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13 December 2010


Well, where was the media buy? All that effort put in to making it happen, and no effort put into letting the public know about it. What do you expect? If no major network covers it, why not have a live stream on the USA Rugby site.

It's too bad the Churchill won't be held in the US. With all the attention rugby will be getting now, this it the time to really get behind it, not pack it in because you didn't do a good enough job promoting it.

The attention will be on Sevens, Troy Benson.

Come 2016, Fifteens will be a confirmed second rate code in the USA.

If you are serious about youth rugby in America, focus on Sevens and you will have a winner.

And a massive pool of talent.


Bring back the Pacific Rim tournament. A great bunch of games, we were competitive and packed (small) stadiums full of fans. It was hard to get into the Churchill Cup when it was full of 'A' teams.


We can't hang with the Pacific Nations Cup teams or the IRB would have USA and Canada in that tourney. Even Japan has passed us by beating Samoa and Tonga in last year's tourney, which was held in June with the islander's pros playing.

Let's be honest here. We are a 3rd tier nation with fans that don't care. At least in places like Georgia, Romania, Uruguay, Portugal, etc they fill their national stadiums with crowds 4 times our best USA crowds of 10K.

Also, saw some posts in the past that said Italy was on par with USA Rugby. WTF? They have 2 pro teams in the Magners's League, a 10 team (pro/semi-pro) league, a national team that plays in the top NH competition and takes a scalp once and a while and put 80K people in a stadium not long ago for an All Blacks match. Their union has real revenue and they have a real development program for coaches and players. A lot of you guys are just dreamers.

Skinner - Sevens is great, but are you suggesting we abandon 15's? Youth rugby is growing like mad in the US and in High School Rugby is growing just as fast. Now with the restructuring of college rugby, there is a clearer path for those new players to take. Not everyone is Dan Lyle, but soon it's going to be a lot easier for guys like him choose rugby at a younger age. This is the time to get behind it, now pack it in and say we're a seven's nation because we need to show commercials to show rugby. Rugby is too great of a game to let that happen.

I attended the Churchill Cup finals in the Red Bull soccer stadium and was disappointed at the attendance. Repeat examples of this and it is understandable that it could be withdrawn.

Passionate rugby fans need more than an awesome game to draw numbers. We need cultural acceptance, successful Eagles and reliable sources to follow them. Without this formula, rugby will forever be a challenge to promote Stateside.

I think 7s will be more successful than 15s - but until the USA develops a professional league, there will be little hope for a more competitive Eagles squad.

My two cents.

Troy, the truth is the money will follow Sevens. Get your head out of the sand bud.

It is easier to organize, coach, play and promote Sevens. And the Olympic's will drive the commercial side.

Follow the money - it will back Sevens not Fifteens.

And Americans only back winners.

The USA is in the top 10 in Sevens - we are horrible in Fifteens. We look horrible playing Fifteens compared to a top tier side.

We look good playing Sevens, and already host the world's best in Vegas for the Sevens tour.

NBC is showcasing Sevens on TV. I know they are covering the World Cup too, but that is the World Cup - folks will enjoy watching good rugby at the highest levels. We won't make it out of our pool play.

I say embrace it, and become one of the best Sevens countries in the world.

No shame in that.

Just the truth.

The kids playing today care less about the Eagles than the players before them did. The Eagles are a decaying brand. USAR has mismanaged the effort. Had they not sucked the membership dry paying for Scott Johnson and EOS, it might have been different, but as is, no one cares. At least not enough to attend Churchill Cup matches.

The problem is that American rugby is isolated in the global rugby structure. One person elsewhere once stated he wanted to have a Pan-American tournament to provide the U.S. consistent opposition. And I told him it was not workable because you'd get the same result year after year: Argentina's B-side can beat everyone else this side of the world pretty consistently, Canada more often than not would beat the U.S. for runner-up, both those teams can beat Uruguay by 30, and Uruguay beats every other country in the region by 30.

The problem is we need consistent competitive games, but if you're a European team, why would you ever come over here to play a game of rugby when you can go 200 miles over to the next country and play them for much cheaper? Ditto Japan, they play the Pacific Island teams which are closer for them than us.

