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19 February 2009

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The truth doesn't matter to the USAR leadership. They will continue to take credit for many things they have nothing to do with, whilst at the same time, hiding from the own shortcomings.

Higher taxes, less services, no plan, employee turnover, big payroll, 13th to 19th in world XV ranking, less sponsorship, no reporting, no real elections, no respect for America or Americans.

"Despite the down economy, 2009 attendance all but held even with year-ago figures, according to tournament executives. Meanwhile a nearby motocross event fell 20 percent, failing to sell out for the first time in 10 years."

Where's that twit PITA? I'm waiting for her to chime in and remind us of how 'unsupportive' American rugby players are of our game. Maybe her and Boulder's finest can start taking that accountability for the fact that Sub-Prime Banks had better management than USA Rugby has experienced.

PITA the Twit here,

The stadium was mostly empty. There wasn't a soul in the upper deck. Nobody.

Congrats and thanks to those that made the effort to get to the venue. I believe every other venue on the iRB sevens ciruit is pretty much completely sold out and in some cases within a few minutes of tickets being made available. We still have a long, long, long way to go to get on par with the countries we aspire to be competitive with.

And my comments have nothing negative to say about the superb work Prusmak, Lyle and their staffs have done. And while I'm at it, the USA folks have been, as they ought to be, extremely complimentary about the work that Prusmak and crew have done. And that's both publically and privately. And while I'm sure it has happened, the USA folks do not appear to be taking any credit for the work and successes of Prumak's staff including the Sunday program on ABC. Hope you all watch same, get your friends to watch and send thank you letters to ABC.

Infinity Park is again being used for the men's club championships in May. Let's see if we can fill it up. We are apparently playing Wales in early June in the Chicago area -- Toyota Park. Think we can get 20,000? How about 30,000 a day for San Diego next year? Force more sponsors even in these bleak economic times to take notice of rugby. We need to fill up venues. While 17,000 a day in Petco is good, we need to fill it up. Take a look and college soccer and lacrosse -- every few years they have to move their championships to bigger stadiums because they sell out. Last year, the lacrosse chamionships were in Foxboro and soccer's were in where ever the Ravens play football. It's nice we have found the glass and have some water in it, we need to fill the glass.

PITA

The upper deck at Petco was never on sale in the first place (http://www.usasevens.com/ticket.aspx). Take that at whatever value you like.

I'd estimate that the entire stadium (including the upper deck) was a little over 1/3 full each day.

I'm looking forward to the ABC program but unfortunately Dave Sitton is a terrible rugby commentator. He should stick to U of A basketball.

Those defending the USAR brass are the same guys who got us into this mess. Mess being described as; Doug Arnot, financial troubles, the foreign takeover, congress quitting , over-his-head CEO and out-of-touch Board.

Now if they want to defend USAR, let them. It is well known how they have performed. Let PITA and his crew have their say, whatever comes out of their mouth is politics.

Thank you for the measured response Pita.

I think 30,000 for San Diego next year could be a realistic goal so long as our country does not decline into Great Depression II over the next 12 months.

COnsidering the complete absence of rugby from any mainstream media, I think the Petco showing was impressive. Soccer and lacrosse at least get some TV time and people are at least vaguely familiar with those sports. Rugby is taking the right steps with the collegiate games that will be televised on ESPNU and the SD 7's highlight show on ABC this Sunday.

And while i have your attention, I don't think you can accuse Tom Billups of being a "quitter." He did more with less than any other USA coach in a long time. It was unfortunate that he had to be a casualty, but his abrupt resignation was the only thing that brought attention to the funding and leadership crisis in our board at that time.

If you're serious about improving the game and making strides within our country, I'm behind you 100%. Just don't alienate your biggest source of strength (registered members).

If ABC dedicates 1 hour of their prime sports time to a rugby 7's tournament, I would imagine that same leadership group would have done the same with the World Cup 15's matches.

Our leadership is hiding their heads in the sand, only to pop up when someone taps them on the shoulder. They appear to be still holding strong to their idiotic tenets of LA pro rugby, JC Academies, and other lame ideas?
The ABC deal will provide Melville an opportunity in the States. He will screw that up because he will be somewhere else.

I can't wait until the cesspo..player pool is announced.

Pita,

I prefer it half empty myself.

You guys keep drinking from it, then piss it full and try to pass it off. Then you ask us to drink it and fall in love with the flavor.

