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10 October 2011

Comments

I get first post ahhh just breathing in I can feel the energy returning.

First, what a great bit of research by Kurt, tons of information.

I think it interesting to discuss what is the ROI for the approach and the IRB funding. Obviously it has not led to new commercial revenue, but has it led to other sources, given USA Rugby a leg up with the USOC, etc?

USA Sevens has leveraged at least 3m in sponsorship in 2011 alone in this period with 2 events, so it can be done.

USA Chairman and board say that it cannot be done (commercial income) from their last several board reports.

So is the dilemma just belief?

Failure is obvious, but for what reasons.

I am sure you will be discussion alternatives, solutions and the like moving forward. This feels like the first in a series of articles.

"By way of contrast, Tom Billups once summarily cut a prospect for admitting he would rather play for his native Canada."
thought he was Iowa born and raised.....

Yeah, real good research. James Patterson may have been born in New Zealand, but lived and played his rugby in the U.S. (colorado) He also was a helluva high school football player who may have been playing college football if the coach wouldn't have said no to rugby in the offseason. Moved back to New Zealand after high school to play pro rugby and study. Do just a tiny bit more research and your argument would've held water.

A few minor critiques:
- "Foreign born" is not at all the same as "import", especially in a country like the US. Guys like Basauri and Ngwenya came to this country for reasons that had nothing to do with rugby, and in the former case his native country had nothing to do with making him a rugby player. To lump them in with, say, Tyrone Coppedge, doesn't make a lot of sense.

- A link to a single blog post does not demonstrate that Roberts "persistently blogs about ways the Kiwi union could increase its revenue". There's a case to be made that Roberts is awful in his role, but that's not it.


Regarding professionalism, Thorburn had it all wrong. "We have to create a professional league in the country so young players will start playing." Looking around at all the professional sports in this country, did a single one of them start before there were already many young people playing?

I agree that we need professional rugby in this country, but it will be ages before it is viable (even with IRB money). In the meantime, the foundation of building the market to support professional rugby requires a lot of effort. Continue to grow youth rugby (and it's rate of growth is very exciting) and amateur club rugby and eventually professional rugby might make sense to people who aren't planning on throwing money away.

Or Pat Guthrie will create it next year.

@ RWC2051. classic demand side vs supply side economics. USAR thinks if they can just provide the product (a successful Eagles team or a pro league) that the demand will follow. We think that if you build the demand (growing youth,HS,college rugby) then there will be support for those products. Supply side economics have failed for the past 10 years in this country (Bush tax cuts = zero job creation) and it is no different with a top-down rugby development model.

RWC2051 - Agree. Professionalizing the game here would be like watching Akron vs Canton during the first NFL season. back in the 1920's. Still nobody would show up and those teams and leagues would be broke within a few years.

My hope is if the IRB continues to fund the USAR that they see the only way to move the sport forward here is via Youth Rugby and helping grow Collegiate rugby. The more schools we get with Varsity status and who give out scholarships, the better we'll be down the road. There isnt a coach out there that pushes their players harder than a parent hell-bent on his kid getting a full-ride. the more scholarships there are the more youth rugby will take off. The more youth rugby takes off, Maybe the more support there would be for a pro league.

Scott Johnson left because he wasn't paid for some months right? And was misled about there being a plan for a professional league? And when he got here, there was nothing.....

I'm a high school coach with a blue chip player who is being heavily recruited for football by major universities. I'd like USA RFU to help us come up with alternatives for players like this who we are developing at the h.s. level but who can see no future for themselves over the next 4 years in rugby. No scholarships, no college recruiting, no empasis focused at the level between h.s. and pro. The Collegiate 7's and 15's are a step in the right direction, but we've got to sell the sport to collegiate AD's. Our local Big Ten schools are not interested in rugby beyond being a club sport curiosity. There is a big link missing in the pathway from youth to the Eagles.

7 vs. 15's

Reread the sentence about Billups cutting a player. The guy was a duel citizen who could have played for either Canada or the U.S. and was recorded saying he would really rather play for Canada. Likely what Tyrone and others thought.

Mike Brooks.

I bet most will agree with you. Speaking of the Big Ten, someone posted how the Athletic Director of Michigan was turned into a lacrosse fan. I believe it will take similar conversions for rugby. I do think some of the new leagues will help that. Especially the Southeastern Rugby Conference and the Atlantic Coast Rugby League.

Random: though maybe they should have called it the Atlantic Coast Rugby Conference, so as not to confuse rugby league fans.

Pretty sure the ACRL cared more about what the lawyers for the ACC thought than what any Rugby League fans might have thought.

