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29 November 2011


"Foreigners have been slow to grasp that in America, public schools provide elite training for professional and Olympic sports."

You fail to mention that Mark Griffin... Founder of Play Rugby USA and former Eagle... is himself, British. His support staff (Christian Mayo, Dallen Stanford, etc) are largely foreign as well. Looks like they were able to grasp the public school sports model.

Kurt, this notion you babble on and on about that foreigners can't figure out the American Sports system is absolute BS. It's not rocket science.

Congrats to all at Play Rugby USA!!!

Of course Kurt is a jingoist; not only is he opposed to foreigners in general, he's opposed to foreign-looking Americans. Just look at the lie he keeps shamelessly repeating about our national team featuring the second-most foreigners. To Kurt, American Samoans aren't Americans.

Kurt is right in that there is a disconnect between those who grew and went to school in this country and those who didn't. The way to truly achieve something for the game is to put everything into Play Rugby USA and Rookie Rugby, not just as a sideshow.

Our CEO does not understand - he says he does but ALL our resources (especially Cipp dues) should be going into programs like this. Just wasted 40+ minutes of my life listening to his interview on Ruggamatrix. Alex and Co didn't ask any questions of any relevance and allowed him to talk about residency for the Sevens players, buying a premiership team and hosting the RWC in 2027!


Andy Richards... "coach" at VA Tech...

Do you do anything with your life other than troll the internet and post ridiculous comments?

NO ONE cares what you have to say.

Thats as maybe, but I do care about the game and I'm willing to shout about it and not hide behind my keyboard.

Firstly, I care what Andy has to say. I think he says it well and I enjoy hearing his thoughts.

As for the troll "Jingoist" taking shots at Kurt, f**k off.

As for the two programs in question I offer this. Play Rugby is an after school urban program which in a decade has yet to produce a key US player. If we think this program is a performance game changer, we will be wrong. This program is about helping kids with no where to go after 3pm school day ends. If it helps keep at risk kids stay out of trouble, it has achieved its highest usage.

Rookie Rugby has slightly more potential longer term. But RR has also got many miles to go to connect a one off, rugby-like experience, to true rugby participation. As of now it is about showing large numbers of kids in rugby-like participation. These kids and more importantly their families have no connection to rugby or rugby teams, a small point no mentioned in the award presentation.

Getting into schools is key for proliferation of the sport, but I'm not convinced it is the best way for elite training of young athletes.

However, I think that proliferation right now is vastly more important than elite development.

But for many sports, it seems that it is the club system that develops the truly elite kids. Football, and possibly track (I don't know), are the only sports I can think of off the top of my head that are traditionally in schools and do not also include an elite club component.

The elite club aspect you are referring to is clearly supplemental. The club system offers a chance for players to play more often and against better competition. The varsity system is the primary vehicle.

RR does little to get rugby into the schools. RR isn't about rugby being a school sport, it is about rugby being a co-ed "activity". It positions rugby as kick ball, not as a true sport.

The foreigners might not understand this difference, but anyone growing up in this country and playing school sports will appreciate the difference. Still RR isn't a bad thing, I don't think. It just isn't the be all this failed administration is making it out to be.

I agree I could have done a better job identifying 'Commonwealth types living in their native countries who are not familiar with and have not thought critically about the capacity of the American school system'. Mark Griffin et al obviously fall outside this frame. They are more like successors to such men as Dennis Storer, whose genius lay in adapting domestic strengths to American identity / modality (ie, how one goes about business) in world rugby.

Rookie Rugby = Kick Ball...and we all know how many kick ball players go on to compete life long in kick ball. They play on college kick ball teams. Club kick ball teams. Professional city based kick ball teams. Some get overseas kick ball contracts. Other play only elite level super kick ball dreaming on making the USA world cup kick ball team.

College rugby would be much better off if there were more guys like Andy Richards involved in the game.

The club system has proven to be the preferred way to develop young athletes in a sport like soccer due to better coaching resources and varsity practice limitations. However, ask an elite 16 year old soccer player what their primary goal is (other than a soccer scholarship, of course) and they will tell you that it is a state championship for their high school team. A small percentage will bypass their high school varsity team for club participation but that’s only because they are focused on playing for a college varsity team. However, all that’s apples to oranges anyway because the average 16 year old soccer player can easily play 50 to 60 games a year so there's room for both club and varsity.

Speaking of Confederate Generals, who is going to be the Jefferson Davis who leads the official college rugby secession from USAR? Obviously JMac wasn't the guy for the job. But at least he got the ball rolling. Now we need someone to pick that ball up and run with it (get the reference? clever, huh?). Wouldn't it be ironic if it were Englishman Andy Richards who broke us free from Commonwealth rule?

