epson PacRim Cup going. Such was his rugby admin prowess that he was also considered to take over as Dir of Rugby Operations at Bath RFC.

Additionally, like no other, he KNOWS how to coach the converted american athlete into an elite rugby player. Having played with many of his former players and participated in a coaching session he ran, it is without question that he knows how to deliver the simple messages of tactical rugby with urgency. Nobody can argue against the number of rings Cal has.

jumping of soapbox now...

clark bernales
ombac div1 head coach

It is the late summer of 2007 - it is time to move on and look to the task at hand and not rehash things that occurred 5, 10, or 12 years ago - the community must work at supporting the national teams and the club teams here in the US.

For the record, the "old" board was not receiving monies from USA Rugby to go to board meetings. 21 people received stipends from either their territory or LAU to attend those meetings. They got a set amount and any additional expenses they had they paid out of their own pockets. International athletes did receive stipends from USA Rugby to attend meetings; however, there inclusion and subsidy was a requirement of the USOC. Members of the Executive/Management Committee also received stipends. The stipends were approximately $500 to $600 and that paid for flights, hotel rooms, transportation. If anyone goes back and looks at the budgets for the organization during that time, you would find that the Board meeting expenses usually ran about $10K to $12K a year. With the new Board, this number has significantly increased.

Additionally, 35 board members were not flown to the 1999 and 2003 Rugby World Cup locations. Granted, there were two or three Board members who did go over representing the US. They usually tied their trips with meetings with the IRB or with sponsors. However, that was part of their job. Offers of free airfare, hotel rooms, and the like were never made to board members. To put it another way, Board members paid for tickets for the test matches in Ft. Lauderdale, San Francisco, Hartford, Chicago, and Portland. If they went to the UK in 1999 or Australia in 2003, they paid for it themselves. If board members wished to see an international, they had to pay their own airfare to get their along with any other expenses they had. Clearly, USA Rugby was not funneling money to the Board.

One other thing - the IRB only wants rugby to succeed in the US if it is a reflection of rugby in the tier 1 nations. It is not interested in American professionalism - it does not want to deal with a strong player or referee union, it does not want to provide cutting-edge medical care or medical insurance for players, it does not want to set up care for US internationals long after they have hung up their boots, it does not want to deal with contracts that are player-based and not club-based. It does not want to deal with owners of teams that cut their own deals with sponsors and kit manufacturers or state/local governments. It also does not want to deal with oversight by the IRS or by Congress.

Yeah, Thorbs's comments are so negative, he should be in one of those Coors Light ads, like Jim Mora.

PLAYOFFS? YOU KIDDING ME? PLAYOFFS?

Advertisements with hot girls in them are cool. Keep up the good work.

The point of my post was to stimulate a debate on the rugby media’s roll in guarding and protecting the interests of the rugby community, and extensible the CIPP base. I stated the fact that the media never has investigated a very long term financial deal that has been gossiped and speculated about by many in the rugby community. I asked the questions a journalist should be asking themselves going into that investigation, which in my opinion can not be considered accusations, but maybe cuts close to the line in a public forum, but not in a personal discussion. Are comments in a blog a discussion, or is it a publication? That is a separate debate.

Regardless, the reality is that there appears to be a large disenfranchised group of the rugby community that is fed up with years of incompetence and/or possible malfeasance and the press just keep pumping out the feel good press releases that they are fed by USA Rugby, or report on Chuck’s dream girls ad nauseum. From a potentially spurious TV rights deal, to accusations of cronyism, to ineffectual CEO hires, to possibly a post 2007 World Cup era of wasted IRB funds by foreign coaches and administrators that used the event to pursue their rugby careers, and the press is quite the entire time.

USA Rugby is an insular institution with no significant revenue other than the CIPP fees. Because they have no really vested sponsors and no broadcast rights holders holding them accountable for their ability to manage themselves and provide a quality product, they only have to placate the fragmented CIPP membership base, or the people, and the people need a strong inquisitive press. If you are mad as hell and can’t take it anymore, ask your rugby press to hold USA Rugby to the fire, so that they know the future will be scrutinized and platitudes and new era promises are not welcome.