I think Michigan's AD was swayed by the almighty dollar. One key ingredient in Michigan adding Lacrosse as a varsity sport was a massive fundraising venture. I believe Michigan Lacrosse was tasked with raising something like $6 Million in order to become varsity and their supporters and lacrosse fanbase knocked it out of the park.

Could the same be said of rugby?

As much as I'd like to believe rugby could raise those types of funds, we all know that we aren't even close. Most teams are living from one fund raiser to the next and we're talking about millions of $$$ needed to get a seat at the AD's table.

How can we change that?

We can't. For some reason, the people who play rugby are on the whole the cheapest people in the country. Ask any college team how hard it is to pull money from their rugby alumni. Check out how much we complain about $40 dues to USAR (yes, I recognize there's more principle involved in those complaints, but still, it's $40-in contrast, I happily paid $60 to run in a half marathon this past weekend, which wa sa total of 1 hour and 35 minutes of activity plus a t-shirt). Rugby players won't pay to go to high caliber rugby events. Meanwhile 100,000 people flock to the NCAA lacrosse final four every year.

@TOS,
thanks for the clarification...i will blame Kurt's sophisticated style more than my 2.7 gpa public education.

@$$$, Most colleges have no idea what they are doing as far as marshaling their alumni and raising money. The teams that do succeed and raise plenty of money. You need adult administrators and a serious plan instead of student officers trying to sell t-shirts.

I dont know if it is fare to call rugby people cheap. It just doesnt make any sense. Though pointing out where lax is vs rugby is important

Another option to get Eagles players and coaches paid is to create rugby jobs for the players and coaches. Eagles players and coaches could train half the year and work at rugby camps/academies the other half of the year. Pay each of the players and coaches $500 per day. 100 days of work would get $50,000 to a player/coach. Camp size would be about 20 paying players/coaches for each Eagle Player/Coach. The Camps/Academies could be the core of the US rugby player pathway.

sevens, do you have your own blog. That could be an interesting idea, but with it being so plainly stated, I can't tell if that's even feasible.

How many camps/academies would you have? How many days would each camp/academy be? How much would you charge the athletes that come to these camps to learn?

When you just throw out an idea, I think most people would like a little more than, this is a great idea.

I like it, but I just don't know about the feasibility.

The MLL (lax pro league) is filled with part-time players. I think they get like $500 per game. The key is that most of them have other jobs in lacrosse, primarily as assistant coaches at colleges. It allows them to work in a high performance environment and train alongside the players that they coach. They get to work out with varsity S&C coaches. Live and breathe lacrosse. They don't make alot of money, but it is enough to live on and then they play pro lax during the summer. Would love to see this happen in rugby, but the money is not there for college coaches as of right now. But imagine if instead of Billups being the asst. coach at Cal, it was Blaine Scully and Colin Hawley. Instead of Kimball Kjar at BYU, it was Ryan Chapman. So on and so forth.

@college, have to agree with $$$ regarding our stereotypical demographic and their economic impact. Remember we are only a few years removed from the whole "drinking team with a rugby problem" mentality.

I can remember OMBAC hosting the nationals, doing a fairly good job, giving to the community etc., and watching 5 or 6 men in their mid thirties (in front of kids) trying to beat the $5 ish gate by hopping the rent a fence. Too much of this still exists and holds true the stereotypes many people have.

Think about Mark Cuban. He played the game, enjoyed it for what it was worth but does not touch it in a significant way due to the stigma that may touch his other business holdings. He experienced first hand the fun and comraderie of the game. Undoubtedly, he also experienced the dark underbelly of too many social misfits, non-athletes, and perpetual hangers on that populate even "storied" American clubs.

Truth is, despite all efforts Clark, Billups, Thorburn, Johnson and now O'Sullivan have not had good enough results for to get the real significant $$$ needed to improve the Eagles.

Does anyone think Samu Manoa, Nate Ebner, the defensive tackle (Ngota?, albeit 60lbs lighter) from the Ravens that was on the Highland team a few years back would not have improved the Eagles results? I'm sure there are a few more but all of the above did not play for the Eagles due to $$$$.

While all the talk of "respect for the jumper" etc., is great, until there is more money (& therefore athletes like above & better)we will continue to be the doormat of world rugby.

not so sure the MLL is a useful analogy as they are strictly a domestic competition whereas we are attempting to elevate our national team on par with our international brethren...which of the three choices/options college, club or academy is most viable to elevate our play? currently the youth rugby explosion is our best and possibly our only affordable option...

