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27 June 2013


The USA v Tonga match in Los Angeles was a complete failure by USA Rugby. The match was not promoted at all even to the extent that the team based themselves in San Diego at the OTC only coming to LA the day before the match for the captain's run. There was no outreach to youth rugby, to clubs with discount tickets or group ticket offers, no advertising on local radio and they scheduled the KO for a Friday night. I'm sorry you're not going to get a crowd in LA with no promotion, media, rugby community outreach and a KO on a day and time that doesn't work at all for families or people living outside of the 20 or so mile radius of the stadium. Only die hard rugby fans from Orange County and San Diego would make the trip. Ditto for rugby fans from San Gabriel Valley, San Fernando Valley, Inland Empire and parts further north and east.

There was however a pretty good number of Tongan supporters at the match, which could be expected as the Tongan community is large in LA and concentrated within a few miles of the stadium. It was also helped that the Tongan team was at community churches and other events in the week leading up to the match.

Theme of the article is that rugby must "work with what it's got".

USA Rugby got nothing.

The future of rugby belongs to the many entrepreneurs around the country who will come together to grow the game.

That's right USA Rugby has nothing: no ideas, no leaderships, no plan. But US rugby has lots of bright people and a fantastic sport.

Varsity Cup is the future of rugby in America.

I thought CPD was the future?

The CPD could have been but there were two or three issues.

First, the CPD was a regular AND postseason competition, this meant months of heavy travel expenses leading to a postseason of more expense all paid for by the teams.

Second, the competition was managed (or not) by USAr. Of course, there was no broadcast plan and no sponsors.

Third, there were some funky teams and the competition team size was too large.

It appears the Varsity Cup has learned from all this. No USAr involvement. In fact a massive upgrade to the USA7's group and their partner NBC and sponsors. Keeping it to a postseason championship also keeps costs down while retaining the money games in the knockout.

Still the CPD would have worked if Todd Bell and USAr weren't the caretakers.

"Then there is the matter of the Varsity Cup final, between BYU and Cal in out-of-the-way Provo, Utah, outdrawing the Pacific Nations match between the US and Tonga in Los Angeles."

True, but the more damaging comparison is a packed South Field VC final in Provo verses 150 fans in North Carolina for the USAR D1A final.

It was going bad all season for USAR and D1A, then this final. Now its all over but the shouting.

Good piece, but I do disagree on a couple of things:

"Pro rugby requires an audience that already understands the game, a much smaller niche, because the franchises will be new. That worked for Super Rugby teams in the strongholds of Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. In the case of the North America 4, it failed dismally."

NA 4 failed miserably in large part because there was virtually no marketing and there was zero branding. The teams had no identities and were basically used by the Eagles coaches to test combinations. USA Rugby completely failed by allowing that to happen.

"And, though it is an article of faith that a domestic league will supercharge American rugby's competitive development, real-world evidence is not so clear. Major League Soccer is the world's ninth-largest competition, but the US national team is ranked 28th."

Soccer is different for a couple reasons. The first is that because the club game is bigger than the international game, there aren't the same level of restrictions on foreign players. The restrictions on foreign players hurt the US in multiple ways. American-born players have trouble getting contracts and either end up in lower leagues than they should be in or are stuck being amateur in America. We also lose US-eligible players who would lose their contracts if they played for the US. A pro league would solve a lot of those issues that don't exist in soccer.

If IRB, RFU, and SANZAR were serious about growing rugby in emerging countries they would change the foreign eligibility rules to allow more opportunities for players from emerging countries.

IRB grants administered by clowns at USA Rugby are never going to deliver meaningful results. Rather than grants IRB would do better providing seed equity capital for a US pro league run by entrepreneurs who know how to run a business in the US.

"And, though it is an article of faith that a domestic league will supercharge American rugby's competitive development, real-world evidence is not so clear. Major League Soccer is the world's ninth-largest competition, but the US national team is ranked 28th."

That's a cute snapshot. A few years ago you could have argued the opposite based on the fact that we were ranked #5.

How about this - the US team has developed to a point where not getting out of the pool at the world cup is considered failure, and where reaching the quarterfinal is not a new frontier but has been achieved and is a plausible goal every time out.

Eagles 7s team chokes hard against Canada, which is just a preview to the RWC qualifiers where Canada will stomp the rudderless Eagles. Pathetic.

Judging by the pics on Twitter and the neat vids with Paki it looks like the boys are having a great holiday in Moscow. Heard they are going to play some rugby too! #choke #clowns

Losing close pools matches is bad. But Canada finishes #12 as the sixth best second place team. USA is 13th as best hid place team. Neither Canada nor the US had a real chance at making the Cup quarter finals

Canada is a much better administered national program than the US, but "preview to the RWC qualifiers where Canada will stomp the rudderless Eagles" is a bit overstated given the one point difference in their match and in the standings.

7s is a very cruel game-

Is Canada a ft program?

No one will beat Fiji.

Lets win the Plate!

Rio is looking like a longshot at this point. USA is easily the 3rd best team in the Americas and Brazil will get a bye taking up a spot for the continent.

Watched the USA V New Zealand women's game. What a mess. Zero entertainment value.

Any attendance figures for the WC 7s in Moscow? It doesn't look good on the feed. I know it is big stadium and people can spread out, but I am thinking it can't be more than 5,000 a day. Looks like all ex-pats too, local Russians don't seem to have bought in on it. I was hoping that they would.

Weather hurt attendance. Worst heatwave in a century that lasted almost 2 weeks followed by severe storms the last two days.

USA Rugby fraudster Bob Latham looked at home giving out the Plate to the Australian women's team. Being in Moscow, the chewy center of the kleptocracy that is Russia, must warm his cockles.

Canada wins the plate at the RWC 7s. Show up and win at the tourneys that matter (Pan Am, RWC, etc). USA will struggle to get into the Olympics in Rio.

Canada and Argentina and even Brazil have outperformed the US in off the field rugby administration over the past 5 years.

bottom line is that the US didnt end well but in reality a close loss to both CA (plate winner) and NZ(cup winner) is evidence they have closed a huge gap.

Bottom line is that we have the athletes and a full time high performance environment, but not getting the results. This is a coaching and player attitude problem, and I think Alex knows this and that he isn't the man to take them to the next level. The question is who is that man?

Can anyone explain how players are selected for High Performance residency?
What is the selection process?
Are there feeder programs?
How large is the player pool feeding the HP program?

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