Rugby in the world is too small a sport and the finances here do not exist enough to support the American and Canadian having good tour schedules year in and year out, unless they just face each other.

"[Italy's] union has real revenue and they have a real development program for coaches and players..."

A real development program for players? Naturalizing Kiwis? ;)

"The USA is in the top 10 in Sevens - we are horrible in Fifteens. We look horrible playing Fifteens compared to a top tier side."

And we look horrible playing 7s against Fiji (fans hear that and will say "seriously? we're so horrible we get killed by Fiji?). And please don't overrate "we're top 10 in 7s". Only 12 countries get to play in every tournament. We're top 10 in 7s and we're top 16 in 15s. Big deal.

"NBC is showcasing Sevens on TV. I know they are covering the World Cup too, but that is the World Cup - folks will enjoy watching good rugby at the highest levels. We won't make it out of our pool play.

I say embrace it, and become one of the best Sevens countries in the world."

My gut just tells me on American sports culture we're not going to throw a lot of support behind a game that's over in 15-20 minutes and then you have to watch 7 other games before you get to see your team play again. It's good for a festival atmosphere but as far as being a sport taken seriously where fans live and die on the results, I just don't see it.

@rj The All Blacks are half or more of naturalized Pacific Islanders and most the NH teams have naturalized Kiwis, Saffers and Aussies. Your point is mute.

@ALL 7s will be a massive success for the Olympics, and that means the USOC will desire, demand and fund a metal contesting team. The Olympics make more than 50% of their revenue from USA broadcast rights. If rugby 7s is drawing huge crowds at the games (which it will), their will be additional pressure from NBC for the USOC to create a metal contending team.

medal...default word from my employment as an architect.

"@rj The All Blacks are half or more of naturalized Pacific Islanders and most the NH teams have naturalized Kiwis, Saffers and Aussies. Your point is mute. "

First off, it's moot, not mute.

Second, most of those people that routinely get called poaches learned how to play the game in New Zealand. The Kiwis you see playing for Italy and Japan were grown adults that weren't good enough in New Zealand, went to play somewhere else, knew they'd never get picked at home, so took on their nationality. That's not development. Give me a few million dollars, I'll go buy a bunch of Samoans and Fijians and our country could have a decent rugby team in the 2-2 RWC record range, but that wouldn't necessarily mean we've improved the sport in this country at all.

Firstly, NZ has a long tradition of going on secondary school tours to the islands and plucking all the best players to attend school in NZ to be developed into potential All Blacks. They have been criticized for the practice by Australia and others, but as of late the Aussies have joined them in the practice of getting islanders over as early as possible and develop them.

RE: Nationalized Players
It is the IRB rule and even England with the largest player pool in the world and an established professional league with academies and more money than any union on earth for development plans has naturalized players from New Zealand, Islanders and South Africa (Hape, Tuilagi, Flutey, Fourie and even legends like Catt). So your point is moot/mute about Italy. Also, your argument would have held some water if you knew that Argentines are most of the naturalized players, but most are one generation removed from Italy and not using their grandparent or 5 year residency to qualify.

If we had a pro league, we wouldn't look so bad playing 15's and the Eagles would be far more fit if it were there job to play rugby. In Europe, they are professionals. In the US we're hard working amateurs. How are we going to get to that point when we don't support the team, not to mention the sport?

I was at the last Churchill Cup in NJ and it was embarrassing. I also live in New York City, and if I didn't play rugby myself, I wouldn't have known it was happening. There was no promotion of the event. This part of the country is the most densely populated with rugby players. You have to make a big deal out of top class athletes in your back yard, not just open the doors and say come on in if you want. I'd like to apply for the position of brand manager.

@ wake up: Fascinating. What source are you getting this information from? I only know of Toeava that moved to NZ at high school age. Can you tell me who the 10 other squad members are and which 'tours' it was that 'plucked' them? I think Kaino's family moved when he was 8 but they are from American Samoa, I wasn't aware that anyone toured american samoa for rugby. Did the secret agents negotiate directly with 8 year old Kaino or did they pay off his parents?