At $100 per day per player/coach attending, camps can cover be profitable with a 20 to 1 student to coach ratio. Overnight room and board can be arranged for about $75 per night depending on the city. Many rugby camps already exist but few employee Eagles. A 100 player/coach camp would employ 5 Eagles. Camps in rugby and other sports range from 1 to 7 days. Billions of dollars is already spent in the US on sport camps. Summer is the obvious time to hold camps but they are other good times around holidays throughout the year. A lot of the infrastructure is already in place. Serevi is the best example of a US based elite rugby camp and there are many other rugby camps for youth and high school. The challenge for USAR is to develop a product that people are willing to pay for. The current USAR coaching clinics are not a good example of a product worth paying for. Marketing is the key as getting 100's people to sign up for camps is challenging. USAR struggles with communication so they likely could not handle the marketing. Potentailly USAR could license the USAR camps to a third party as they did with USA Sevens. A for-profit model would bring needed professionalism to camp adminstration and potentially attract capital to accelerate development and roll-out. Sales commissions would be helpful to incent clubs to fill-up camps. This is feasible and has been validated in other sports. Like many things in US rugby, the challenge is getting USAR to focus.

I disagree. Hundreds and hundreds of clubs at every level survive solely on the generosity of their supporters. I dont think many other sports would survive and succeed to this degree if they had to operate in the way college programs do. I dont see many post-college adult sport competitions like we have for rugby that get all their money from their stakeholders. "If people in NZ or England had to go through what Americans had to go through to play rugby, they'd be playing something else" I dont know who said it, maybe EOS, but I believe it. I think the alleged cheapness you think exists is anecdotal and not the reality. I think if 1st rate products/events were offered to us rugby fans, then we'd pay out. and i think if college programs knew how to really fundraise (only a select few do) then you would see a lot more donation success.

Well I have just read the good ideas of 22 individuals.

Problem is the guy making $300k and his staff making $800k combined have offered squat.

The mighty Chairman and his board of big timers have offered squat.

That is what is wrong. Fire these people and something better will for sure happen.

If we want fire USAR management we need to get the clubs orgnanized now. 5 of the 9 USAR Board positions are up for appointment in 2012. Under current bilaws, TU's appoint most of the Congress Memebers and Congress appoints the Board Members. Clubs need to make sure their reps in their TU/Conference/SBRO are pushing USAR in the right direction.

There is no representation on Congress for college conferences or SBROs. Which is fine. The less these groups are connected to USAR, the better. The sooner they secede and go it on their own, the better.

MLL is the perfect analogy. The question was how to domestically professionalize a niche team sport. That's the model. Whether we can feasibly copy it is the question.

Well Done Kurt, much work to do USAR, or not do and spin out if not interested.

Mr. Brooks, wondering if you've tried contacting any of the men's teams in your area, perhaps even the Chicago Super League clubs (assuming they're the closest if you're in and around the Big 10 schools)? Chatting with their coaches or some of the players involved in the Eagle setup would be beneficial in highlighting for your player that there are opportunities beyond h.s. and college rugby - good opportunities. Someone like Phil Eloff can speak to playing professionally, even if he did forego that opportunity himself.

Anyone else have any ideas about helping Mike Brooks, or tried to reach out to him? Would hate to see his player, or any other player, leave rugby for a (perceived) lack of opportunities. This is a strikingly specific example of something that can be done on a local level to help the game.

My two cents.

There has been a great deal of discussion in Australian Rugby forums regarding the integration of Argentina into the SANZAR Rugby alliance. Most specifically, how to accommodate Argentine players. While, it would be possible to launch a Buenos Aires based Super Rugby franchise (in fact there is speculation that there just might happen in 2015) there is a significant consensus that opening a number of squad places for foreign players ( 5 is my ideal number). Guaranteeing Argentina around 50% of those (depending if the 16th franchise out of Port Elizabeth in South Africa comes online in 2013) that would open 40 odd spots for prospective players particularly in the US. Thoughts?

Professional rugby in the USA will not happen until there is NCAA rugby and pockets of thriving high school rugby on par with what you see in Texas, Florida or Alabama with American football. Clubs will not be able to be the catalyst for pro rugby in the USA. No infrastructure or resources. High schools and colleges have these two key components. It is elementary.

Screw the Commonwealth model and trying to launch a city-based pro league. These are too lofty for goals and not immediately achievable.

HTU and most on this blog are spot on about how to make "it" happen. MLL and MLS are great examples of how a proliferated NCAA-sanctioned college game fed by thousands of HS & youth lacrosse and soccer teams make for a viable pro league. We are in the top 8 internationally in both lax and soccer as well.

Even if we don't have a pro league we could still develop international-caliber athletes through the collegiate NCAA system. Look at sports like water polo, softball, rowing, track & field, wrestling, and volleyball. There are no pro leagues to support these sports and no big dollar regularly broadcasted events to speak of (other than their annual nat'l championships). This provides an excellent platform for placing athletes overseas as well.

