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06 May 2009


At a recent SFGG SL match, the scoreboard on the side of the clubhouse sat forlornly waiting for someone to put numbers on it...

Stop complaining. Pay your dues, pay all the expense and give me your commercial rights for free.

I didn't come to this backwater rugby country to help grow some uni bullshit I don't even understand.

I'm here because I lost my last couple of rugby jobs and was working in football with no particular success. The IRB boys like me, I speak their language you could say, so I ended up here. The money's not bad, I tell you.

I'm here to wake the sleeping giant. The Eagles are the only project that matters. My last couple of foreign coaching hires haven't worked out so well, but I'm confident my new Irishman will do the trick.

If I can get us up to 17th in the world, the US media will be sure to take notice. By the time we are 12th or 13th, the good athletes will quit playing that stupid gridiron and devote themselves to rugby full-time. The four year cycle of total focus on the world cup works. It works I'm telling you.

Now that we've killed off this notion that HS rugby is the future and have moved more inline with what we do at home, the game will be free to grow.

Check out my blog and sign up as my twitter friend and I'll keep you in the know...about what you need to know about.

As someone who was part of a D2 tournament, I think Kurt is wrong. It is much more exciting to be part of the D1 competition. Lots more people, lots more excitement.

I went to a Nationals that was in the midwest, middle of nowhere, not fans, not excitement.

Not a real fan of USAR, but the collegiate National Championships in Stanford is something they do pretty well - although I agree a scoreboard on the second field is a must.

The D2 event can't stand on its own two feet because USAR is in charge of its placement. It could be placed where it has a chance of success. Also if nobody is going to attend, then we might have to admit that we shouldn't dilute the main show, but we aren't there yet, because we haven't really tried. USAR combines all these events because they are lazy.

Stanford does do a great job. USAR doesn't have an event management role at Stanford, they just own the event. After they check in the teams and make sure everyone has paid their tax, hang the National Guard banner, they bow out.


should there be a division 2 or 3 national championship?

what a waste of time and money.

the NCAA div 2 and 3 football champions are ..... after thoughts... no one but alumni and locals really care about them in football or basketball....

can someone explain why winner you league is not good enough at the lower levels. if you want more competition outside of that, schedule a tournament or two....

D2 rugby is important because there needs to be a pathway for teams to move up to D1. Take Arkansas State for example. They built their program (player/coach development, university support, team culture) by being competitive in the national D2 competition. When the time was right they moved up to D1, and are having success. Radford tried to do the same thing, but probably should have stayed in D2 for another couple of years to further develop.

The reality is that the top D2 team in the country can beat the majority of the D1 teams aside from the same 12 to 16 teams that are in the D1 pool of 16 every year. I would take Middlebury over the 17 through 25 on erugbynews.com.

17 Air Force
18 Colorado State
19 Wyoming
20 Texas A&M
21 Arizona
22 Rutgers
23 UC Davis
24 Syracuse
25 Virginia Tech

Roberts and Melville are twitblog turds.


I understand you point. I too "had" that in mind for a long time.

however, "beating" a team here and there is still no reason to have a second division and a second division pursuit of national championship.

99 out of 100 programs are coach/adminsrator drivin - meaning when then move on the "programs" fall off...

lets be realistic - focus time and money (is there anything else?) on one standard. let others catch up.

have division one rugby - let the rest fend for themselves in a loosely structured environment, where playing is important - 17 pages of rules and regulations are made secondary (read - eligibility, etc)

cheese -

don't think you realize the level of play at the top of D2. most D1 teams wouldn't compete with these teams, and most LAUs have teams on the bottom of their D1 table that can not beat the top team in their LAU D2 table. Middlebury could beat the following teams below Army and Dartmouth in the NERFU D1 table easily.

Harvard University
Boston College
University of Connecticut
Norwich University
Yale University
Northeastern University

I think you advocate just supporting the top 20 teams that always find there way into the D1 round of 16 for D1 and let everyone else eat cake. Right?