USA should play Canada home and away each year. Remember it took many decades for the Bledisloe to develop into a credible competition and today it perhaps the preeminant rivalry in rugby.

keep developing sevens for marketing purposes and ultimately aim for gold medals and series victory but don't give up on international 15s. I agree that a discerning sports fan is never going to treat sevens with the same credibility as 15s in america.


From concerned rugby people on the islands.


"The NZRU would be aware that for decades now New Zealand high schools and colleges have been offering rugby scholarships to young schoolboy players in Samoa and luring many to New Zealand in this way. Also young Fijian and Tongan schoolboys in even larger numbers are similarly recruited. Many exceptional players eventually end up in the New Zealand 7s team and the All Black teams."

The NZ Herald


"Selu Tuala, the college's sports master and coach of the first XV, says his best players are spotted in school rugby tournaments in New Zealand. "It is very bad for Samoan rugby but New Zealand gives them the opportunity to improve their game."

The boys are snatched up by clubs and they stay."

Sit down clown.

@Wake Up, This is a post from another blog that kind of makes a mockery of your assertions. As you will see NZ contribute far more to world rugby than they "poach", Here it is:

Here are some figures regarding “foreign born” players in the 2007 RWC.

Some of the names are surprising. Where you are born should never be the only determinant of what country you can play for .. because for so many reasons people are born in one country and live in another.

Another name to add to the list below is Jamie Hislip, the Ireland number 8 .. who was born in Tiberias, Israel, as his father was serving on a UN peacekeeping mission there.

Foreign-born players by country at the 2007 Rugby World Cup with birthplace in brackets:

Argentina: Estaban Lozada (Ottignies, Belgium)

Australia: Stephen Moore (Saudi Arabia), Daniel Vickerman (Cape Town, South Africa), George Gregan (Zambia), Lote Tuqiri (Fiji), Guy Shepherdson (Jakarta, Indonesia), Matt Dunning (Calgary, Canada).

Canada: James Pritchard (Parkes, Australia), DHT van der Merwe (Worcester, South Africa), Nick Trenkel (Randburg, South Africa)

England: Mike Catt (Port Elizabeth, South Africa), Perry Freshwater (Wellington, New Zealand), Simon Shaw (Nairobi, Kenya), Matt Stevens (Durban, South Africa)

Fiji: Nicky Little (Tokoroa, New Zealand)

France: Pieter de Villiers (Malmesbury, South Africa), Serge Betsen, (Kumba, Cameroun), Thierry Dusautoir (Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire), Yannick Nyanga (Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo)

Georgia: –

Ireland: Simon Easterby (Harrogate, England), Ronan O’Gara (San Diego, USA), Frankie Sheahan (Toronto, Canada), Isaac Boss (Tokoroa, New Zealand)

Italy: Carlo Dal Fava (Umtata, South Africa), Rolland de Marigny (Durban South Africa), David Bortolussi (Auch, France), Paul Griffen (Dunedin New Zealand), Josh Sole (Hamilton, New Zealand), Kane Robertson (Auckland, New Zealand), Marko Stanojevic (Birmingham, England), Manoa Vosawai (Fiji) and then the Argentinians: Matias Aguero (Buenos Aires), Gonzalo Córdoba), Martín Castrogiovanni (Parana), Pablo Canavosio (Córdoba), Santiago Dellapè (Mar del Plata), Sergio Parisse (Mar del Plata), Ramiro Pez (Córdoba)

Japan: Chulwon Kim (Seoul, South Korea), Christian Loamanu (Tonga), Luatangi Samurai Vatuvei (Tonga), Luke Thompson (Christchurch, New Zealand), Philip O’Reilly (Hamilton, New Zealand), Bryce Robins (New Plymouth, New Zealand), Hare Makiri (Thames, New Zealand)

Namibia: Lu-Wayne Botes (Johannesburg, South Africa), Johannes Meyer (Bloemfontein, South Africa), Jacques Nieuwenhuis (Brakpan, South Africa), Piet van Zyl (Worcester, South Africa)

New Zealand: Joe Rokocoko (Fiji), Sitiveni Sivivatu (Fiji), Sione Lauaki (Tonga) and the Samoans: Chris Masoe, Rodney So’oialo, Isaia Toeava, Jerry Collins and Mils Muliaina

Portugal: David Penalva (France), André Silva (Paris, France), Juan Severino Somoza (Argentina)