It's a tried and true process we know that works. It all starts with solid American leadership guiding great American athletes....

@Rugbymas:
I recall an interview with Scott LaValla touting the college experience in Ireland. I believe he said Trinity was less expensive than a state university. If I was a HS senior rugby player, I'd be looking at Davenport, Life and Lindenwood. They seem to be the only schools with rugby scholarships on offer. That is if a scholarship was necessary.

Maybe pushing the IRB to fund college scholarships would help kids stay in the sport. Its better than throwing money down the drain year after year with the Eagles.

Take a million dollars from the IRB and fund the D1A teams (26) by providing each of them with 4 partial scholarships per year. I think a bunch 10K scholarships would keep some kids in the sport. Maybe split it in half and have (8) 5K scholarships.

Either way, we must provide kids opportunities to stay in the sport and scholarships is the way to do that. How we go about funding that is a different and much more difficult argument in my opinion. But using IRB dollars on it wouldn't be a bad start.

One thing soccer has the lacrosse does not is a lot of elite soccer appearing on TV around the world and elite soccer content has made it on to TV screens in the US. This dramtically increases the amount of sponsor money spent on soccer vs lacrosse.

Rugby is finally getting out from the old Setanta pay per view model with NBC Universal and Fox Soccer broadcasts. Heiniken Cup, Super XV, 6 Nations, Tri-Nations and Fall Tours are all solid TV products. So sponsors are spending a bit more money on rugby but not enough yet to change the game.

Sadly with all the development of soccer in youth programs, colleges, academies, a pro league and players playing abroad, FIFA ranks the US #31 in the world.

The US is #1 in Basketball and #6 in Ice Hockey. Both global Olympic sports.

The US did just win the Lacrosse World Cup in 2010 but there are only 23 teams in the Internatinal Lacrosse Federation. Lacrosse is not an Olympic sport and was last a demonstration sport in 1948. Lacrosse has outperformed rugby in its development in the US but has the advantage of being home grown with the US dominating from the beginning of international competition.

And of course the US are "World Champions" in American Football and Baseball. Niether of which are in the Olympics (Baseball was eliminated after 2008).

@Clay-
The argument you will here from USAR on that is that the IRB dictates how its funds are going to be used, and they want them used on the Eagles, "high performance," etc. What we need are people in charge at USAR who can explain to the IRB why that is NOT the way to grow the sport in the USA and why exactly what yoiu proposed would be a more beneficial use of their grants. Right now we either do not have those people in charge or the ones we do have aren't interested in questioning the IRB. There is a Board member who played football in college instead of rugby because he could get grants to play football, but not to play rugby. He should be front and center before the IRB explinaing how things work here.

*hear, *you. I need to proofread.

You're right $$$. We need someone on the board who understands the problem and who can articulate it to the IRB overlords

Side question: What does Cal do with their 4 Million Dollar war chest? Do they offer any of their kids scholarships? I know they pay their coaching staff a decent amount, but does anything go back to the kids. Honest question as I do not know.

Also, Davenport, Life and Lindenwood...? What's their deal with scholarship money? They must be giving something out... right? I mean I know OSU isnt the team they were back in the 90's, but damn! Getting beat 75-0 to Davenport... That just doesnt happen without Davenport going Varsity with University dollars. they have to be giving something out. partial, full, anyone know?

"America's squad contained the World Cup's second-highest total of foreign-born players" is an outright lie that you keep repeating shamelessly. The article this quote references is wrong, and it's been addressed in your comments section before.

Of the 12 so-called foreign players...

-5 are from American Samoa. Which is part of America. Yep.
-2 were born overseas but naturalized here as young children.
-2 moved here by high school and played high school rugby in the U.S.

So, really, we're talking about 3 so-called 'imports.'

In other words, STOP REPEATING THIS LIE.

One in twelve people living in the US is foreign born so one would expect some "imports" on any roster. The problem is that USAR has focused most of their efforts looking for imports and exporting talent to clubs abroad while doing very little to develop elite players in the US. The US has almost 90 players playing soccer abroad in addition to a domestic pro-league and a national sytem of academies and the NCAA sanctioned college game. Any rugby national team roster will be a combination of imports, exports, and players developed in US colleges and clubs. Sadly only a handful of US colleges and clubs are producing players with elite potential and the clubs have done this one their own with USAR adding little value. At minimum, USAR needs to provide colleges and clubs with a template for elite player development including performance expectations.

Sevens: "One thing soccer has the lacrosse does not..."