Middlebury would NOT beat those teams. And if they could then they need to move up to d1. now. St. Mary's/Ktown and others show that you can have a d1 program at a small school. Unless your Radford. haha. "hey we're goin d1!!" ass beating... "run awayyyyy!!"

Who cares.
D2 is about having fun playing rugby, don't kid yourself thinking that Dinglebury would offer to move up to a more challenging division. They like where they are, they feel important wearing their national Championship T-shirt.

If Dinglebury likes playing D2, fine. If they want to drop down to D3, great. If they want to scrimmage a girls team, no problem, as long as they don't swing their purses too hard.

D2 should be regional endeavor, D3 Local.
D1 final 4 should occur after the School has been let out, as curtain raisers for the Churchill Cup. You might have 10k at those games, if you do it right.



not support "teams" so there is top 10 or 15 or 20, etc.

create a division one college rugby. if a team wants in - they will compete for a national championship under some specific guidelines (current ones are not great)

if a team does not want in - they play rugby - form a state league, regional league, round robin play, tournaments, whatever works AND have loosend parameters.

we are holding back involvement with too many layers of infrastructure and too many rules to follow.

let the teams who want to be division one (or whatever the name is going to be) pay to play...the costs for dues, fields, travel ( a big one) ...

there is good college rugby, just let it rise to the top.

USARFU can not manage usa rugby -

keep it simple...


March 21
Middlebury 52 - Boston College 0

March 28
Middlebury 53 - Yale 5

D2 (or Middlebury guy, whichever you prefer)... if Middlebury is so awesome, why don't they move up to D1?

The fact is, as a result of the Ivies leaving NERFU, they've been asked, no, -begged- to move up but they refuse to. As Missing Link said, they enjoy being a big fish in a little pond. So, let's stop this silly Middlebury will beat this team or that team.

There's not enough money to go around to support D1-3 championships.

A promotion/relegation system, with teams vying to be promoted to D1 would be ideal. But many teams, for their own reasons (good, bad or indifferent) don't want to play that game.

So why should these teams be rewarded with a USARugby-funded national championship competition?

BTW, Middlebury Guy, you know as well as I do that Spring rugby in the Northeast is a joke if a team is not in the National playoffs.

So those scores you posted don't mean a lot.

USA Rugby provides ZERO funds to teams going to nationals. I think all you get from USA Rugby is a t-shirt. I have nothing to do with Middlebury. Just used them as an example because they won D2 championship.

So Cal has it right with a 5 team D1 and a promotion and relegation between D1 and D2. Arizona State Univ. won D2 and played the 5th team in D1 (UCLA) and lost by 2 or 3 points and will remain in D2. Other regional unions don't have a similar system and teams like Middlebury stay in D2 as long as they like.

In a sport with no scholorships and little school or booster support there is no real D1 or D2. Its all choice.

If a team can travel to a D2 sweet sixteen and final 4 they can do it in D1 so they should be D1.

We subsidize this small(Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida State all huge) school championship so these teams don't ever have to be afraid of actually learning enough rugby to compete at the top level.

Smaller programs can actually have an edge in athletes because varsity athletes can't lose their grants for not playing sports There are tons of castoffs wandering campus.

Nationals D1, Regionals D2 Local D3

Bottom line there is no diffierence in D1 and D2 except D2 teams are afraid to lose.

Missing link wants to play the D1 finals some time in the summer after school is out. Our team scatters within days (hours, actually) after the final (1st week in May) to locations all over the country or the world for that matter. They all have jobs which they need to pay for their tuition. To round up a team for a final coupled with the Churchill cup would be possible, but the boys would be out of shape and would be a completely different side than that which competed during the season. For us, the finals MUST be before school is out.

Sounds like Anon couldn't make the first 15 on a D2 team when he was in college.

