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30 May 2013


Given the massive amount of money spent every year in the U.S. on college athletics, how can college rugby gain a stronger foothold on some of those marketing and sponsorship dollars?

Parents of school aged students push their kids into sports that offer the best chance for a college scholarship; what should the plan be for college rugby to start better competing for those tier one athletes?

Should clubs and alumni be focusing their resources on college scholarships endowments? How can we approach this problem with corporate partnerships? Would going to a fortune 500 company for dollars that would go towards scholarships open up wallets a little more?

In return if we start getting more of the tier 1 athletes to play rugby, wont more sponsorship opportunities open up?

More Scholarships, more high school kids playing, and playing at a higher commitment level, more kids playing in high school and below, Im guessing more colleges start turning the sport (whether its 1's or sevens) into varsity sports.

How can we approach our larger universities and present them with the idea of varsity rugby sevens?

How do we compete for athletes against the other spring sports like Lacrosse which seems to be expanding at a rapid rate? What can we offer those kids other than the sport being more fun to play?

Why would a high school athlete leave an emerging sport like lacrosse to pay rugby if there is no end game for our sport... Outside of making the olympic team, what can we offer? A Sloppy men's club season? A dysfunctional college game that is stepping all over itself. We have no professional opportunities here in the U.S., not many scholarships, and a limited amount of room at the National team level... what is their pathway?

Mostly blowouts in the first day of the CRC. Nice little invitational, but hardly a national championship.

Do the countries mentioned have the same ridicules eligibility rules as USARFU, in regards to clubs fielding multiple sides?

Do the countries mentioned not allow players to develop, by punishing them, if they happen to play in a few upper division matches and then not allow them to play back down in a lower division?

I got the "#workforit" email from USA Rugby today. It said that the US has won 19 gold medals across 4 Olympic games.

What does that even mean?

Interesting points Kurt, find out why none of then can get a professional comp. off the ground.

Kurt is removing my posts, which are far from rude or incriminating. He must be on the rag...again.

Is it the individual universities or the NCAA that determine whether a sport gets "varsity" status? Seems to me the focus should be lobbying the NCAA to recognize rugby as a sanctioned sport and then the schools will follow. What's the last "new" sport to evolve from club to NCAA varsity status? I can't think of one.

@SD Hitman

It's a do whatever it takes world these days. Top national teams like Army and Utah are in the dog house. Other keg league clubs are being gifted national TV exposure because of their brand or locality to the CRC venue. It's all a joke.

Varsity status is granted by the School, the NCAA will run a championship when enough schools become Varsity. I think the challenge that many university ad's look at, esp. the women other than money is "how many high school varsity rugby teams will you be recruiting from" the club culture of our sport is limiting for the time being.

MMA is not in the Olympics and is not recognized by the NCAA. MMA is a newer sport than rugby and has attracted many crossover athletes. How does MMA generate so much more revenue, sponsorship and TV coverage than rugby?

Soccer is in the Olympics, has millions of dollars of scholarships and a domestic pro league. The US national soccer team is ranked around 32 in the world. Will rugby scholarships and a domestic pro league improve the rugby national team ranking?

Anyone watch the Cal vs Life CRC final and notice that the clock didn't stop after the 2nd Life try with under a minute to go? Do they change the rules on this for the final? Every other game had the clock stop as soon as a try was scored if they were under a minute in the game and the clock didnt start under the next kickoff... baffled.

I was there and I was wondering the same thing. Was it because of TV schedule? Certainly Life's conversion kicker was not acting with any urgency. He seemed to think the clock had stopped. At first I thought it was a scoreboard keeper error, which the ref would correct. But that didn't happen. And the cup final was only seven minute halves this year. Wasn't it ten last year?

I'll also add this as an aside. The Small College final was actually a pleasure to watch. It was North Florida and Occidental. The players played good sevens and were well coached. They looked to be physically much smaller than most of the CRC teams, but it wouldn't suprise me if they could have played some of the lesser CRC teams close.

