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02 December 2011


my take...and many of from my area who are not willing or able to post....

complete nonsense that USA rugby sees the need to spend "TIME AND MONEY" both - on anything related to the world cup. we are not ready. period. wake up. take what ever grant money we get from the IRB and spend it on tests and RWC. period.

that solves alot of issues in this article...makes decisions for us. who, what when, salaries, etc.

remove daily operations of rugby from USARFU - this model is not working - is not a sustainable model- USA is too large for a couple of newbies in colorado to oversee-...

let the game grow organically and get out of way...high school rugby has really grown...allow it to flourish with USARFU daily involvement...

the top games in the USA - baseball, football, basketball are not governed by the pro leagues...they have many many organizations that are involved...AAU, youth orgs, state public schools, ncaa, naia, etc...

USARUGBY should be redefined - now is a great time to do so.

allow it to flourish "WITHOUT" USARFU daily involvement...

Eagles go 0-3 on first day in Dubai. Losing to even Portugal. We suck!

Incredible work by Kurt. With this post, he clearly separates himself from anyone else in American rugby. In a million years you would NEVER read extensively research work like this on Goff.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are in big trouble.

Can we print out and FedEx to the IRB?

I just wish the other 98% of usar members read this site, we really could move our rugby forward in America.

Leadership right? Kurt talks about initiatives that have gone unanswered, were these actual plans as part of the unions strategies, or not so well thought out "obvious" needs that had no real chance?

Who knows if Nigel is staying, you would think you top employee if he has been re-uped would warrant an announcement? Rumors persist to the RFU CEO position that he tweeted about this summer.

Also, 4 or 5 board members are up for election I think this summer, real change can only happen at this level as Kurt points out.

All one has to do is read the KR interview to see what a worthless blowhard this guy has been.

For what it's worth (and I apologize for this tangent, as it was hardly the point of an excellent column) both we and Canada were in the most appropriate pool. Canada would never have beaten Italy - at least they had a real shot of finishing #3 in Pool A. And we likely would have lost to Japan and Tonga had we been in Pool A.

I personally was impressed with the Canada performance against Tonga and France, and considering that we lost to Japan's second side a tie against the Japanese first side is nothing to look down at. I think the Canadians would have done better against Italy than the Eagles, who were never in the match after the Italians scored their second try at the 30 minute mark.

WFIL, you make a good point based upon then current form or status quo. I think you have to look at it under the notion that had we prepared differently, applied knowledge and resource in different directions we would have had an equal chance as Canada to reach the 3rd rung and automatice qualification.
The other point is actually acknowledging what you are saying, but doing so under the influence that we went from closing the gap on Canada and infrequently losing to Japan to routinly losing to both.
Finally, the last point would be that the CIPP roles now play a signifigant role in the funding of a team going backwards in the win loss column.

Kurt, Great article, researched and illustrated like a true pro. How do we as the community look at the downward trajectory, finances and the like and not make changes?

Kurt points out the positives and the Olympic inclusion will begin to lift the value of our team, but is this a lifeline that is worthy to have the current leadership continue after 5 years of such poor showings?

Real and true accountability is what is missing, you cannot deny the facts Kurt structurly lays out so next steps anyone?

Did you see where I wrote, "I apologize for this tangent, as it was hardly the point of an excellent column"?

If Melville gets the RFU post he has applied for, he will leave this bag of sh*t on our doorstep and haul-ass. If not we are stuck with him.

As bad as NM has been he has performed better than the USAR Board. This Board has been a wreck. Roberts and Latham deserve to be removed from office.

Congress could have voted this Board out of office, but were gutless in the extreme.

The Clubs were gutless in re-electing the Congress.

It is a fixed game.

The clubs elect local leadership. Then this much smaller group, as few as a dozen individuals, elects Congress.

Most of the people in Congress where elected with a dozen or fewer friends electing them.

The average CIPP member has nothing to say about anything and the clubs themselves almost nothing.