The main difference between D1 and D2 is the quality of athletes available. The top D1 college teams can hold their own or beat top RSL teams. RSL teams are made up of the best graduates from college rugby available and a few imports, and many of the RSL teams are not that great. So to assume that 20 Cal or BYUs are going to bloom from the current collection of college rugby programs, you are a fool. I stand by my case that D2 college rugby is a viable competition and worth having.

Not having a scoreboard at a rugby game is UNACCEPTABLE at any venue let alone the national championships. A cheap simple flip-number scoreboard will suffice if you dont have the funds for a real one. But a fan (especially one new to rugby) finds it VERY difficult to be interested in a match when they cant even find out what the score is. CMON people!! 100 bucks max for one of those things. If not much much less.

So about scoreboards....
A portable electronic scoreboard will run about $500.
A tabletop flip scoreboard, about $50.
A freakin' 4ft x 4ft erase dry erase board and marker will run $15 at home depot.
None are budget busters, since my high school team sent over $1000 in CIPP to USA Rugby this spring, I know they have the money.

For whatever reason, it seems that scoreboards are a problem, and I personally don't understand why.

I've been at many events (the Nationals in Florida this spring is one example) where there was a nice big electronic scoreboard on the main field, and nobody flicked the "on" switch to use the thing.

As many have already said, it doesn't take much. You figure out which side everyone is gathering and stick a folding table and a flip-over scoreboard on the opposite side, manned by a sub, team manager, keen rookie, girlfriend of the captain. If both sides are full then use one end of the pitch.

It's a small gesture, but it would actually go a long way to making our matches seem slightly more legitimate. I walked across to the local high school last Sunday morning, and there was a U10 soccer match taking place, and the scoreboard was active.

All these problems, scoreboards, D1/D2 championships, idiotic H.S rule changes,etc, all can be solved if every dues paying member takes 10 minutes and writes to their congressman or whomever and get those expats up in Boulder out of office. If you're a dues paying member, you SHOULD have a voice in how things are run. Now I'm sure there are maybe one or two expats in Boulder that are doing a decent job, but the rest aren't and have to go. I know if I was in England as an American and dictated to them how to play cricket, they'd tell me to piss off. We need to do the same for those people in Boulder who are doing nothing more then collecting checks. It seems our national rugby mags here are afraid to question the head honchos at USAR HQ. Yes, ARN and erugby news, I'm calling you out. You guys are in the know and have access to these douches and do nothing to rattle their cages on the seriousness of their failures. Sure you'll howl at the moon, but in the end, it's all noise and no action. I'm sure they have told you to shut up and color or they'll freeze you out of broadcasts/access or what not but to be face to face with these inept jerk offs and say/do nothing, makes you no better then them.
I havent followed rugby here long in the states, but have read all your horror stories enough to see that as long as you have these expats and incompetents in the wrong positions dictating policy in Boulder, the longer USA Rugby will be mismanaged and put deeper into turmoil. I'm sure we have enough competent people here in the states to take those positions and who WILL make a difference for the better of USA Rugby.

I'm in no way defending the Board or brass in Boulder, but consider a few things:

1) The majority of the "worker bees" in Boulder make jack squat. As one former staffer told me once, "I make slightly about homeless guy wages". As a logical extension of that, you get what you pay for.

2)As far as Melville goes, I'm not sure of what to make of him -- he seems pretty competent, has a decent background. The real issue is communication and transparency. There are many, many challenges facing the development of the game here, and with little communication around why certain things are being done, everyone assumes the worst (i.e., most of the posters on this blog). He could very well be incompetent, but who would know? What's the rationale behind some of these decisions and plans? Frankly, the overall communications (media, marketing, member communications) is garbage. A little honest communication goes a long way.

3) It appears to me that the real culpability lies with the Board. What, exactly are they doing as all this transpires? Again, they could be working their butts off, but who would know?

And I'm not sure this "bring in an American" populist BS will get anything done, either. Look what we got with Arnot....

DaTruth/David C,

The USAR Congress has no power or guts.

