With details of a new college 7s tournament imminent, it's interesting to juxtapose USARFU'S latest event strategy.
Boulder's approach can be summarized as 1) more and more profitable internationals and 2) better venues and lower cost for its national championships. Effectively, the plan recommits to a business model USARFU has struggled to execute, and achieving operational improvement compares with incorporating high-profile college brands and national TV.
The union has not taken on the objectives of offsetting participants' costs, standard practice in American sports, or once again acquiring a strategic broadcast partner.
The 2006 strategic plan called for at least one 'tier 1' country to visit America every year. Outside of the Churchill Cup, which inheres shared revenue, that objective wasn't met in 2007, 2008, or 2010 as leading countries would prefer either to rest or play each other. The IRB's promoting discussion of a tier 2 schedule can partly be seen in this light.
Moreover, aiming for more test matches is an approach beloved of our neighbors in Canada. There is a school of thought that if your rivals (e.g., Major League Soccer or Rugby Canada) aim at very similar objectives, your goals are not really strategic.
USARFU intends to bid for the 2014 women's World Cup. The 2006 world championship in Canada yielded a loss of C$1.05 million ($1.03 million). The plan does not indicate why we would do better. The last plan called for bidding on the 2015 men's World Cup, which will be hosted by England.
The union's more recent attempt to bring a third-party game to the US, the failed bid for a fall 2009 Bledisloe match in Denver, would have taken on the risk of having to sell out a 76,000-seat stadium for the upside of $200,000, according to published reports.
America may not host the 2011 Churchill Cup, despite announcing last year that it would stage three consecutive tournaments, but apparently will stage the 2012 event. As happened in the 2007 World Cup campaign, next year's Churchill could be in England. Separately, the 2010 Americas Rugby Championship will be in Argentina, where it will be televised by ESPN, according to people familiar with the matter.
At last year's Churchill in Denver and again at the World Cup qualifier against Uruguay in Fort Lauderdale, virtually all of the national staff were on the ground, working hard to execute the many requirements of test rugby. Indeed, the staff held its Christmas party there in Florida.
That is little enough reward for the folks in Boulder, but also indicates the heavy opportunity cost of internationals. CIPP dues, a proven source of revenue, come with their own set of expectations.