Dave Sitton? Really? That is just what the target audience (19 to 30 males) wants is a guy that says things like "This match is going to be a real Donnybrook." or "Gridiron" or references to the Nixon administration...just kidding on the last one. However, can't they get someone young vibrant and compelling to do this show?

Tired of the grid iron references and too.

He is the Jim McKay of rugby, perfect for an ABC audience.

It is truly amazing that people can take a good thing - rugby on ABC 0 and try to find anything remotely negative about it - commentators, attendance, US Rugby ...

Give it a rest guys - this is something that we have all wanted for a long time. Watch it, enjoy it and let ABC know you were there.

Wish you folks could decide on my gender!

Without giving away my advanced age and growing deceptitude, when the Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles, they took with them one Vince Scully - their announcer either on radio or TV -- I can't remember. He viewed his job in LA as one of instructor to the masses in the West of the fine points of baseball. Never condescending in the slightest -- he explained the game. You could, and I did, go to Chevez Ravine in the eaqrly days and observe that hundreds of fans in the stands had portable radios (remember them?) tuned to Mr. Scully explaining what they were seeing in front of them. That's what rugby needs. A supremely knowledgible person who understands what the American public is used to getting on TV/radio and delivering information that explains a new sport without talking down to the audiance but at the same time deliving the expected info on the players, where they came from, what the game is all about, etc.

And my comments today and yesteday in no way are meant to deminish the great work the Prumack crew has done to develop the San Diego event, have it live on Setanta and then miracles of miracles have a hour's summary on network TV. Hats off to all of them. Great work. Continued and greater successes in the future.

Let me also correct several comments about Tom Billups. A person who quits/resigns one job is NOT a quitter. I certainly did not mean to imply that. Tom is a good solid rugby citizen who continues to be deeply involved in the sport we all love and one who made great contributions as a player. He was in a bad situation, which is a gross under statement. Due to lots of critique -- much of it right on the spot -- changes were made including changes that enabled the Eagles program to receive funding although I have no idea how much funding. Although reading these blogs there is major disagreement on how, or if, the Eagles should be funded.

Brother Schram is a dedicated rugby supporter. His sometimes heated demeanor might shake the Congress up. Something certainly needed to rouse them from their slumbers. But the folks in Southern Cal need to make the efforts to get him elected to one of the three seats CS has on the Congress. Action, or maybe a political action committee, would better serve that task then gripping and whining.

Now about filling up that cup.

PITA

Agree with the above post. Spread the word about the game. I'll be enjoying the ABC broadcast on my newly puchased Sony Bravia, which I bought specifically because of their Eagles sponsorship. Every bit helps! Way to go Eagles and good luck at the World Cup

PITA,

Screw the Congress, it's a house of losers. Even the good people have given up. No fight in any of them. I was hopeful for at least one person with balls, but no one has put up their hand.

Ed Schram and Jon Prusmack don't need to be among these losers, they need to go straight to the Board. This is the same way these pretender got seated, why can't successful, longtime, good American rugby men be seated in the same fashion?

Pita- 2008 NCAA Soccer Championships where held in Pizza Hut Park near Dallas Tx,capacity 20,500.

Good name for a soccer venue!

Pita

I agree with the poster who said Sitton is horrible. Call a spade a spade...... The guy is past his prime - did he ever have one?- and my prediction is another job (horrible) in line with the last few telecasts he's done.

Just go to the previous tapes..... it's obvious how badly the guy does RUGBY broadcasts.

And comparing Sitton to Vince Scully is pretty funny......

Dave Sitton is a good rugby coach. He has built a successful college rugby team. Over a 25 year period no less.

He is a very popular announcer of Arizona football and basketball.

Maybe he's not your cup of tea as a rugby announcer, but it seems wrong that guys like Jack McGonagle who have never accomplished anything in American rugby, get on the internet a take a swipe. Oh yea, Old Blue 3rd team coach, sorry.

Just enjoy yourself Dave, don't let the couch potatoes bug you.

No one was comparing Dave Sitton to Vince Scully. A Scully type is what we desperately need. We don't have one -- not even close.


But again, rugby is on network TV in daylight hours -- something we haven't had in a very long time if ever. Watch the damn program, thank the Prusmack crew and let ABC know you watched and enjoyed. Turn off the sound if you don't like the anouncing. Bug ABC to carry the RWC of Sevens from Dubai.

Pita

"A Scully type is what we desperately need. We don't have one -- not even close. "

No one does, now that Bill McLaren has descended into senility.