Soccer also has a ridiculous number of youth players, and has for a long time. Which, while that didn't use to mean much, *does* mean that it has a large audience that understands what the game is. If you don't think this disparity matters, walk out on the street and ask 10 people the basics of soccer vs. lacrosse. With lacrosse, you might get a "uh, is that the guy played with a stick?" if they know anything about it at all.

@Clay

Cal lives off of the fact that Northern California youth & HS rugby is 20 years ahead of the rest of the country. St Mary's too. Cal does not offer scholarships, but does offer admission to applicants that would never get into the school unless they are a person of interest to one of the varsity sports. Cal is arguably one of the best public schools in the country and if you're a California resident - see not about Nor Cal youth and HS rugby - it is the best education you can get for the lowest cost. No parent is going to turn it down. Once in Cal the rugby squad gets the same academic perks that the rest of the varsity athletes at Cal get (i.e. Athletic Department assigned and dedicated tutors, study groups, labs, pre-registration for classes, special permissions to miss classes or tests to compete, etc).

These perks are massive to get the best athletes available, but also to be able to train and compete with little to no distractions. Think about it. Cal does not need to recruit students to play rugby and have rugby fit with their academic schedule. Cal never has to worry about a student athlete having a class conflict with their training schedule. Your first choice #10 has a test on the day you're meant to travel to nationals, no problem he has the full backing of the Athletic Department and the professor just deals with it. Your best tight head prop is having problems with grades, no problem a staff of tutors, reserved classrooms and schedule study labs with other student athletes is at your disposal to coordinate with the student athletes professors to make sure that individual is given the attention required to pass. Varsity vs. Club is no contest. Cal is at a knife fight with a bazooka.

With the latest bit of money raised Cal rugby has over $10,000,000 in endowments. They also have a strong sponsorship program as well as strong income from ticketing and concession etc.

Cal does not offer rugby scholarships, something to do with the schools Title 9 situation. Team budgets cover 100% of the player and team costs, except tuition and living expenses.

You don't need scholarships when you're a public school and your recruiting base is in state. Add the fact that Cal is the best public university in the country and you don't have to do much selling. Saying Cal doesn't give scholarships like it is a badge of honor is just spin. If Cal needed scholarships to get student athletes to play there, they would do it just like the football and basketball team do at Cal.

Also, considering that the number of Cal recruits that are from California private high schools like Jesuit and the fact is that these parents paid more for one year of high school than for one year of in-state tuition at Cal. Going to Cal saves these parents money and their kid gets access to tutors for free. Please no more spin Bear.

Growth of the youth game will hopefully improve the public's knowledge of rugby. NorCal is a great example of how regional rugby development can produce top rugby athletes. Cal didn't wait for USAR or IRB or sponsors to give them money. Cal did not always have access to high performance - they negotiated and fought for it. USAR didn't help Cal start their rugby camps. Cal built their own program over the years and are now the model program in the US. To some they are the Evil Empire. What is it about almost every other college rugby program that prevents them from developing a rugby program like Cal's? There was a day, perhaps long ago, when Cal Rugby had no money or high performancee assets like most college rugby teams today.

bazookas dont go "bang bang". they go "pshhhoooooooo...BOOOM"

Cal and BYU are pretty unbeatable. but that doesnt mean they didnt work hard to earn their advantages. life's unfair. just the facts.

Was not intending any badge of honor. Just lying out the facts. I heard JC give a presentation the other night were he gave the parents credit for being Cal rugby's largest source of income. He said the families pay $2,000,000 per year in tuition and living expenses. Just facts.

Not a bad idea to keep track of this stuff. Some schools offer scholarships. Others offer in-state fees to out-of-state (foreign) students. Cal offers neither. The Cal families in state or out are paying full retail. I understand this is similar to most other schools.

Bang, brings up some good points. Much of Cal's roster is made up of kids that went to private high school's. This normally means the parents value education and can afford the tuition. It doesn't matter how good of a rugby player you are if you can't afford the university costs you aren't going to Cal.

Once again, no credit asked for or needed for our situation at Cal. Cal was a good team in the 1880's and a good team every decade thereafter. Much changes every few years but the team has stayed consistently good.

@sevens,
you are most correct, having watched the cal program closely, what they are today is the result of a 25 year effort, started in earnest by Ned Anderson and with a kill or be killed mantra by JC, a meteoric rise to a program that is the envy of all....or by most.

"And of course the US are "World Champions" in American Football and Baseball."

Actually Japan won the World Baseball Classic in 2009, beating Korea (South Korea). That would make Japan the world champs.

Like stated above, Cal has been handing out beatdowns for over a century and we like it that way. Varsity vs. Clubs you say. Deal with it sucker.

Just take your medicine like a good little B!#*H because nothing is going to change.

Haters gonna hate. Go Bears!

Who was hating? Yours was the first hateful comment I've read in this discussion.