Romania: –

Samoa: The following were born in NZ – Tanielu Fuga (Auckland), Census Johnston (Auckland), Sailosi Tagicakibau (Auckland), Gavin Williams (Auckland), Leo Lapiali’i (Auckland), Kas Lealamaua (Wellington), Elvis Seveali’i (Wellington), Lome Fa’atau (Wellington), Justin Purdie (Wellington), Kane Thompson (Wellington), Daniel Leo (Palmerston North), Junior Polu (Otahuhu), Justin Va’a (Lower Hutt), Fosi Palaamo (Murupara)

South Africa: Bob Skinstad (Harare, Zimbabwe)

Tonga: Ephraim Taukafa (Aucland, New Zealand)

Scotland: John Barclay (Hong Kong), Nathan Hones (Australia), Dan Parks (Australia), and several from England: Hugo Southwell (London), Andrew Henderson (Chatham), Gavin Kerr (Newcastle), Simon Webster (Hartlepool), Craig Smith (York), Rob Dewey (Marlborough), Jim Hamilton (Swindon)

USA: Takudzwa Ngwenya (Harare, Zimbabwe), Inaki Basauri (Mexico), Philip Eloff (Mossel Bay, South Africa), Chad Erskine (Pietermaritzburg South Africa), Owen Lentz (King William’s Town, South Africa), Hayden Mexted (Whakatane , New Zealand), Andrew Osborne (Fiji), and the Tongans: Vahafolau Esikia, Matekitonga Moeakiola, Valenise Malifa, Fifita Mounga, Salesi Sikia

Wales: Dafydd James (Lusaka, Zambia), Ian Evans (Johannesburg, South Africa), Sonny Parker (Thames, New Zealand) and from England: Chris Horsman (Newport Pagnell), Colin Charvis (Sutton Coldfield), Will James (Plymouth), Tom Shanklin (Harrow)

That enables us to determine the biggest importers and exporters of rugby players:


1. Italy – 15
2. Samoa – 14
3. USA – 12
4. Scotland – 10
5. New Zealand – 8
6. Australia, Wales – 7
8. Japan – 6
9. England, France, Ireland, Namibia – 4
13. Canada, Portugal – 3
15. Argentina, Fiji, South Africa, Tonga – 1
19. Georgia, Romania – 0


1. New Zealand – 27
2. South Africa – 16
3. England – 13
4. Argentina, Tonga – 8
6. Fiji, Samoa – 5
8. Australia, France – 3
10. Canada, Zambia, Zimbabwe – 2
13. Belgium, Cameroun, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Korea, Saudi Arabia, USA – 1

Of the countries at the 2007 World Cup the following have no exports – Georgia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Namibia, Portugal, Scotland and Wales

Well said Max. Seems Samoa is better off poaching their players from NZ as opposed to the other way around.

Of course, as you acknowledge, that list is kind of BS because it doesn't take into account why someone plays for the country other than where he was born. It treats as equal a New Zealander who couldn't make the All Blacks and so went north and qualified for Japan and another guy whose Irish father worked for an oil company and spent a few years in Saudi before emigrating with his wife and infant son to Australia.

Andre I'm sure someone as intelligent as yourself can see that irrelevant random outliers like Heaslip aside, New Zealand clearly contributes FAR more players to the world talent pool than it allegedly "poaches". And of the All Black players treated as foreign on that list for the sake of argument, most of them have lived the majority of their lives in NZ. What people who have never lived in the pacific don't realise is that if it weren't for NZ all of the Island nations would have terrible teams.

I was never really a fan of the Churchill Cup as it was just an A side tournament for the 6N sides. I prefer seeing 2 to 3 matches in June with a must bigger Fall tour in November. I do think an annual series with Canada is something that will work and be commercially viable (June Window).

November could be 3 test matches (would love to see the iron curtain tour, Russia, Romania and Georgia)and two midweek games versus pro clubs in order to give our players the chance to be seen and get a pro contract.

As far as broadcast partners go....Universal Sports signed up to the Churchill Cup last year. Maybe it will be more marketable for them to broadcast Eagles test matches and a CANAM Series as "The Road to the Rugby World Cup".

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