« Should USARFU tackle college playoff costs? | Main | On parents and scoreboards »

06 April 2009


Even the teams that won't be involved (especially the teams that won't be involved, perhaps?) are anxious for this to happen. Once the road to a "national championship" is confined to a select group of teams (which it basically already is) then these other teams can create their own regionalized leagues and conferences and stop worrying about the idea playing for a national championship that they have very little chance at winning anyways. Then these teams can focus on capitalizing on local rivalries like Florida v Florida St. and Ohio St. v. Michigan. Now, everyone's goal is to "make nationals." Why? So you can lose to Cal by 100? Get rid of "nationals" except for the few teams that can actually compete, and focus on more regionalized play. See Marty Bradley's recent comment about the amount of money spent by UT to go to "nationals" the last 6 years. I am willing to bet that if that money had instead been put into things other than travel to "nationals," UT would be a much stronger program right now.

Marty's numbers added up to approx. $87,000. You could do alot with that over a 6 year period in terms of equipment, coaching, scholarships, etc.

Slow down. The key to funding college rugby is alumni. Playing on a national stage for a national championship is the best method of engaging the alumni.

This isn't just about better investing $87K worth of UT rugby club money. There is some investment needed.

First issue is to get USAR on board or out of the picture. They can't sit on the commercial rights to college rugby and do nothing with them. It isn't right to charge the college teams dues, then make them pay 100% of the USA Rugby national championship. While USAR pockets the vast majority of the NG sponsorship dough.

Second issue is creating a national competition with sponsorship dollars. Being a worthy participant in this competition will help the teams grow rugby on their campus. More fans, better facilities, better campus support and more alumni support.

A national competition, to include a national championship, are important aspects to growing the sport and our teams. The best teams playing each other is a tool to grow our teams and sport. Just because USAR doesn't know how to exploit the product doesn't mean we should throw it away.

Our suggestions aren't necessarily mutually exclusive. And I also don't think that USA Rugby has any monopoly on commercial rights. If I wanted to create a tournament of, say, Big 10 schools and sell the rights to ESPN, I would love to see USA Rugby try to stop me.

So maybe we regionalize like previous posters have suggested. Have a "national tournament" that has 32 teams. Since many TUs have single elimination playoffs anyways, we essentially already have this. Then more teams make the "national tournament" and get better alumni support. All the while, travel is reduced and costs are saved and put back into the programs.

I fundamentally disagree with "Premier College Rugby" when (s)he says that the key to funding college rugby is alumni. The key to funding the college rugby national playoffs, like other sports, should be "butts in seats."

We need to have the goal of making the playoffs self-supporting, so that the teams' expenses come, not from alumni, not from the NG sponsorship, but from revenues from the venues that host the playoffs. The bid process should allow the host site to capture their expenses plus a bit to provide incentive, then the rest goes to the 8 teams that are traveling to play. 8 matches over two days at a 3,000 seat venue at $15 per person per day, would generate $90K less expenses.

If, say, 60K went to the participating teams, they would each receive $7.5k towards their expenses. If you could attract 5,000 spectators, the teams could divide $100K, covering 12.5K of each team's expenses.

Of course, this would restrict the bid competition to sites that thought they could attract 3-5000 spectators for each of the days of competition. Ideally, each venue would have a foundation sponsor that would underwrite any shortfall in the needed gate, so that the participating teams could count on having their expenses paid regardless of the gate.

Were it not for the travel costs, and with the exception of Cal, I believe every team that was invited into a national collegiate league would jump at the chance to have top-level home and home competition with 8-16 of the best teams in the USA.

This type of competition would be perfect for Cal and every other team looking to play good matches.

I do think it needs the best teams though. We currently have 3 regional comps that are labeled premier, So Cal, Mid West and Mid Atlantic and to be honest they are far from it.


why does there need to be a USARFU approved national championship.

how about "bowl games" like in college football.

pick a venue and go every year.

waiting until the 11th hour to secure travel arrangements year after year...

waste of money....waste of time...

Most of the points I saw here are valid, but i do have to agree with the people who say that playoffs should be funded by "butts in the seats". If not now, it will have to be in the future in order for the sport to legitimately grow.
Obviously that is a problem for Rugby in the USA, even though there are a fair amount of rugby fans in the US, it is too costly to travel to watch a national championship, especially as a fan.
The only solution to this fundamental problem in my opinion is using the internet as a medium for distribution of the games. Something like, 10 dollars to watch all the games online for a week.
As a college player, I know that I and most of my teammates would be willing to pay that to watch the games. It makes it possible for us to draw money from the rugby fans from across the nation.
This way, we can both help fund the national championships, AND make high level rugby more available to the masses, which is obviously a key to spreading the sport.
I understand that this alone may not be enough to fund all of the national championship costs, and it might not be the perfect solution, but I do believe it is an obvious step in the right direction.

Let's get to the curve.

Bowling Green are going there because they played two ineligible players, maybe throughout the whole season but definitely in the Mid-West playoffs, and the disciplinary committee thinks that's OK!!

Come on, People! We need to get stirred up when a few dudes decide that it's better that Bowling Green goes to the Nationals to maintain regional seeding than Ohio State because they're honest.

Some one get angry out there!