@East: The final was listed as 7 minute halves last week. Not sure about the clock. I wasn't able to watch, but Life had some matches up to their quarterfinal on Youtube Sunday night.

Kurt, would love to read a summary of the presentation on the State and Future of Rugby.

Rant Alert. You wont like it either.

I only read this column to hear people complain about their dues. Get over it, you cant take a date for a meal for what USAR charges. Sure they dont do much besides educate the Refs, coaches, players field national teams, an occasional national championship, chase sponsors, and try to keep up with the rich rugby nations...you dont see any of their efforts most likely because you dont volunteer beyond your own club.

The rugby community between NYC and DC cant muster enough fans to PPL Park for an event thats televised on NBC. I guess everyone was in Glendale supporting the USAR event. or they are just too freakin lazy or cheap to support their own event. Prob the latter. The sponsors you dream of love that by the way. Stay home and drink PBR on the couch.

Why is lacrosse growing so fast? I dont know but last weekend Duke played Syracuse and the joint was packed and 10x the size of PPL. I started a rugby team for kids 5 years ago in our hood. Lax started a travel team at the same time. They have 6 All American coaches coming out of the woodwork to help. I have a Mens club that is more concerned about their Old Boys record than youth development. I'm not looking for help or sympathy. But there are Eagles in town who are kinda too busy to lend a tuesday evening or 2, meanwhile the Lax boyz cant wait to teach 8 yr olds how to shoot on goal or flick a no look pass. Which sport would you pick? Probably not the one where the 300# prop covered in tattoos tells inapprorpiate stories about road trips back in the day. More likely the guy who went to Princeton on a lax scholarship, drives a BMW to practice, and wears $300 loafers. image is everything with kids. (scrum halves bring your hair gel its welcome...)

But lets stop dreaming of someone landing a sponsor that is going to lift every college club out of misery. how much sponsorship would it take? $25M? $50M Army (!) cant maintain club discipline enough to field a team. Utah State got banned. Notre Dame just recently got bak on campus Now lets look at NCAA status. Go ask Maurice Clarrett if he thinks NCAA status would be good for rugby. He got sacked for trading a jersey for a freakin tattoo! You think Rugby clubs have that kind of discipline? No PT work, every dollar the athlete makes is scrutinized, every phone call the coach makes is monitored, etc.

Keep dreaming. But here's what you can do. Find out who's running your state youth organization, they are growing like weeds across the country. You want a sponsor deal? Start there, go find a sponsor, this is low risk the kids have parent chaperones and arent likely to get kicked off campus. Show USAR how easy it is. Then grow the sponsorship to include HS, then college, with a series of 3 year options for the sponsor. yeah that sounds like work doesnt it? Ok start smaller- go Ref a game for 10 yr olds. Line a field, pick up trash, recruit your nieces and nephews, go show some kid your drop kick or spin pass and tell them they are going to play for America in the Olympics and their generation is going to crush the All Blacks and make New Zealand the 52nd state (after Canada). Keep drinking the PBR and wearing your 'wanna ruck' T shirts (parents love that btw, the speedster is going to run track and get a 5th place medal before he tries rugby if the parents have their way.)

I know there are a ton of volunteers who do it all - Ref Coach administer (youth HS and college simultaneously while lining fields with a cell phone in hand).
But if I had $5 for everytime I've heard 'I used to play rugby!' but arent willing to help, I'd be the guy wearing $300 loafers....

PPL was the last straw, sorry. Double or nothing on November 9? Or is there an Old Boys game that conflicts? (lets try setting one up in the parking lot mebbe).


Well Said! I couldnt agree more!