This lawsuit from Kooga cannot be defended. USAR will lose for sure and there is a better than not chance it will be tripled. Maybe the IRB will loan us a few million to clean up the professional management of USAR. Man this is ugly.

The average CIPP payer is gutless. The CIPP members elect the local reps who elect Congress.

The average CIPP player is not gutless - he just doesn't care and is not paying attention. Most clubs manage to find one guy who cares enough to go to the union meetings to cast a vote for the unopposed candidates running for the local rep positions.

If every CIPPed player (or their parents) read this blog post, it might spur some reaction. But I guarantee you that 99% of it would be news to 99% of the American rugby public.

I think Kurt is doing a great job, and I appreciate those of us who post here regularly (even those I disagree with) who obviously give a damn about what is going on, but most of the American rugby community seems to have about as much interest in the goings on in Boulder as we do about municipal elections in Minsk.

It's not all bad. Pat Guthrie got removed.

Pat Guthrie is a rugby parasite only looking to line his pockets producing matches for TV or pimping his rugby for dummies book.

I've got no problem with someone trying to make a buck or even a living off of the game. I think he genuinely wants to see rugby thrive, and not only for his own gain. That doesn't mean that I think he belongs in Congress though.

Who is Pat Guthrie? Who cares?

This is a real account of our governing body and it's decisions. The Department of Labor inquiry is real and could be a considerable issue. The Kooga lawsuit is something USARFU will lose and it will cost a lot of money.

These are not personality contests, these are real big problems that will be resolved one way or the other. How much money it will cost us CIPP paying people is the question.

Is anyone accountable for these actions/decisions? Will this all be covered up and not reviewed and discussed in the public domain the way everything used to be in our union?

It does not make sense to pay any additional CIPP into USAR where it will be lost in the Kooga lawsuit. CIPP dues must be held outside of USAR, beyond the reach of the lawsuit. Hearing that USAR has set up new legal entities for each of the new GU's. One would assume the College Conferences and SBRO's also have their own legal entities. CIPP dues must be held by the regional legal entities and funds should only be upstreamed to USAR at the direction of the regional entities for specific services provided by USAR. For any change to happen the clubs need to get organized.

Score Card...

1- The Eagle players haven't been paid a RWC win bonus promised to them. They have been waiting for this payment since the day after the USA vs Russia match months ago. Meanwhile EOS had no problem accepting his payment in full with never once suggesting his players should be taken care of first. Same with Nigel Melville, he has been cashing his checks on time without disruption. The wealthy USAR Board members apparently have no problem with the Eagles players getting stiffed. Vice Chair Bob Latham just keeps showing up to collect any award or limelight available. He is known in some quarters as the "Monkey Rat". Monkey because he is Kevin Roberts little monkey on a string and rat because he is untrustworthy and two faced. Jen Cope the USAR CFO has also been stashing away the paychecks, but maybe this can be understood as she is getting ready to take a fall.

2- The USAR CFO has been approving "cash" fee payments, which total many hundreds of thousands of dollars to Eagles players over the last 5 years. This is highly illegal. The Department of Labor has a very critical investigation of USAR underway. There is no way for USAR to wiggle off this hook, what they have been doing is not acceptable. There are no allowable cash for service agreements permitted. This practice has been saving USAR payroll taxes and the recipients income taxes. Nigel Melville would like to make this all Jen's problem, but he is about to find out the legal responsibilities of being a CEO. The old Enron "I didn't know" won't work for Nige. Full back taxes for the organization and the players is only the beginning of this mess. Look for penalties to be accessed against USAR and possibly the temporary loss of 501 status. This is very serious and not beyond time in...

3- Guess what you are not allowed to do? You can't sell an exclusive agreement to someone, extracting a high price and then turn around and sell this same exclusive to another party. This is illegal. USAR has been found guilty of doing just this. The question is will the judge triple the claim. This is not unusual.

There was a time when people just bitched about USAR's poorly executed Eagle centric ways. About the teams falling world ranking. That CIPP dues from kids were funding high priced poorly performing employees.

