What next for the Churchill Alliance, now that its namesake tournament is slated to end?
While the annual competition aimed to commercialize international rugby in North America, the partnership among Canada, England, and the United States also includes coaching education and technical exchanges.
'We have some referee and coach education in place for 2011. The RFU [England's Rugby Football Union] and the Alliance Agreement will be discussed in the new year along with the Churchill Cup and future relations between North America and the RFU', USARFU chief executive Nigel Melville said in an email.
Aside from knowledge transfer, England remains a potentially valuable partner because it one of the world's most successful rugby businesses. Though its affairs are sometimes stormy, the RFU's performance has generally been shrewd and even visionary.
The Churchill embodies the English view that established unions should partner with emerging countries, a stance that preceded the International Rugby Board's much discussed development program. The tournament provided North American unions with quality matches: domestic content and inventory meant to be monetized.
'I'm not sure we have commercially upheld our end of the bargain. Overtime we've needed to bring more fans and sponsors to the tournaments, reducing the RFU funding, which hasn't happened,' past USARFU national team general manager and business development manager Jack Clark observed in an email.
'Commercially building rugby in new markets is a difficult assignment, but we shouldn't assume entities like the RFU or even the IRB will invest open ended in us without some commercial traction. The Churchill Cup alliance was meant to grow the game in North America, not just to play matches.'
The 2011 Churchill Cup schedule has not been released.
Related: Churchill's end in view