I think the crowd at PPL will be different on Nov 9th for the 15s. Here's why. I've been to a few IRB 7s events (London among them), and outside of the semis and final, the stadium is mostly empty. No one stays at 7s for 10 hours a day, and even if they are there, maybe they are in their seats 50% of the time. Unless their team is playing, they are walking around, eating, in the vendor area, etc. Have you ever watched the matches besides the final in Wellintgton? The stadium is virtually empty even though that event sells out in a day. Ticket sales at the CRC have been okay. Is there room to improve? Yes, certainly. But I have been to every day of the CRCs in Philly since they moved it there, and I think it is improved each year. It's still a work in progress though. As for the Maori match on Nov 9, everyone one who buys a ticket will have their butt on a seat for the 80 mins of the match. It will be like a soccer match. I do think that MARFU and the NRU (or at least Met NY) should prohibit any club matches on November 9. With some care and planning, I think there should be over 15,000 at that match.

Geezer, I agree with your cynical rants. I fight getting my youth program started in a small town because the parents memory of rugby is the drunken college team getting naked. They don't see it as a sport. Heck at CRC, there were NC State fans holding up signs that said emphasized Sex and Beer. Great way to sell the game. But I agree with EAST, the CRC is a great event, well managed and if you counted all the people outside the numbers were not bad (plus they must have handed out tix to the Chester locals, now that was interesting) At least the event is professional much more than the USA Rugby events. An another note, why is a US Eagle Tai Enosa, playing for a D3 Men's team. He was the MVP for the D3 Championship this past weekend
D3 (IMO) is for small towns and social rugby. What does that say for the Eagle Pool ?

Life scored their try with just over a minute to go -- hence the clock not stopping. The same thing happened in other games over the course of the tournament. Not sure if the Life kicker realized this though. He certainly took his time with the kick (it was an important one though), but also didn't hustle back to take the restart.

D3 (IMO) is for small towns and social rugby...and for new clubs. Oceanside is only in their second year of existence. They were D4 last year, D3 this year, and might well be D1 for the 2015 season. Still, it was surprising that he opted to play with them.

Thanks for the clarification Haterz. I think next year that is a rule that needs to be thoroughly explained to team, because to me it looked clear that Life had no idea the clock was not stopping. I tell ya though, if they scored with over a minute to play it was barely over a minute and that few seconds of difference actually turned a minute left on the clock to 13 seconds by the time the restart happened. I think that rule needs some looking in to. Would have been exciting to see Life have another chance at it. Oh well, good event all around, but still that clock stoppage thing just doesn't sit right for me.

At the Forum Nigel made it pretty clear that NCAA status for rugby is unlikely in Men's 15s. Maybe Women's 15's because of title IX. Sevens possible because of Olympics.

Deal with it - I agree that turning 15's into a varsity sport is a damn near impossibility but I think you're right, with the Olympics Sevens could easily be turned into a varsity sport. The only problem is seasonality and creating an actual season for sevens. I dont think this is even on USAR's radar. Did they talk at all about the seasonality issue and/or creating a collegiate sevens season?

Collegiate Rugby Championship recorded a total attendance of 19,275 over the weekend. 6.2 percent increase over 2012.

At the Forum Northampton Saint GM revealed that average Aviva Premiership attendance is around 12,000. And that very few Aviva teams have ever turned a profit.

Rugby is better suited to lower capacity MLS stadiums than NFL and college football stadiums.

Also, fan focus is key. Most rugby clubs do very little to develop their fans base. Fans get sponsors. Fans are more important than the players but no US rugby club operates with this view.

Good insight on the fan issue.

There is a reason why in Football they play on Friday nights for high school, Saturday for College and Sunday's for the NFL... Why we cant figure this out is beyond me.

Relating to the Old Boys point above, too many rugby players are concerned only about themselves and their own playing time. Not nearly enough people are looking to recruit and develop the next generation of rugby players and rugby fans.

Now, in fairness on the Old Boys bit, if someone has a busy, stressful job/life and they like to get out and play rugby a few Saturdays a season, I have no problem with that. Some (okay, just some) donate a lot of money to youth and college rugby, and otherwise just play a few Old Boys matches. They don't coach, they don't adminstrate, but they open their checkbooks for rugby over and over again. And if they are doing that, I say let them enjoy the relaxation that comes from actually playing a rugby game once in a while.