Cal is a great, great program, but BYU does more with fewer resources than any other team in America. Only one partially (slightly might be a better way to put it) compensated coach and a group of dedicated volunteer coaches and hangers-on. The kids pay over $500 each per year to play. The best compensated person at BYU Rugby is the trainer. No endowment at all, NONE. And many kids come to BYU because it has relatively low tuition for LDS members. Many think that the school pays for the Rugby program. They do fund a small budget each year, but funding pressures dominate every aspect of the program. On nearly every trip, the players stay overnight with members (rather than in hotels) who feed them breakfast. This is good PR, since the members usually have children who idolize the players and want to grow up to be like them, but it also dramatically helps make ends meet.

You've seen the intensity with which BYU approaches their games. They're amazingly focused. And the rivalry that they've created with Cal since they've been allowed to play in the championships is a "franchise" worth exploiting. There should be a Rugby Bowl played in a 50,000 seat venue at the end of every season between these two absolutely amazing programs.

Just my 2 cents.

BYU is like 1-5 against Cal in finals. We own them!

Still wondering why Cal avoids playing University of Victoria and instead opts to only play the much weaker UBC year after year. Cal consistently "owning" the domestic collegiate competiton is not serving any national goal. Cal produces many of the players for the Eagles player pool and the Eagles are not very good.

If we want a better national team, we need more programs like Cal and BYU feeding the national team pool. Best practices from Cal, BYU and Life need to be copied across college rugby. It will take time, but improvement should be expected every year. The administration and fiscal health of college rugby teams must improve if the NCAA is ever going to get involved in a meaningful way.

And the top schools like Cal, BYU, and Life need to seek out tougher non-league competition abroad to develop their players to better prepare them for the Eagles and international competition.

Great post Kurt. Very telling that Roberts "declined to respond".

Our "leadership" is a parasite on our organization. All players and teams should refuse to pay CIPP dues until changes are made from the top down.

Clubs and college teams are effectively self-funded anyways. The CPL and RSL could easily schedule their own games and playoffs without the "marketing and logistical genius" coming out of Boulder. D1 teams (due to the vast geographic spread and number of team) might need to forgo a national championship tournament for one season and instead focus on local competitions.

At this point USA Rugby needs to be bankrupted and killed off entirely in order to let change occur. Clear the "Board of Directors" is toothless and will never mandate change anyways.

Good to know on Cal. Thanks for all your comments.

Anyone got info on what Davenport and Lindenwood are now doing? I'd like to know who approached those schools with the Varsity proposal. And what they said to their AD's that other teams are not saying.

It would be great if Cal & BYU created a best practices for the rest of the country to follow. How they get money out of their alumni, parents and sponsors would be very valuable information for the rest of the country.

Like Sevens was saying, if we had about 20 more programs like BYU & Cal the Eagles would be that much better.

@Bear Backer,

Please don't play into the "we own them" "beat-downs" stereo type. With the Cal team's success comes some hate, us fans should not act like we are winners for the first time. The Cal team is one of the few sides in the country which keeps elaborate historical records. Any blogger can find how the team has performed over the last 130 years.

@Sevens,

Cal hasn't refused to play anyone. Cal has a rivalry which dates to the 1930's with UBC. It is the team's most important rivalry. The Bears have no other such rivalry in Canada. The Cal-UVic matches have been good. The web site has Cal last beating the Vikes in Berkeley and the UVic hasn't been back. UBC comes to Berkeley every year. The strength of the UVic team is clear. The rugby academy on the Island has helped to make them the top team. They have also had a series of Canadian national team coaches at the helm. About UVic the Bears old guard would say UVic who? How did we do in the World Cup (named after the Vancouver World newspaper) verses UBC?

Sevens, not sure what you mean by Cal not "serving any national goal". Aren't you getting your club/college stuff mixed up. Cal is serving the student sport track. Along the way they are generating players and coaches for the national team (8 this past RWC), high school coaches, fans and sponsors. If the comment is on which team, club or college, is contributing more or most to the "national goal" I think Cal will grade out well. Certainly grade out as well as the top clubs.


It looks like college rugby in general is really doing well. A few teams need to pick up the slack, but in general college rugby in the US is one of the bright spots. High school is also trucking along. Really trucking in the Catholic high schools.

Sevens, I think your comments about clubs getting their rear-ends going is about right. Clubs look to be the weak link.

@ Go Bears

Well Said. It is always nice to see someone that articulates a great response without being rude about it. I don't know much about the Cal program, except that they are really, really good. I think what Sevens would like to say, is that most people would encourage Cal to play UVic more often, regardless of the circumstances of past matches.