The new Board have been clever in creating a process where Congress has no real role in the administration of the union. With this said, they could make some noise, but they are mostly a gutless bunch, afraid to put their hand up in public and take on this sham of an administration.

This leaves us with two power brokers in Roberts, Chair and Melville, CEO.

Considering all factors, Melville had been a expensive disaster. He has failed his position in every way imaginable.

In the strangest of ways he provides Roberts and his hand-picked Board with cover.

Melville needs to be fired. US rugby needs new executive leadership. Anything short of a clean slate will continue us downward.

I think you've got it right. Melville and crew required 8 Div2 teams to travel across country, house, feed and travel themselves. Required them to take an extra day off school, to suit BYU, a team not even in their competition.

While for their pleasure he couldn't arrange a $500 rented scoreboard. He managed to sell the National Guard title sponsorship of the event, but didn't manage to buy the teams a stinking pancake breakfast.

He walked around tweeking on about a $1000 a day, which is the fee we pay him. California, full expenses, nothing much to do and a grand a day. Aw the good life.

Let's get down to brass tacks. Let's hear a list of failures or bad decisions that Melville has made. I hear a lot of accusations or incompetence, but very little to back it up. And I'm talking about decisions HE made, rather than things that have been happening for years, that he has yet to change.

For one, I can think of the scheduling of the Ireland match.

Would be interested to see some actual facts, though, rather than baseless accusations.

I see a lot of knocks but not much by way of meaningful suggestions. If you were CEO, what specifically would you do in the first one year.

Hopefully your response is more than buy scoreboards and fire xyz. Who would you hire, what would you do, and with what money? What would be your specific priorities?


I don't buy the premise that we evaluate our high priced CEO only on the decisions he's made, rather than the things he has yet to change.

The reason US rugby elected a higher profile CEO was to push the union forward, to accomplish things and fix things. This hasn't happened. It would have been unfair to have judged Melville too quickly, but now several season down the road, we should evaluate him on what he has accomplished and the cupboard is bear.

Understand Melville was given the most favorable start of any union executive ever.

A $275k multi-year contract, complete with moving expenses and full benefits. This is over one hundred grand more than the last guy.

He was hand delivered a streamlined Board. No more battles with the 38 dorks and thieves. Now just a Board of the good and great to better focus the CEO on the job at hand.

And to make sure there were no excuses, millions in free dollars from the IRB. First they eliminated the restrictions on our grants, so the money could be used to pay ordinary expenses, then they nearly double the amount. More money coming through the door than any union executive ever had at their disposal.

What Melville has accomplished with this is a disgrace. He has accomplished less than any leader that has gone before. Melville can't after several season in the power seat point to one accomplishment.

Now, make your list from here. The national HS champions are a mess because of union leadership.

Johnson saga.

HQ office putting out less service with more dues.

National teams at all levels but 7's in decline.

One union sponsor, delivered by a HS parent. Not one other significant sponsor.

By any professional measurement Nigel Melville has failed US rugby as a CEO. He should be thanked and replaced.

wake up-

I'm not saying that he shouldn't be focusing on and fixing known existing issues. But for the purposes of this conversation, every poster here will have a different idea of what Melville should be fixing -- and there's a lot to fix.

One myth that needs dispelling is this "millions in free dollars from the iRB" -- these dollars have strings attached to them -- i.e., what they're to be used for. It's not as if he's been given a blank check.

"Understand Melville was given the most favorable start of any union executive ever." I doubt it.

Listen, I fundamentally agree with the premise: the Union, at present, is dysfunctional.

I'd just prefer to talk facts and have a constructive discussion, complete with ideas and solutions, rather than listen to a bunch of armchair CEOs whine about how they could do it better.

I haven't heard anybody say they could do better.

I've heard a few say Melville isn't earning his corn, which I agree with.

I also agree that he had an easier start compared to all others.