SFGG did a heck of a job hosting Tonga on Saturday. $5 to park, $15 gate, $100 VIP section. Lots of food trucks and vendors. Sponsorships from Nestle's Quik and SOS (a sports hydration powder). Easily over 2,000 people in attendance. They did all of this on their own with no outside press. Anyone wants pointers on how to host a class event, give SFGG a call.

The CRC has 19,275. The USAr college 7's championship has 192 on a rec field in Texas. The difference is so startling. USAr has all but lost total control of the college game.

The CRC comes with flights, ground transportation, hotel and meals in exchange for selling 300 tickets which the teams are finding easier to do.

The USAr championship is 100% funded by the participating teams.

NBC vs USAR webcast.

USAr is done.

Yep. Just ask Arkansas St how much fun they had at the CRC!

Oh, wait...

@Focus: The US Congress passed a law a few decades ago that prevents the NFL from playing games on Friday. This was done to keep Fridays open for high school games.

Men's 15s going varsity isnt impossible. Just a loooong shot. Here's how it gets done. (I know its a best scenario dream)

- NFL buys into rugby being their next big cash cow/hedge against the death of american football. They start a spring pro league and inundate their rabid fan base with the message that they should now also be rugby fans. "Football in the fall, Rugby in the spring" is repeated ad nauseum by the NFL. And so it gets done and a profitable league arises and baseball gets hit again and lacrosse get their sticks melted down for rugby goal posts.

- Colleges see this and think that they finally have a 3rd revenue sport. They all get together and decide to get behind it and get rid of men's programs to get it done. Baseball, lacrosse, gymnastics, cross country, hockey, wrestling get gutted nationwide.

Everything depends on profitability. If the NFL is successful at all, this is a done deal. If they arent then keep dreaming. But the fact that the NFL wants to dabble in rugby even a little bit should give hope to everyone.

The NFL is apparently getting involved with Rugby because NFL Network needs more content. Something called the Independence Cup is being organized in which college football players are going to learn rugby in four weeks and play the London Irish at Gillette Stadium August 10. Ex-England player Henry Paul to coach "US Barbarians" as prelude to American pro league. Aggressive plan that needs lots of money. Unclear how USAR is involved

The NFL network needs content, NFL stadiums need events in the offseason, and NFL owners need more money. This can get done. If they pull it off right. I dont know about this Gilette Stadium game... but we'll see. What's great is that they already have an audience. They just have to force feed rugby to them and get NFL players/personalities to push it like a new drug.

All the average american football fans need is for someone to say "hey asshole, its okay to like rugby. it's cool, its not going to threaten football, so start watching it." Said a-holes will eat it up.

I doubt VERY seriously that a bunch of college football players are going to be squaring off against the London Irish.

Here is a link regarding the London Irish match:


The US team will be mostly Eagles or prospective Eagles ... if there is a collegiate player it will not be someone that comes out of the blue having never played rugby - no collegiate football coach is going to release a player to get involved with this. Maybe a top collegiate rugby player or two. Recall that the Eagles played a British club side down in Hartford a couple years ago ... this is basically the same thing with more exposure.

If the NFL wants to get involved with rugby I am not going to complain. As a business operation the NFL needs to find ways to grow and rugby makes sense as a the "heritage" version of football and frankly the short term investment will be small compared to inning an NFL franchise - it is a pretty low risk investment that could have a large payoff.

"About 70 former NCAA Division I college athletes and recently-waived NFL players will be invited to audition at a two-day combine starting in Minnesota on June 21 and Paul will put them through their paces and whittle the number down to 30 ahead of a four-week camp. The international players will arrive for the last 11 days of the camp."


As I spent the weekend enthusiastically farting into my sofa I realized with people like you involved I'm staying away from helping youth rugby.