Dave Sitton is not a good coach. With the size of Arizona University 20K students, and the length of time he has been there 25 years, and the relationship with the university as a broadcast, he has achieved very little. UofA hasn't been the dominate So Cal team for a decade or more. Get a grip guys! Dave is a nice man, but not a good coach or broadcaster. Period.

Hey.... If you want to put negative comments, then be a man about it and put your name attached to your comments. I did. Seems to me that the pussies on this site who don't put their names to their comments have it easy.

I never made comments about Sitton's coaching... I just said he's a horrible announcer.

And it seems to me that the ABC opportunity is a huge one, and it's a shame that ABC and the national audience gets stuck thinking that Dave Sitton is the top American rugby announcer. That is a sad commentary on US rugby if that is the case.

As far as my rugby accomplishments... whatever. I have never claimed to have any.

My suggestion to "Just watch the show" is to post your name, then we can compare who has less.....

Who is Jack McGonagle? And why does he think we care what he thinks?

Well the broadcast went pretty well, and I thought Dave Sitton did a nice job, mostly hosting the thing while the guys like Starmer-Smith called the matches.

Not sure if it occurred in all markets, but in the NY area the first ten minutes were missed due to the NBA game, and so they joined the rugby "already in progress".

The picture and sound was excellent in HD. Certainly made the play look clear and crisp. They also did a decent job of editing to show some really good plays from a selection of games, while also putting some good focus on the Eagles (which they had certainly earned). I think they could really have used more time, but 60 minutes in primetime is a great start.

The commercials in the breaks were a concern however. There were some for USAsevens.com and for rugby Magazine that looked very amateur in production. On Setanta you'd not notice so much, but on the HD ABC station it stuck out. Additionally I'm not sure what it says about how the broadcasters and advertisers think of us as a market, but repeated adverts for Aqua Velva, Just For Men, and Flomax (the drug to stop you pissing every 5 minutes), makes it look like they are expecting purely the 50-75 market to be watching.

I'll be interested to see the ratings, I really hope it's a success, and I was encouraged to hear Sitton sign off by mentioning the upcoming coverage from Hong Kong. No mention of the RWC 7's from dubai though, but HK would be great to see.

My guess is that very little of the advertising slots were sold outright - other than Rugby Mag and USAsevens.com - so that ad inventory is then available in a bid type system. Basically Flomax and Just For Men have bids with the network (ABC and all the ESPN channels) to fill empty slots. There bids are the highest and get the spot. Could have been worse as those are probably a couple of the higher status brands that typically bid for empty slots, which could have been infomercial type products.

The liabilities that Dave Sitton brings were well managed by the director/producer of this show. That was a plus.

Dave Sitton and Gareth Rees did a fine job. The English call was superb, but may be difficult to understand. Vizard is not out of his League with this lot. I found it difficult to understand the Welshman.

WHile it would be nice to have an emerging American color man to spice things up, Sitton is a pro.

Budget commercials and editing cheapened the production, but the good camera work with multiple angles and mostly solid commentary kept me glued to the action.

B for production
A+ for USA 7's

C- to USA Rugby so far in 2009, better than the F they deserved last year.

England's ball skills were phenomenal.

The voice on the Rugby Mag and USA 7's sales pitch was a turnoff. The commercials were pretty bad, they should have known better. Looked like a Wayne's World promo.

I'm not sure how many geographic regions were affected, but AT&T and Time Warner in Austin, TX completely disregarded coverage of the tournament after the PHX/BOS game ended. Instead, it went to some BS show about the Oscars and disappointed all ruggers and rugger fans that gathered at pubs to watch it. Is there a way to find out what happened/why I didn't get my rugby fix?

A few thoughts.

Rugby in HD is wonderful and almost unfamiliar. Could even see the stubble in Ben Gollings's cleft chin.

Higher profile announcers. Sitton indeed has been a servant for the game and knows most of the guys. However, maybe for next year USA Sevens or IRB can find some higher profile folks for the booth?

Maybe do a sideline interview with a famous rugger (Sonny Bill Clinton, Mark Cuban, etc.) maybe do a human interest story in between.

Maybe get a high-profile announcer (like a Costas or Michaels) who might not be a regular to the game but for some reason loves the game and would do it on the cheap.

Womens match: Throughly disappointing, but no surprise. There were more clips of bimbos in bikinis in the stands than the actual woman's match.

Granted, the IRB sold the property to USA Sevens LLC, who in turn sold the TV to ABC.