I know that the travel is difficult, but as a fan I would enjoy the opportunity for Cal and BYU to play each other more often and outside of the national championship. I'd also like to throw in there more matches with Arkansas State, Life and Utah as well, possibly in the Fall or as friendlies prior to the CPD season or after its conclusion. I can't sit here and tell you when is best or if it will even happen, but I'd certainly enjoy it. Maybe a pipe dream.

@ benito,

I think the goal of the CPD was for the best teams to play. The Bears needed to play St Mary's, Life, Utah and BYU to win the championship. I guess it is working to some degree. The only reason Cal didn't play Arkansas State is because BYU beat them.

I am not sure the goal should be to play these same schools more often. This isn't how college sorts generally work.

I think we need to get more teams to this level. In some ways Army and Navy could be included, but still more teams are needed. Playing a schedule of good teams once a year creates for an exciting season. Win and you advance or better your chances to advance. Playing a team a second time would be OK, but there would be a worry about a lost of interest with the same teams always competing multiple times each season against one another.

Isn't the next step for college rugby to have more schools stepping up. Cal needs Stanford to return to their former self. These were very competitive matches for 100 years. It has only been recently, last 20 years that Cal has pulled away. Even then they haven't always won the game. Stanford and Cal need each other in rugby.

UCLA is improving. Both USC and UCLA used to be really good. Most people don't know but USC was a national power in the 50's and 60's. This is a long way from being a D2 non-contender.

The Big-10 schools underachieve don't they? These are really large enrollment schools. Most of these teams have strong rugby traditions which date back to the 1960's. Great brands, lots of fans, I do not understand why they aren't better clubs. It is great to have ND back playing college rugby. There is a famous Cal-ND match played in Memorial football stadium in front of about 15,000 fans, somewhere in the late 60's I think.

The southeast has the best college sports teams in the US. Maybe the ACC and SEC approach will work to draw interest to rugby. Either way, college rugby really needs to improve in the southeast. Those teams appear important to growing rugby.

@ Go Bears
We are trying, but at most SEC and ACC schools it's hard for rugby to rise up when are pinned down under the weight of football and basketball. It's happening, but at a very slow pace.

A group called the rugby academy just announced a Luke Gross led clinic for all players in the DC area. This isn't preparing anyone for the Eagles but it is open to all clubs and will benefit many high schools and colleges in their region. Only a few hours of instruction but it is a start. Regions need to have hundreds of hours of top level instruction every year to improve the quality of their player and coach pool. I'd guess there were about 20 three day camps last year nationwide offering about 500 total hours of top level instruction. Only Serevi was focused on elite level training. If we increased this tenfold and kept it up year after year, we could see real improvement in rugby quality. Ideally USAR could provide guidance but we can't hold our breath. Clubs didn't wait for USAR to establish the many successful rugby tournaments across the country and we should not wait for USAR to help with clinics and camps.

@ go bears

I agree about not playing the same teams over and over. That's why I didn't suggest the matches to be count in the division. I think I was talking as a fan in that instance. And I would enjoy seeing them play a few more tough matches. It's a fine line for repeat games. With football in the SEC you could end up with teams that played in the regular season, meeting again in the championship and it still has some luster though. But that's usually because the winner goes to the National Championship game.

Anyways, I know the SEC is trying and the quality of Tennessee and LSU rugby is still good, though not as good as Life and Arkansas State. There's hope for them. I think playing their rivals will help a little bit.

What is the state of HS rugby in SEC and ACC country? I believe (hopefully I'm wrong) that Alabama has not one youth rugby program. What about some of the other states?

You're wrong about Alabama. The states of Tennessee, North Carolina, and Florida all have very good high school rugby. Georgia, South Carolina are also rapidly improving in that area. The DC area has good high school rugby and there are pockets in Louisiana as well. I don't consider the northeast to be ACC country, but I guess that is changing so you look at Massachusetts and NY and Connecticut and there are good high school programs there. Mississippi and Arkansas are two states I have no idea about. If the schools in the ACRL and SCRC can capitalize on their existing conference brands, large school sizes and in many cases in-state tuition, you will see the teams at these schools improve. That is the model that will work best for them. None of those schools can replicate what is happening at Davenport or Lindenwood or Arkansas St. or Life because these schools don't need students, they already get more applicants than they can handle. So the best approach for them is to piggyback on their brands and slowly gain access to better facilities, better athletes, etc. We'll see if it works...

Here is the Rugby Alabama website.

http://www.rugbyalabama.com/index.asp

This seems to be an interesting question with a confusing answer in some cases.

The pacific northwest has a solid high school base. There has been HS rugby in the PNW for 25 years, but the PNW colleges are and have been among the poorest in the US. UW, Oregon, OSU all teams nowhere near the top 40-50.