He didn't get the ball rolling he put the effort back 3 years.

Once he published the college USCRA org chart showing two dozen paid employees with himself as executive director at the top of a large over staffed organization, USAR looked almost lean and efficient by comparison.

I'd prefer a George Washington to a Jefferson Davis. The South lost and have never recovered. They remain a backwater, ignorant anchor weighing down the ship as this nation tries to go forward. What we need is to tear away from the foreign IRB and make a new world for rugby and show the rest of the world how far rugby can go under American leadership.

In addition to creating more rugby players, PlayRugby has created a new rugby economy where people can actually get paid for rugby development. If elite rugby is going to improve, people will need to be paid. PlayRugby has done a great Jon raising money through grants, player dues, sponsors and donations. While they coordinate with USA Rugby, they did not wait for USA Rugby handouts to take initiative and move forward. Elite rugby development in the US should adopt many elements of the Play Rugby business model.

You are dead wrong. PlayRugby hasn't created more rugby players. In fact it has had almost no impact on the US rugby membership. Less than a quarter of 1%. Have the club rugby teams in NY all of a sudden had PR kids show up on their doorstep and asked to join? No. Have colleges had new recruits from PR? No.

PlayRugby viewed as a business model makes some sense. It has worked well for the foreign boys who own and work at PR. Where the concept loses all credibility is when viewed as a solution to the growth of US rugby. PR is a urban after school, stay out of trouble alternative to those kids which know they can't play basketball.

In the case of PR, rugby serves as a stay out of trouble tool for at risk youth. This is a attractive cause which has earned grant funds. Therefore, the business model funds jobs for English guys who fly in on short stays and the PR owners. If this is the business model US rugby should be following it will not have much to do with developing rugby players or teams and have everything to do with using rugby personally to make money.

Rugby for the elderly? Rugby as a corporate training lesson? Rugby in the prisons! Green rugby, anyone?

Just bring in some British 007 speaking dudes and claim it will solve the problem. There is your business model.

I just listened to the RugbyMag interview with NM. AndyR was right, what a waste of time. Melville wasn't asked one question the dues payers of USAR want to know.

Dumb questions leading nowhere. How many matches will the Eagles play next year? When will the coach be selected? What does the USOC care most about? Wait I think NM is going to say..."how good the rugby media is" No, they care about medals. Do you think?

Rugby union is being run into the ground. Congress is a sham. The Board out of touch. Dues are being raised. The championships are a bust. An outside rugby group is taking over the management of the game. HS has pulled away. College is next.

While the three idiots asking questions of the CEO what to know how a test match is arranged.


How many youth soccer players go on to be even varsity starters? Maybe 10% i'd guess less. Listen carefully. Soccer strategy was to create a positive experience that players, parents and investors could get behind.

I wouldn't give 10.00 to the average rugby league, club or team. I would give more to any soccer league that asked.

Grassroots is NOT about finding the next eagle. Its about planting seeds for success.

Larry Hunt did not play the the world cup, Mark Cuban never dribbled a ball in the NBA, George Steinbrenner never played in the Majors. They were introduced to a sport they grew to love through trusted, credible vehicles.

The all time Cal 15 does not match the top 15 donors to the team. Yet those 15 donors contribute something more important than any single athlete. Leverage, sustainability and coaching field and equipment resources.

And good - if those kids in PR never see how the average rugby club is run that is GOOD news. I hope those kids go on to college and get great jobs and never have a true understanding of how most rugby is run in the USA.

Also why shouldn't they get paid? Good on them for doing something about it. We've seen the results of volunteer only administration in rugby. We've seen it slowly slog along for 50 years. Pay = accountability. Accountability = results.

There is no magic button that USAR or anyone else will discover that will suddenly create a million playing kids and 100 million injection of funds. So yes - ALL of these programs are game changers. Every single kid who thinks enough of rugby to give back. We never know who the next Steinbrenner is!!!!!!

On a side note... Every sport that a player has an option to turn pro after high school has a development league outside of the varsity system. Every sport that doesn't has mandatory college time to prepare them. Varsity is a trusted vehicle... Not some magic pill for performance. I would argue the strongest varsity infrastructure sports like basketball, baseball and track. Other countries are CLOSER not further away in performance. If anything the results show that to compete internationally the academy, club culture works better to prepare international compeition.

Congrats Katie Wurst and Mark Griffin. You deserve sustainability for your efforts.