However, every time the IRB says it supports womens' rugby it takes one step forward, two steps back. Their IOC pitch video featured only one woman -- twice -- and one from a relatively minnow -- Scotland -- because she was down the street from the production company.

This time, they go to the trouble of showing the women's match -- and the announcers said it was "part of the tournament". No names, no final score, just 30 secs of anonymous video.

However, the 1 hr clip show had plenty of shots of the objectified women.

IRB was taken to task by IOC to improve the women's profile. If an IOC voter in the USA saw the one hour show, they might not believe that much has changed.

But all in all, good production values. But I want to see more rugby.

If it was a women's international 7s tourney it would draw about 300 people and have to be played at a local park like Robb Field. The women in the stands objectify themselves, so you should take it up with them and not here. Women's rugby rides on the coat tails of the men's game, so they go a nice little spot on the show and that is about all that is needed in my opinion.

I agree, Sitton didn't do a bad job on the show. Whoever decided to have him as the "host" made a wise choice. Outdated references to American football were minimal although I did hear one about "setting a pick" basketball-style, or something similar.

However... the first 10-15 minutes were cut off in the SF Bay Area too, after the Celtics-Suns game went past the top of the hour. As someone else said, ABC just dropped that part of the rugby broadcast. I was hoping to see a short intro to rugby (especially covering the basics of the laws) at the beginning, but who knows if that happened or not. Since ABC couldn't be bothered to delay the local news by 10 minutes afterwards (which they do for baseball, football, or basketball), we can make a guess as to how they view rugby in comparison.

I also had concerns about the advertising. It seemed like they were showing ads every 5 minutes or so. If that's what it took to get the program on ABC, I guess it's better than nothing, but it doesn't bode well for having 15's on in the future.

Additionally, I think they could have done a better job of editing/selecting the shots of the stadium. Showing a half-empty facility doesn't look good. Cutting the wide-angle shots showing the totally empty upper deck would have been a good move.

But the most curious aspect of the program was the lack of focus on the USA team. I mean no disrespect to any of the other sides, but almost nobody in this country cares about Argentina winning (or even knows where it is). The final shots of them spraying champagne everywhere were cool, but IMO they should have focused 40 minutes of the 1-hour program (or 20 of the 40-minute program, less ads) on the USA team and its games. I'd wager that the non-rugby American public wants to see their team in action, and the USA's performance in this tournament was a great opportunity to showcase the successes of the 7's program.

One side note: I found it curious that they didn't show the last restart kick in the USA-Argentina semifinal - you know, the one that could be called "controversial".

Notwithstanding the above concerns, it was awesome to see rugby - any kind, any level - on American TV. Having it on one of the main US networks, in HD, is the icing on the cake (along with the repeated shots of hot chicks in star-spangled bikinis which will bring more fans next year). Congratulations must be extended to all that are/were behind this.

I'm looking forward to the Cal-UBC game (and the other 2) in April!

Follow the Money,
I am not saying you are wrong about women's rugby -- you're right the crowd for a women's only event would be much smaller.

However, my point was that the IRB is only paying lip service to the womens' game.

I worry that if the IOC sees the IRB's lip service for what it is, Olympic rugby might get deferred for another four years.

If another four years of no Olympic rugby is unacceptable, then we should be trying harder to remedy the issues the IOC identified.

Call it the Kournikovization of women's sport, but the 7s game should be much more visually appealing to the neutral fan than 15s.... Just like the men's game.

Do you really think that the IOC gives two hoots about how much time the women's 7s exhibition game at PETCO got on the USA broadcast? Come on.

Women's rugby (7s & 15s) is way to slow and lacks the physicality to be appealing to the neutral fan. Neutral fans do not watch women's team sports except beach volleyball, for the obvious reasons, and seem to prefer women's sports where it is individual against individual. Only tennis and golf have had success in the professional space, and the WNBA doesn't count because it is subsidized by the NBA. Women's team sports ride on the men's version in nearly every case to get any audience aside from the small one they earn.

Follow the Money,
I hear you, and in essence I agree with your obersvations on the lack of marketability.

The point I was trying to make is that the IRB needs to convince the IOC.

If the IRB shows up with an excuse list -- rather than accomplishments -- at the next IOC meeting, they may very well get dinged in favor for frisbee golf or tiddly winks.

The 7s WC in Dubai has a full 16 team women's tournament running along side the men's 24 team tournament. I think that is plenty of proof that they have committed to women's rugby.

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