Texas has solid HS rugby but yet the Texas colleges, other than A&M, are all average or worse.

Colorado had some of the first HS teams, but the only truly successful college team has been Air Force who's recruits are nationally selected and unconnected to the local HS market.

Ohio had HS rugby before most (WORMS!) but it hasn't much fueled Ohio college rugby to championships.

Mid Atlantic has good HS rugby and no college championships.

On the other hand, although HS rugby in southern california has recently improved greatly, the college teams have always been higher ranked than the number of HS teams and players the region generated.

There must be a connection between the number and quality of HS teams and the success of local college rugby, but it is harder to find than one would think.

Utah and northern California jump out as places where this appears to be working. Utah HS fuels two of the top teams. Northern Cal several teams to include Cal and St Mary's, along with a few other solid colleges.

The plan has to be to grow the number of HS teams, but certainly there is more to the question than meets the eye.

My guess is the leadership of the college team is as important as the HS playing base. The top teams have the better leadership. Other teams without such leadership are more likely to trend downward even though they have a HS player pipeline. If a team has neither effective leadership or a local recruiting base, there isn't much chance.

@ ACC/SEC

The plan makes total sense. Improve your rugby and its visibility by playing known conference rivals. The administration will better like this plan as well as the student body. I bet the players will also enjoy this competition better than having to explain to their friends and family why ASU is so good or who Life University is.

It is funny that it takes us 30-40 years to stumble upon the right plan to develop our campus rugby. This makes so much sense, it begs the question what took us so long.

if i recall my last conversation with the ark. st. coach, there is NO youth rugby in Arkansas

The Rugby Alabama website looks like it's one guy really trying to build youth rugby there, but doesn't indicate that any yet exists. Godspeed to Brad Kilpatrick.

Interesting comment from HS-College connection, that there is not necessarily a strong correlation between the quality of the youth and collegiate rugby scene in particular areas. There's a lot to think about there.

I noticed that also. Some people say we/they have "very good HS rugby". I would save that "very" for when it is very. Like when the best football players are also playing rugby. Where the football, basketball coach considers the rugby coach a fellow coach. When HS rugby uses the same facilities as the other school sports. When a student can get a HS varsity letter for playing on the school rugby team. Somehow I doubt the very good which was used.

Looks like most college conferencs are setting up Sevens Tournaments to feed CRC. Hopefully they will run clinics for HS players in conjunction with the tourneys. This was done at this year's CRC. Great for HS development and college recruiting. College conferences look to be the logical organizations to run clinics and camps to benefit multiple clubs across their regions. First step is HS but elite U-23 camps are needed soon.

"Mid Atlantic has good HS rugby and no college championships"

There a few D-II championships for the MARFU in the last 10 years. I am not sure of the correlation between the high school rugby and the success had by Radford and Salisbury in their respective national championship wins. I know Radford has had a lot of kids from West End Rugby in the past.

Judging geographic areas of high school rugby by D1 College Championships is a dumb exercise since one college team has won something like 27 of the last 29 titles.

A better way to do it might be to look at state schools that have made the collegiate national championships in recent years. California shows well with Cal, UCLA, SDSU, Cal Poly, UCSB, and Humbolt St all making appearances. Utah is good with BYU (private, but in a different category than most private schools), Utah, Utah Valley St. North Carolina actually has done well in D2 with NCSU, ECU, and App St in recent years. Tennessee is unique in that all the decent high school players go to UT, and that is how they have built such a consistently successful program. Nobody there is a crossover athlete who just discovered rugby in college. Wisconsin is represented well with UW-Madison and UW-Whitewater.

@Sevens

There is no way anything for HS rugby is going to get done around the college conference 7s tourneys that are part of the USA Rugby Men's Collegiate 7s Championships happening this fall. USA Rugby is not doing anything to set these tourneys up and it is costing the college programs a pretty penny to compete. They are now throwing teams from different conferences into other conferences because teams are dropping out after previously committing to the tourney. No info or funds coming out of USA Rugby. It is a mess and Todd Bell is asleep at the wheel.

Todd Bell is the wrong man for the job.

He lacks the ability to organize and commercially drive the college game forward. Some say he hasn't been given the authority to make decisions. Maybe so, but he also hasn't demonstrated the ability to lead the college game, so possibly this has to do with Boulder's micro management.

Can anyone in their wildest, imagine a scenario where Todd is USAR's representative to campuses and their sport administrations? No.

We need to not only imagine there is a USAR staff member who could effectively add value in this way, college coaches should be fighting with each other for this person's time.

College rugby continues to get shorted on services for the dollars the college game pays in dues. USAR needs to do better for college rugby.

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