We bitched about the lack of sponsorships from the big hat no cattle Roberts. We complained about dues raising and membership services falling. The out of touch Board. The Congress who against all rational thought continues to support and elect this failed Board and Boulder staff.

But now, we really see what we should have been worry about. A CEO who had never been a CEO before. A CFO who had never been a CFO before. Both dealing with several millions of dollars and with contracts which total more.

The IRB and USOC we be watching this really really closely. The damage could be greater than we could have ever imagined. There must be a few Congress members about now, who wish they would have raised their hand and asked a question or two. This is Doug Arnot to the next level.

Is this why Melville is angling for the RFU job? Get the hell out of dodge while there is still time to do so. The Eagles didn't stink at the RWC. USAR got an award for rookie rugby. This is their high water mark in the eyes of those who don't know better, unlike all of us.

Now is the time for them to bow out claiming victory. If Roberts and Melville are around for another couple of months this is going to come undone on them. Multi-million dollars lawsuit judgment, million dollar DOL settlement. USOC sanctions?

Todd Clever has told others he is going to pay the Eagles win bonus out of his pocket. But aren't these non-taxed cash payments one of the things that got USAR into this mess in the first place? When USAR pays Todd back will the whole reimbursement not be taxable to Clever?

It is really a shame the players are getting screwed, while the over priced management keeps getting paid.

as others have commented here, i cant help but think how well kurt/gainline have covered the management of usa rugby in comparison to rugby magazine. there was a time under ed that rugby mag asked all the hard questions and got to the truth more times than not. now the publication is nothing more than the marketing arm of a tournament. alex goff seems like a nice guy. pat clifton is not a credible sports journalist. he is more the fat loudmouth with more opinions than facts. kurt, thank you for what you do.

DOL issues now, this is the first i have read this. also, what is with the win bonus, i heard Peter S. kicked in a healthy amount for this?

The question I have about the Kooga lawsuit is why it hasn't been settled yet. The legal fees for defending this have got to be mounting, and clearly the strategy is to simply drag it out as long as possible. USAR's case does not appear to be that strong, so they would be better off settling it now and taking the PR hit. The interesing thing is that Congress has been told that the lawsuit is really no big deal.

Here's the deal about the DOL audit, per USAR (again, many Congress members are completely unaware of this). The DOL told the USOC that they wanted to audit one of the NGBs. As the new kid on the block, the USOC served up the USOC on a platter with the understanding that USAR would fall on the sword and the USOC would back it. The issues that the DOL is concerned about (independent contractor status and per diem payments to athletes) are ones that exist in all the Olympic sports. The problem is that once the DOL starts digging into USAR's finances, who knows what they will find. You and I certainly don't since USAR is completely opaque in their financial reporting.

I was told that Seccia promised and paid a win bonus for the Russia game. Perhaps the info I received was incorrect?

It is USAR who is running hard with the everybody gives cash per diem payments. This is untrue. Even if under the "independent contractor" status, the organization issuing payment has to record these payment through a 1099. USAR has not been doing this.

Does it really matter which Board member promised the players win bonuses? All the players and staff were aware this bonus was on the table. The Board used the motivation of a win bonus to their advantage. The players were dangled a win bonus if they best Russia, they beat Russia and have thus far been not given the bonus. Even if it is paid today, this is an almost unthinkable they have been treated this way. Melville and O'Sullivan splitting up a half a million per year and they screw the players!

I'm not trying to call any of this into question, but how does everyone know about this 1099 failure? Has it been written elsewhere? Reported by players? It all sounds really awful...but I'd like to see something "real".

It appears that Congress has "cause" to remove the Directors.