Cheeseheadrugger and Feldspar have good points. What I see needing to happen in college rugby is they need to really apply some organization with getting regional leagues together. I see all these different college rugby leagues around the country and it has my head spinning. At least schools that are trying this Premier League idea are focusing on getting organization within their regions. I'm still trying to understand how LSU is a Pacific seed and Air Force is a West seed. We need to get common conferences(PAC-10, SEC, MWC) in the loop for the fans and media to latch on. Of course some teams will be absorbed into those MAJOR Conference leagues and thats just fine. You see it in NCAA Baseball, where the WAC or another conference will take in a lower DIV school who wants to play DIV ball in that sport. We have the blueprint for regionalization already with NCAA sports. Now we get all the rugby teams put into those conferences, get these teams more the 6-10 games in a season and work towards that National Championship. Yes, I know Cal is the NY Yankees and the rest of us are not. But on any given day, anything can happen. Probably not in my lifetime, but you never know. The sooner we make college rugby easier to follow in the varsity mode, the sooner butts will be in the seat and some revenue can be generated for those teams/schools.

I find it interesting that the posters on this site have no idea about the finances of college sport, especially when so many claim that USA Rugby people are foreign and know nothing.

Lets get real. Rugby will never bring in enough revenue with TV sponsorship and ticket sales to cover costs. There are only two revenue producing sports in college; football and mens basketball. All the others COST money. At the school I went to, several thousand would pay to watch the women's basketball team, but it would still lose money each year. Rugby will never be able to cover its costs without Alumni. Cal has the model - raise a ton of money and use that to cover operating costs. Bums in seats is another revenue source, but it will not cover the costs of running the team.

Those that say that they can "sell the rights" to the college tournament to ESPN, also do not understand the business. ESPN does not buy rights to anything except the big sports. MLS PAYS ESPN to put soccer on. Same with all the other sports. If you want to get on ESPNU then you need to pay for the production costs (probably more than $20k) and they will put it on. They may give you some ad slots to you, so you can sell them but they will NEVER buy the rights to any college rugby event.

If you want to argue about how the National Guard money is being spent, you can see that a chunk of it is putting rugby games on TV. Whether it is the National Championships, or the game of the week, USAR is trying to fulfill their sponsors so they come back next year.

Alumni is the difference maker for rugby in college. Rugby is the oldest club sport on campus, and rugby players are generally loyal to their old team. Cal and Stanford have had rugby on campus for 100 years, but if you want to start to build your program collect all the information you can about those that have played for your team.

David C, you are confused because you can't read. LSU is a west seed, not a Pac-Coast. And Air Force is a west seed, where is it you think they should be from?

James, I haven't read anyone say a rights fee from ESPN will pay for anything.

However, a sponsor or sponsors will. The National Guard is a good example. They pay USAR a couple millions for next to nothing in return. The current NG agreement is a one year agreement, which was renewed from last years one year agreement. The NG is keeping the term short for good reason, as they try to figure out if there is any return on investment in working with USAR. Good bet they might just decide rugby is a go, but USAR isn't.

There are lots of sponsors like the NG who would have an interest in a top level college rugby competition. It might be one sponsor, or maybe a family of 3 or 4. You're right ESPN wouldn't pay to air the competition, but they would broadcast the matches.

This premier college rugby competition should happen. It should have happened a couple of years ago. Melville doesn't understand the value these universities have in the commercial markets. This is the demographic the best companies in America want, ala the NG. This college market is more valuable than the Eagles market, but our foreign brass can't get this through their international mind-set.

The better we do with the elevation of college rugby the easier raising money from alumni gets. This top level competition will also assist the teams in making their case on what college rugby can be to their athletic administrators.

USAR is sitting in these rights. Maybe a break-away competition is the right thing to do, but how much easier would it be if the administration taxing college rugby would just do their job?

James is right in that rugby (college or otherwise) will not get paid for TV at this point. I was just making the point that playoffs don't HAVE to be a huge drain on the budgets of the attending teams.

High-quality matches among top-tier teams can have enough draw (if marketed aggressively) to pay for themselves, or almost so. Over time, the organizers can pay out a larger and larger fraction of the costs to travel to the venues.

Heck, alumni finance a huge share of any football or basketball coach's salary. Their support will always be critical for a rugby program to flourish as well. But playoffs don't have to be a huge drain on club finances if the playoffs are marketed well and organized well.

I would completely agree with James except in a small area.

All the other varsity sports cost money. He is right. But arent the scholarships a major cost? No scholarships in rugby. Rugby is actually pretty cheap compared to other sports. Besides soccer I cant think of a cheaper sport to fund.

So ticket sales may be more meaningful to rugby clubs than other teams.

And I agree with others that it wont be paid by "selling the rights" or ticket sales. But through sponsorship. We arent constricted by ncaa. I think rugby has a lot more maneuverability in pursuing its own financial backing if our leadership decides to do so.

PAC-10 league would be a nightmare.
Example: Arizona vs Washington State: 3000 miles round trip. 23 hours each way by car.
The PNRFU travel from Oregon to WSU is about as far as a sensible league can be. Mountain West would be similarly bad.

East coasters. Remember our states are really, really big.

The comments to this entry are closed.


About Comments

  • Gainline.us values readers' thoughts and wisdom. While correspondents are encouraged to use given names, aliases in combination with a valid, publicly accessible email are acceptable. Profanity will be edited and unverifiable identities unpublished. Thanks to all who write in for helping to advance our collective understanding of American rugby, as it is and could be.

Corrections & Amplifications

  • Gainline.us values accuracy and fairness. If we fall short of the goal, we promptly correct errors or oversights. Strikethroughs denote text which has been replaced. *Asterisks* denotes text added after the initial post.
My Photo