PlayRugby is not in the business of elite player development. PlayRugby is at the front end of the player pipeline and is lowering the age at which players are introduced to the game. There is clearly a need for vehicle to develop elite players whether these are camps, rep sides, and/or academies. An elite program for 16-25 year olds managed to PlayRugby standards would be a huge step forward for rugby in the US.

If you watch any of the videos posted by PR and listen to those kids talk about rugby, it is obvious plenty of them will pursue rugby beyond PR. When the haters see Lacrosse doing the same thing, they say lax is once again beating rugby in development, this time in the inner cities.

The subtle negative attitude towards these inner city kids is a little troubling by the way.

Looks like the job posting for AA Head Coach offers only per diem and expenses which make it a volunteer position. Other countries dedicate professionals to develop their elite players. The US can not compete with volunteer coaches at the elite level. AA Head Coach must have a professional salary and be responsible for elite player development including management of elite camps and rep sides.

Okay you lot. Balls to the wall time. Honestly, how many of you actually get out there and invest time and sometimes be it money in the effort to create awareness of the game? How many of you? How many of you have ever run a national sporting body?

You criticize a group who are at least trying to do so while you moan on and on and on and all the negatives on an online forum. If you all know how to do it better, better understand the American mentality or are just sooo much smarter them those damn foreigner's (xenophobia is rampant here) then get out there a do it. Stop whinging behind a keyboard and prove them all wrong. But then you lot won't as you would need to leave your couches or desk chairs and the warm fuzzy feelings you get when you tear down any effort of those at least giving it a shot in your quest to feel superior.

I don't know what your politics are, but is it safe to say that you've never had anything bad to say about Bush or Obama? Because, after all, you've never run a government or held high political office, so clearly you don't have any standing to criticize.

I suppose, never having sold a record in my life, that I also should have nothing but praise for the musical talents of the Rebecca Black.

So, you are saying what? That you think you can make a greater impact flinging mud at people who are trying to make a difference and build awareness of Rugby. Criticism is fine and can be constructive, however, in this instance, its childish and unwarranted. Emanating from a sense entitled superiority toward individuals on the basis that by an large they a ex-patriot Britons and not American. If this were a American spawned movement I would suggest you would be full of nothing but praise for them.

The funny thing is that many of the "trolls" on this board actually spend a huge part of their time growing the sport of rugby. I frankly can't imagine that anyone who didn't care and wasn't involved would waste any time at all on these comments.

As for JMac setting the movement back 3 years, I disagree. His creation of the USCRA, which was doomed to failure simply because of his involvement, was the leverage certain other people needed to create a reorganization of college rugby from the inside that actually is moving college rugby into a position to break away from USAR. So JMac, regardless of what his own ulterior job-creating motives were, does deserve some credit, however back-handed it may be.

Totally agree about JMac. Without the USCRA, the position of collegiate director, the conference system and it break from LAU/TUs wouldn't have happened when it did. His was a February, rather than an October revolution!

If colleges are going to be the focal point for elite player (and coach) development, each college conference should look to establish an elite academy in partnership with regional HS, college, and senior clubs. Perhaps professional organizations with proven track records like USA Sevens and Play Rugby could take some role. USA Rugby could provide access to national team players and coaches. Each conference would run camps for 16-25 year olds and help colleges recruit players and place graduates with senior clubs. Each academy could have its own u18 and college rep sides to compete against other academies. Funding can come from local cipp dues, participant fees, donations, and sponsors. Academy staff must be paid.

The one thing the USCRA achieved, one thing and one thing only, was pressuring USAR into hiring the position of college director. Now lets be honest. This is the single poorest hire in the history of USAR. Roughly $100,000 per year for a guy to work out of his spare bedroom in Texas. Zero sponsorship ability, zero event knowledge, no TV history, a complete absence of rugby, coaching, sport management experience. Previous experience was as a D3 media coordinator, then as a minor staff role in a bowl game.

This hire and failure is not the responsibility of the USCRA, it belongs to the USAR CEO. But we should stop short of claiming any success for this hire while it cost $100,000 and brings in nothing.

Wrong. The threat of USCRA caused the Board and CEO to allow a complete reorganization of the college game (at least on the men's side) by a committee (which incidentally included at least one USCRA Board member), which has positioned college rugby very nicely to break free from USAR. This has nothing to do with Todd Bell.