Geezer--Great points even with a few mistakes (Utah was suspended not Utah State) and Clarett was gone from Ohio State years before the whole jersey for tattoo thing) I'll tell you why I didn't drive 4.5 hours up to the Philly suburbs to watch the NIT, err CRC...I really don't enjoy sevens that much and I really don't enjoy it enough to drive 4.5 hours, pay all the associated tolls/gas, pay for a hotel room and buy meals. If I can have it on in the background while I have a Sunday afternoon cookout and drink a few Sam Adams (no PBR here) than I am content.

East--There isn't a NRU anymore and the MARFU is suppose to be going by the wayside as well. They are GUs now (well the MARFU thing hasn't been resolved as of yet) you silly bugger. Seeing how the MARFU GU has been set-up as of yet, I am not sure when they will be getting the schedule set for the fall league season and furthermore if the guys in charge are aware of the November 9th match. I sure haven't heard squat about it via the VRU and PRU email lists.

Deal with it-- great points about Aviva attendence and the increase of ticket sales at the NIT, err CRC.

So if I was a interested Div1 football player and havent been asked to any pro days, how do I get in contact with anyone re Independence Cup London Irish match? Combine is supposed to be in Minnesota being ran by Henry Paul. Haven't seen a lick of info on the interwebs other than the GuardianUK and Bleacher Report articles. Google and Bing searches dont yield much info on combine or what interested players should do... Match is 66 days away.

JWC. Our competitions are soft. US rugby is like little league baseball where everyone plays and its not alright to be any good. Then we run into a chainsaw like group of 19 year old's from South Africa. I've got a bad feeling about this JWC.

TIAR has the scoop on the Gillete game being postponed for a year. Though the transcription of the interview is riddled with typos so it makes the guy look like an idiot.

@just saying

When the top college competition in the country is an invitational based on brand and not quality (Varsity Cup) what do you expect?

@just saying & @we're #1

Biggest difference in RSA U20s and USA U20s? The RSA U20s (http://www.irb.com/jwc/teams/team=3773/index.html) are all in a professional rugby academy or on a professional side (Curry Cup or S15) OR on the BlitzBokke (same as being in residency at Chula Vista for us). Despite other advantages (listed below) their daily pace of play is a full two levels above ours.

With few exceptions, most of the USA U20s have been playing rugby as long as the RSAs, just not in a rugby-centric culture. Only a handful of our players are actually 20yo (most of the JrBoks are 20 already). Only TWO of the US players are on a professional side's academy team.

On paper, RSA should have beat us as they did. What we shouldn't have done (on paper) was string together 6-8 phases on attack, make some of the tackles that we did, and pressure them in their end of the pitch late in the game. I'm encouraged. Our boys played up when most teams would have just hung their heads in defeat.

Grant is the USA homer's homer.

Does anyone know anything about how we can watch the ireland match? I assume it isnt going to be televised since i dont see anything about it. But will it be streamed?

Another professional rugby attempt failed. ohhhh wait, wait, wait, excuse me. another professional rugby attempt "postponed." That article was infuriating to read. Just a bunch of BS excuses that dont make any sense. Im not even sure why it was actually postponed other than their blatant incompetence, because they weren't that clear in the article. Who told them to postpone it? The article basically starts off saying here's why its been postponed assuming we already knew it was and the reason behind it....

"We weren't mindful that we'd only have one shot at making this work..." whhhaaaa??? Who told you that and why weren't you mindful of it ...you giant knucklehead. And then the rest of the paragraph becomes unreadable; "because of the long time delay we had in making this contract and that contract, to the point where we actually had the contracts" arghhrgrh!*%$! you dumb mother f#c%rs. What the hell are you talking about. This is why Professional Rugby in the U.S. may never happen. Because morons ruin any credibility that might have had with these dumb PR stunts. If you're not ready, dont make an announcement you fools.

My favorite part is when they start talking about player development. I believe we were originally told that this team would be formed by "Swiftly identifying and developing 15 then 30 then 100 international elite level rugby union XVs players from the graduating NCAA Division 1 athletes and with NFL or CFL players who wish to have another contact football career option" ...and now they are saying, "We want to get five competent Americans" and basically saying they'd fill the rest of the team with foreigners. These guys have absolutely ZERO idea of what they are doing.