The IRB millions which no other USAR CEO had the benefit of, pay for much of the Eagles budget and much of the rep rugby budget. Every other CEO had to find a way to raise these funds. Melville has raise dues and accepted IRB welfare, that's it.

Melville can't point to one significant thing he has accomplished. He is into USAR for over a million bucks in compensation and he hasn't done squat.

Scott Johnson use to call him sexy fingers, because every bit of work he touches he fu*ks.

The amount of waste still going on in Boulder is mind blowing.

DaTruth, you can have him. He's your man. When Melville finds that job he's been looking for over the past year, you can defend him right out the door. He will leave without have accomplishing anything. We can put a volunteer in as CEO, if we don't care that they accomplish anything.

Report Card

1)Working Governance...decreased D-
2)Coordinating International and Domestic Schedules...decreased D-
3)Media Relations...decreased D-
4)Membership Communication... decreased D-
5)Dues...increased D-
6)Membership Services...decreased C-
7)Number of Union Employees... increased C-
8)Sponsorships...decreased C-
9)Varsity Model...decreased F
10)Test Results...decreased D-

Nigel Melville - 275,000
CIPP Members - 0

I don't know how long you have been around College Rugby, but the current system, and the tweaks you propose are ridiculous.

I guess some pinheads don't understand that rugby is a SPRING SPORT. This insanity is coach driven. Chasing National Championships at the expense of legitimizing the game as a SPRING SPORT is absolute insanity.

The game needs 2 or three more home games on campus in April. This is part of the reason why the elite College Rugby Clubs will break off.

Unfortunately, you are part of the problem with your March Madness and Balloon Parks.

Duh truth,
You know as well as I that your questions have been answered logically and thoughtfully dozens of times. It has been written about and debated ad nauseum.

Suffice to say that my wife could do a better job, during her lunch breaks.

usarfu rugby in the current setup
can not manage usa rugby.

usarfu has made a living by having the TU's / LAU's manage themselves - with the caveat they pay dues up to usarfu.

usarfu limits participation with: eligibility rules/rulings -
league classifications -
no competition from starup leagues -
ownership of referee's
ownership of "national championships"

why blame melville? he is one part "public relations" and one part "international networking"...he is doing the job he was "hired" to do... basically.

usarfu are a union right?

can we vote to disband?

why let it continue?

Missing Link,

You seem very insistent on the Spring aspect of it, which leads me to believe that you are a west coaster.

Rugby is thriving in the fall in many parts of the country.

"rugby thriving in the fall"

Well thats a laugh your ass off statement. Thriving!

OK, so you don't like my choice of words, but it's impossible to ignore the massive number of matches taking place every weekend in the fall throughout the East Coast.

You are correct that fan-less, media-less matches are indeed played.

Fall Rugby = arrogant ass. excuuuuuse the east coast for playing during the time there isnt 6 inches of snow on the ground or its below 30 degrees.

Missing Link/You're Sh*tting me/Fall Rugby,

You are proving yourself to be an ignorant ass. At least pick one username and stick to it, then at least we know which if the pathetic anonymous messages come from you.

"Fan-less" - Really? Because the matches I've attended have a decent gathering.

Media-less? - They are reported on ARN and eRugbynews and in the local and school press. I'm pretty sure that's about the same as your precious WestCoast teams (Cal and BYU excepted of course)

The Northern Hemisphere Rugby season is September through May. It's not the East Coast's fault that you guys decide not to bother playing until January.

I do not live on the West Coast,
I have lived in Northeast and South. I grew up in America, played most sports and was a scholarship athlete.

Rugby was a spring sport in the East when I played, although games (friendlies were played in the Fall). Unfortunately, the split season has hurt those Northeast teams, as the playoffs are already decided by the time winter is over. This means that for 3/4 of the teams, the Spring is meaningless and the season is over by the time Spring begins.

By doing this, you lose out on developing better athletes, developing relationships in the community and campuses when Spring rolls around.