I cannot believe that some people on this forum are slating the PRUSA programme! Unbelievable. For starters it has not been 10 years since it has begun. Secondly, it is primarily a youth development tool rather than an elite player pathway. To say it is has not produced any Eagles is ridiculous, these children are 13 years old at current. However, it has put one fantastic player into Xavier HS of whom will go on to do great things in the game. Moreover, it has just sent one girl and boy on scholarship to NZ. This is an amazing achievement. The children in the programme are now playing 7s and will hopefully go on to keep playing. It is about changing children's lives and increasing participation of the support, which lets face the US needs. The main coaches and organisers, Griff, Mayo and Dom Wareing are great guys and care so much about everyone they work with, moreover US rugby. Certainly more than a few insolent people who slate this programme. These guys are doing something for US rugby everyday, I wish the same ethos could translate into some critics who write on here.

To point out the obvious. A 13 year old, ten years ago when PR started is now 23...still no Eagles. Ten years on, there will still not be elite players developed in after school urban programs.

PR is about a few guys making some money and keeping a few more kids safe from too much time on their hands. It is a good thing, but unconnected to rugby.

This Guy /\ Is a Tool

So a program that doesn't produce Eagles is worthless? Is that the one standard by which we judge all rugby related activity? By how many Eagles it produces?

That is asinine.

No. However, if in a decade of self-acclaimed work, there has never been one PR participate go on to such standards it does say something.

It is a laugh, when people can't just see a program for what it is. This isn't a rugby program it is a after school activity. As such, it does not produce rugby players, much less Eagles.

Once again, the program might keep some at risk kids out of trouble, this is a good thing. This said, PR has no effect of the fortunes or future of US rugby. The owners and employees have a business called PlayRugby. They are using a co-ed rugby activity played on blacktop to help kids and make money. PR has as much impact on US rugby as wheelchair rugby has, which is to say, no impact.

PlayRugby and similar youth rugby programs are building the required player base from which elite athletes can be selected. One in 17 high school American football players goes on to play in college(6%). One in 50 go from college to play on one of the 32 teams in the NFL (2%). A select national American football team would be 1/32nd of the NFL players (3%). Less than .004% of high school football players would make a national football team. So if Rugby wants the same level of elite selection for the Eagles, we need 1,000,000 high school seniors to create a pool of just 40 elite rugby players. There is a huge skill gap between PlayRugby and the Eagles and more development program are needed in between, but PlayRugby and similar programs are needed to feed the player pipeline. No US national rugby team coach is going to be successful until the player pipeline improves.

Thanks Sevens.

Now pay attention. No, few, very few...PR participants go on to play rugby. They don't join teams, pay dues or even watch the RWC on TV.

PR does not build a base. PR is nor part of any "pipeline".

You are a romantic. It is a nice thought, I agree, but PR has no impact of US rugby.

It very well might be a nice program for keeping kids busy, but it might as well be another sport for our rugby purpose.

To reiterate what Ross said, Play Rugby was not started 10 years ago. It began in 2006 with elementary school kids. Since then, it has grown into including middle school flag in LA and NYC and high school sevens for both boys and girls in NYC. The high school program is entering its third year and included about 200 players last year spread between JV and varsity teams. We (yes, I work for Play Rugby) are a charity that focuses on youth development, using flag and tackle rugby as the vehicle to do so. In addition to the high school league, we also run a number of tournaments, scrimmages, and leagues for our elementary and middle school participants. This culminates in the NYC Rugby Cup, a day-long tournament that last year included 64 teams and over 750 kids. Many of those kids have been playing flag rugby for multiple years now, and for our elementary school participants, they are getting these experiences before they even reach the age of 11. We have also begun running U13 tackle clubs as well that will grow into U15 and beyond as the players get older. This coming spring, we are projected to be coaching about 2,000 kids per week ranging in age from 9-18 in New York and LA combined.

Our participants have learned how to pass, support each other, attack space, and defend as a group. While its true that not all will continue to play rugby, we make every effort to give them the opportunity to do so if they want. To say that the fact that no high performance candidates have come out of our program is a mark against us is disingenuous at best. Our oldest participants across our five year history are now 18-21, and those players have only played sevens for a maximum of two Springs at this point.

In addition to this, we are currently undertaking an evaluation project that in its early stages has already shown evidence that our program helps these children increase school attendance, raise their grades, make friends, and learn the importance of fitness. It also reinforces key life skills (and rugby values) like communication, respect, teamwork, sportsmanship, and leadership. Helping the kids and growing the game are not mutually exclusive

Well stated Bryan. Don't worry too much. Someone obviously has an axe to grind for someone in Play Rugby and is doing it here. Keep up the amazing work.

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