"We were going to do it hell or high water this year but since we've gotten more credibility from potential investors this (delaying) strengthens our position by showing more thoughtfulness. I hope Gillette doesn't get fed up with us." ... you sure about that???? Your own sentence here contradicts what your saying in said sentence. ..."strengthens our position by showing more thoughtfulness. I hope Gillette doesn't get fed up with us." DO... YOU... HEAR... YOURSELF!!!???

these are 1st-2nd yr college kids. they more represent the high school standard than college. rolling subs, can't scrum, low skill and commitment standard. then they join a pay your way, disorganized USAr. no chance. best advise would be to enjoy the travel.

@tired of. I'm with you. ridiculous.

Not sure how many times rugby is going to get the NFL/NFL Films to bite and get burned before they give up.

Not clear why invitational tournaments are such a bad idea. The college football bowl system has operated as a tourist and TV driven invitational for years. Basketball's NCAA tourney and the NIT are invitationals. How the invitations are handed out is complex relying on coaches pools, computer models, and selection committees. If invitationals result in a larger fan base and more revenue that attracts better athletes into the game and improves that game, why does it matter if the CRC is an invitational? CRC got on TV and got fans in the seats. There is no evidence to suggest that more fans would turn out for a tournament resulting from a rigid playoff structure.

@deal with it,
you make valid points. Imo the crc relies too heavy on local squads. would the fan base (attendance and viewership) be negatively affected if 3 inferior teams were replaced with the likes of proven quality 7's squads such as san diego state, cal poly, or even the current college 7's champs arkie st.? quality of tournament would immediately improve.

Agree having local squads get crushed doesn't appeal to fans and does not do the winners or losers any good. Villanova had a rough go filling in for Army last minute at CRC.

USA 7's is trying to get the balance right between quality of teams and making the tournament commercially viable.

Ark State would surely have brought more supporters than say NC State or Florida, and Penn State saved themselves this year by getting to the quarter finals because they don't bring many fans despite being in-state.

The best supported team this year was Kutztown, closely followed by Virginia Tech and Life.

Delaware had a lot of CRC support too. Temple had decent support as well. From what I saw in-person on the two days I was there, I'd say Life had the most fans, followed by Delaware, Kutztown and VA Tech(who seemed to all have about the same number), then followed by Temple, then everyone else.

20,000 fans, NBC, sponsors, the CRC is kicking ass. The other choice is not a choice, its a nightmare.

An obvious element of the CRC business model is to expect the participating teams to bring fans. How many rugby clubs put that expectation on their own players? Rugby clubs need to take ownership of growing their fan base for the benefit of their club and the game. Playing crappy rugby, on a crappy pitch, with crappy kit isn't attractive to anyone. Offer a good product and promote it and fans will show up.

The varsity status for rugby is never going to happen. Title IX has given Universities and colleges an excuse to drop men's sports in their schools for whatever reason they want to use. And they all blame Title IX. But that's another post.

But the fact remains that schools will not add a men's sport at this time. There may be the odd school, but what is being asked for rugby as an NCAA fully sanctioned sport is never going to happen.

The only suggestion I have is to get out and continually work hard to make rugby the best you can in your area, regardless what governing body is above you. Work with them or on your own, but work.

"The only suggestion I have is to get out and continually work hard to make rugby the best you can in your area, regardless what governing body is above you. Work with them or on your own, but work."

Most sensible thing I've heard on hear in years!

USA v Ireland will be on Universal Sports Network live and on tv.

On the CRC, Life had the most fans only cause they handed out tshirts like they were hotcakes. They were very smart in their marketing. Va Tech, Delaware, PSU, and Temple were well supported. Don't bash PSU, there alums are mostly out of state in NY and DC. They still had good rep. Temple, Nova, Kutztown and Delaware have alums who stay close to Philly.

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