USARFU is trying to attract pro leagues in Europe and the southern hemisphere to the idea of placing franchises in America. You don't say?
'Commercially, rugby's future is in the US. All of the [International Rugby Board's] major sponsors have business interests in the US. USA Rugby is developing professionally and sensibly, but obviously is restrained in terms of its pace of growth by economic realities.
'What we need is access to a superior competition and until we can start playing in either Super Rugby (via a West Coast franchise), the Magners League (East Coast), or the Six Nations (funded partially by the IRB), then it will be difficult for us to progress at the pace the game needs'.
The quote belongs not to chief executive Nigel Melville, yesterday interviewed by Australia's Daily Telegraph on the possibility of Heineken Cup teams Stateside, but to chair Kevin Roberts, a year ago in the New Zealand Herald.
For the record, Melville, who is British, blandly confirmed he has been talking to Europeans. 'It's all about timing and looking at opportunity. New York, Boston and other areas have appeal to Europe and could be used for teams in the Heineken Cup', he observed.
The story gains heft after Melville rehearses the possibility of a fourth Super Rugby conference based in North America and perhaps also Japan.
'Do we have the players to do it tomorrow? No. But in three or four years time, if we knew that would happen, certainly a lot of players would be interested in playing professionally here in Super Rugby', Melville said.
Last fall, South African union deputy president Mark Alexander told Reuters that Argentina, now part of the Rugby Championship tournament, would probably be next in line because the cost of importing quality players is high; a domestic supply is attractive.
Still more important, this February SANZAR chief executive Greg Peters signaled expansion plans are linked to the renewal of its television contract, which has several years to run. 'I don't think anything is off the table at all post-2015', he told the Sydney Morning Herald.
In the interim, Melville thus looks to be trying to keep the prospect front and center. In an unsigned blog post, USARFU played up the story for domestic audiences, asserting:
The USA looks poised to put a team into a professional league. The question is now, which one? Heineken Cup would mean an East Coast club needs to be prepped to take part, while Super 15 would imply a West Coast club.
'There are obviously a lot of questions that need to be answered', it concludes. No kidding. Everyone remembers Denver's Bledisloe Cup match; who now recalls Rugby Canada was once certain of a Sevens World Series tour stop in Toronto?
Talk is cheap, the union is cash poor. Maybe executive salaries should be reweighted toward performance bonuses?
Related: On Super Rugby in America