From USA Rugby Bylaws:

Section 5.7. Removal of Directors.
The entire Board of Directors or any individual Director with the exception of the Athlete Representative Directors may be removed from office for cause upon the petition of at least twenty-five percent (25%) of the members of the Congress in office and the subsequent vote of at least two-thirds (2/3) of the members of the Congress in office. For purposes of this Section 5.7, “cause” shall mean the failure by the Director to carry out his/her duties or responsibilities as a Director or any action or inaction which, in the discretion of the Congress, materially and adversely affects or may affect the Corporation.
The Athlete Representative Director who was not elected solely by the Qualified Sevens Athletes may be removed from office for cause upon the petition of at least twenty-five percent (25%) of the Athlete Representative Congress Members in office and the subsequent vote of at least two thirds (2/3) of the Athlete Representative Congress Members in office. The Athlete
Representative Director who was elected solely by the Qualified Sevens Athletes may be removed from office for cause upon petition of at least twenty-five percent (25%) of the Athletes Representative Congress Members who are Qualified Sevens Athletes in office and the subsequent vote of at least two-thirds (2/3) of those Qualified Athlete Representative Congress Members in office. For purposes of this Section 5.7, “cause” shall mean the failure by the Athlete Representative Director to carry out his/her duties or responsibilities as an Athlete Representative Director or any action or inaction which, in the discretion of the Congress, materially and adversely affects or may affect the Corporation.

the board is a "country club". . . .
they want to be there for status -
no real experience with being upper management - or working together to solve operational or strategic issues. leadership?

USA Rugby = Village Idiots of World Rugby

Deal with it and go play some rugby at the local park or middle school and have some fun playing the game and then smash down some booze with your team and the rival team.

The Eagles and the union are worthless.

"Deal with it and go play some rugby at the local park or middle school and have some fun playing the game and then smash down some booze with your team and the rival team."

You say that like it's a bad thing.

So this obstacle course called the Tough Mudder has just signed Under Armour as a sponsor. Among the other sponsors is Dos Equis, Degree, Clif Bar, FRS and Bic. This guy, actually a British guy, started this thing 2 years ago and already has great sponsors.

And, even with the exposure from Sevens Rugby and Rugby World Cup, the USARFU can't hardly get the interest of an American apparel company like Under Armour (Wales RFU sponsor) or Nike (England/France sponsor) to sign on with them.

Here's an article on it: http://www.cnbc.com/id/45554832

I was thinking the same thing watching the interview of the TM ceo on CNBC.

Tough Mudder certainly has the Ed Hardy, MMA/UFC, douche factor going for it, which is easy to sell to middle America.

Yes rugby is far too high brow to cater to the tastes of middle America. Rugby in the US has plenty of douche bags many of whom run their clubs poorly and take positions in Congress.

Tough Mudder is a participatory event and rugby is a spectator sport. Not sure why it was brought up.

Seems that every time any comparison is made to another sport, someone is quick to chime in that that sport is somehow not like rugby. Lacrosse, soccer, college football, tough mudder...apparently the only useful illustrations of the problems and possibilities of American rugby are to be found in American rugby.

Incidentally, it seems to me that rugby in this country is very much a participation sport.

There is no audience at a Tough Mudder event. People pay a fee to participate and the participants are who the sponsors are after. Rugby is not that at all. Rugby requires an audience to attend the events (a competition).

Lacrosse and soccer have a lot of the same challenges as rugby, are far more along in their development, and we should use them as guides on how to move forward.

My guess is you will struggle to remember Tough Mudder in 5 to 10 years. There will be some new fad extreme participatory event.

Only time will tell. But Tough Mudder has ambitions to get spectators. Afterall people will watch an even more boring participation event like the Ironman or marathon races.

I don't think it is absurd to think that people will eventually want to watch a Tough Mudder event whether in person or on TV.

And also, Play rugby! is right, rugby is very much a participation sport. I was brought it up because someone else is advancing their product while people like you have nothing but negative things to say in the rugby community.

“It's better to be an optimist who is sometimes wrong than a pessimist who is always right”

I am old enough to remember when the Santa Barbara and Monterrey tournaments were bringing large number of participants and spectators and there was no sponsors or funds. At the same time the AVP turned their beach events in Manhattan and Hermosa Beach into a darling of summer programming on NBC. The rugby community can't get their act together and launch something professional. Has been that way for decades.

Remember Bazza Tea? Hahahahahahahahaha.

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