TJ,

All was fine until you suggested a coach and board members were stuffing their pockets, which is a lie.

If Clark likes Billups, Hodges and Lyle and you don't, have at it, call them cronies. You think he didn't raise enough money or inked bad deals, once again, have at it.

You think the CEO's and Board of Directors of USA Rugby have sucked since the beginning of time, say it, no problem.

But you said they were guilty of maleficence, which is a lie. And you sang this lie under the cover of a alias.

You have no cred.

Oh, and one other thing, I likey like the hot girls in the ads.

You question TJ for posting under an alias and slamming Clark etc but what about the rumours being spread by JR, The Whole Truth & Rugby Dad?
Again Chuck seems to have hit the nail on the head, Rugby is not a core US sport and sadly no matter how much money the IRB throws at you if the petty infighting and narrow minded of people on this site is a true indication of the state of US Rugby is doomed
LeeFrances

How many professional players are there in Argentina?

In Argentina there is not even one. Argentina considers rugby to be 100% amateur. But there are many players in Argentina that have contracts with professional European teams. I don’t know the statistics, but I can say that there are approximately 500-600 playing professionally outside of Argentina.

Argentina has well financed clubs with great facilities. Their club championship semis and final draw 15K people or more. They are televised on TV by ESPN and the next day it is the lead story in the every newspaper sports section. All this is without their professional players too, which are in Europe during this time. They are miles ahead of the USA with regards to rugby.

A fine point regarding ARG rugby. UAR is indeed amateur, but like the folks said, the players live a very different life. For the most part, rugby has robust leagues which are very local. The URBA (Buenos Aires metro union) is the best club competition in the country.

Players don't face insurmountable travel unless they play the National Club Championships, or they play on the Provincial side (which are sponsored to a level that guys don't pay out-of-pocket for their travel).

So while it's not professional, the A-side players in First Division teams don't have to unload significant funds just to play the game. In addition, most there can live with family, and if they work day jobs, they get 4 wks off, which is plenty to meet the demands of top-level club (and occasional national team) obligations.

US ruggers on the other hand must travel frequently for national-level events, and do it with only 2 wks off a year, and often unloading several $100s of their own money to make it happen.

This contributes significantly to the lack of continuity in US's elite levels of mens (and womens) rugby. With so many amateur players burning out financially and professionally (day-jobs), the percentage of elite players available will always be smaller than places like ARG.

I have been in Rugby since college (1964). This blog is the first time I have seen the various rumors and allegations directly responded to by some of the people who were supposedly "on the inside." Much more needs to be flushed out by all of this blog's gadflys. The "feel good" Rugby press in the US is not ever going to do any hard investigative reporting about what took place in the past or what is going on now. Once they get at any sensitive truths about the inside dealings at the national level their access would be cut off. Besides, isn't the one Rugby publication we have now owned by some "insiders?"

I find it laughable when a perported insider says "just check the books" or "look at the record." When has the general Rugby public ever had unfettered access to that information?

His CA coaching forebearers' achievements notwithstanding hasn't Jack Clark's performance at Cal been a model for what could be done to create "Varsity" Rugby. Haven't the best USA coaches been American (Clark, Billips and - according to Gainline - the "Americanized" Storer)? While much more is to be done the recent news about first rate facilities at Dartmouth and West Point are good signs

The idea that the Major Rugby nations and the iRB may have real reasons for not wanting Rugby to flourish in the USA is intrigueing. A recent RUGBY WORLD story about the iRB planning for future RWC's, the iRB was questioned for considering (for the sake of developing the Game in important markets) "the likes of" the USA and Canada for future RWC's.

I am beginning to doubt that I will see a USA or even North American based RWC in my lifetime. How about an Americas based RWC? One pool each in Argentina and Canada and Two pools in the US. Some long travel but the longest is north/south, and, at most, only three time zones.

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