You guys from the Northeast complain about your weather, but then you stop playing games in early Spring? You may say, "this is the hand we are dealt, we are doing the best we can". That's a load. Many East teams are idle in the Spring, waiting 2 or 3 weeks between matches with this silly playoff structure. Fact is that you missed out on at least one elite athlete this year because your league is so disorganized. Those guys are hard to come by.

I think for the NE teams the system is working OK. Everyone plays a competitive fall season in their leagues, culminating in the playoffs in November.

Then in the new year, the teams who made the playoffs arrange a competitive schedule (in many cases utilizing the increasing number of FieldTurf pitches to ensure they can be played), to tune up for the playoffs. The teams who did not make playoffs are free to arrange as tough or as light of a schedule as they want.

Having the country play two different seasons is not ideal, but it does work. Also, this is taking into account the club teams as well as the college teams.

why not have two separate seasons...

east coast and west coast. . .

two seperate leagues...

create a rivalry....??

we dont do this becuase? it is the way we always have done it?

we really need one season because? it is the way the other great rugby playing countries do it?

how about we make this sport american? put our stamp on it....make it ours, grow it and then win...?

NM: "Now that we've killed off this notion that HS rugby is the future and have moved more inline with what we do at home, the game will be free to grow."

You are as wrong as anyone could ever be!

Top down growth will never work.
Bottom (HS and below) is where it needs to happen!

HS rugby and below is exactly the future of rugby in the USA.

Nick, what you guys are doing in New England makes sense to you? I wont get flippant about your recent successes. The successful club models play Spring only in your neck of the woods.

Having played and coached in both split seasons and Spring only, I will tell you from a performance standpoint, the Spring far exceeds the split. As a player there is no doubt which I would prefer to play. Unfortunately the current playoff structure makes a Spring only set-up very difficult.

If performance, growth, and legitimacy are the goals of USArFU, they need to take a long hard look at the comps and the illogical playoff system which produces a void in what should be the heart of the season. Where I live most clubs were finished playing rugby before Spring really. That is insane.


I'm not defending it, I just go out there and referee what they tell me to referee.

All I know is that I'm flying down to Columbia this weekend, and some of the teams there will have been competing since September 2008 to qualify for this tournament, and some since February.

It doesn't seem logical, but the weather in this country makes it hard to find a balance. The fall is a great time to play rugby in New England, but January, February and March are brutal. However those months out west are beautiful. I started 2009 in March refereeing in Utah in 80 degree sunshine, while my fellow refs in the NorthEast were trying to figure out exactly how many layers of underarmor will fit under a jersey.

Trust me, I'm not saying the system works, I was simply objecting to people making derogatory comments about the people in the North who are working damn hard on their rugby.

not getting our money worth, The Shepard -- re-read the post. I said that I fundamentally agree with the premise, I just like to deal in fact, rather then in rumor and innuendo like the armchair CEOs who can't manage their bathroom break to blather on about how Melville is failing. I'll use smaller words next time so you can understand (now I remember why I stopped reading this blog....).

As for Link, the idea that rugby is a spring sport is because..... you said so? Maybe it's you all out there on the West Coast that are screwing up the program because you insist on the Spring season?!? You can certainly play rugby in the fall.

On the East Coast the collegiate Spring season consists of about a 6-8 week window in which they can be out on the field -- between when schools will let them out on the fields to Finals. And the first few weeks are pretty unpredictable with many cancellations due to weather.

So, again, why can't the West Coast play a Fall season?

Because that is how we role in the west. Deal with it.


Because its dumb to go head to head with our national sport, for athletes, sponsors, media and fans.

Because we realize that our girlfriends are just that, not fans. Because we understand that ERN and ARN aren't media, they are web sites run out of a back bedroom.

Because we realize that the 2 month Fall season played in much of the snow states is too short for anything other than a hand full of matches.

Because even though we feel sorry for those ruggers needed to play a split season, we aren't dumb enough to follow this lead.



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