Roster announcements omitting core player information have become USARFU’s norm.
The union last week released three international teams — a World Cup qualifying squad, a 7s World Series team, and an under-20 unit headed to the 2d division world championship — without providing player positions, height, weight, or date of birth. Only the Uruguay roster identified the players’ home teams.
Player biographies are considered a staple of sports marketing and promotion. They also must be submitted to the International Rugby Board — meaning the American governing body is effectively choosing to withhold information.
Union personnel did not respond to requests for comment.
In the era of ubiquitious mobile and internet access, both assembling and publishing such material costs little more than staff time. USARFU’s site includes a page on the 15s player pool, but info is not up to date and the listing both includes players who are out of action and leaves out some who are part of the current Uruguay squad. Much the same is true of the 7s Eagles page.
More broadly, the union's unhelpful practice runs counter to the socioeconomic trend toward ‘big data’, when professional analysts and enthusiasts alike study information for hidden patterns and new opportunities. One of the sporting word's best-known examples is baseball’s Sabermetrics, which downplays traditional measurements of success such as batting average and replaces them with, for instance, on base percentage.
Closer to home, the American 7s expert Emil Signes was among the first to identify the importance of the restart in acquiring possession, working out that kickoffs can account for as much as two-thirds in any given game. Though it is unclear whether roster info contains technical insight, it’s far less likely to be evaluated if it isn’t publicly available.
Beyond the technical realm, representative sides are seen as siphoning off local teams’ best players with little consideration for the latter's contribution to athlete development, aside from identifying the athletes’ home clubs. The acknowledgement sometimes encourages the next generation of hopefuls when making decisions about which team to play for. De minimis roster data negates that benefit, furthering the impression that USARFU believes local teams exist primarily to advance the union's interests.