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22 October 2015


I do not think it a 'knee-jerk reaction' that we want the USAR CEO replaced by an American with executive leadership experience and no ties to World Rugby or the RFU who understands rugby and has a strong vision and plan for what USA Rugby can be.

It's disingenuous of you to talk about the 2007 World Cup as if Melville really had much to do with the preparations. He was on the job for nine months when that tournament started. It's not incorrect to say the Eagles played three World Cups under his watch, but it's not exactly fair.

Melville was 'placed' by World Rugby (their word), taking a handoff from Morgan Buckley, Steve Griffiths, and Alan Solomons, who had been working here since the second half of 2005. Also, Peter Thorburn, who coached the team in 2006, was retained for 2007. As the national team setup would have been clear enough, and predecessor Doug Arnot long since departed, responsibility can fall to no one else.

Well then the responsibility can fall on World Rugby. Basically you're saying that Melville retaining Thorburn was a faulty decision. So should he have hired a brand new coach that would have had maybe three games in eight months to prepare? Get real.

The point is you're comparing those three World Cups as if Melville had the same amount of time and resources for each. He didn't, so your argument is a fallacy. Just something worth noting to readers, who are less likely to be as objective as so-called "journalists."

"The report is not likely to be made public...". What union do they belong to?As called on by many others this governing body is in need of transparency and accountability. USA Rugby is its own worse enemy. You can tune a piano but you can't tune a fish.

God love Alex Magelby, just recently appointed 15's performance director. He almost alone, with a scathing USOC report has helped transition our 7's team into a real bonified program. He is a guy we all need to embrace as the good in American rugby.

However if he and Nigel are the only ones writing this report and they have not brought in 3-4 other coach/HP people professionals and one or two experts from outside the sport to review then we will get only the report that Alex writes and Nigel reports, which in themselves could be completely different.

Alex would admit to being over his skis here and if he writes about the structures and issues under Melville in a critical manner, does he not risk his job. Doubling this, his perspective will be good, but he is only a couple years into HP experience and a professional set up. We need a serious amount of counter balance, not withstanding the aforementioned issue with criticizing your boss and connecting performance to overall structural or lack of structural systems.

He will need to be critical of our coaches, players, mgmt. and more on top of the pathways and overall game. With that, as the author of the report those people (many of whom may be asked to go, but have a huge role to play in USAR at other levels and maybe back at NT level in the future) now know who made the recommendations.

This is not a one man job, or a two man with Nigel. Further, who on the board is capable of reviewing a report? Not one has HP experience or ways to draw or parallel their business pedigree to HP. These are decades old college and club rugby, who have not been involved with the game for years, and therefor men with limited scope. Our two athletes; the male has very few caps, no pro experience so has limited perspective. Our female may be the only one qualified as she was at USAR and left, because she could not stand the disfunction. Perhaps our lady in white that we need?

Where does this merry go round stop?

The one question that I never see asked is this: What is unique about American sports culture that can be applied to rugby for the benefit of the sport of rugby. The answer is sitting right in front of us. It is a system that develops world class athletes both in sports major and minor. It is a system that NO OTHER country has; yet US Rugby has not fully engaged this system to the benefit of the game. It is called college athletics.

Where else in the world do young athletes get placed for four years in the prime of their youth in an environment where they can perfect their craft other than the elite academy systems of top professional clubs?

I can think of only a very small handful of collegiate rugby programs that are taking advantage of the NCAA model that are year after year turning out excellent athletes. Cal and BYU come to the top of the mind right away. If 30 such programs were in place and these schools were playing each other on a routine basis then our young rugby athletes would be learning the sport in an environment that is competitive from week to week and year to year. The athletes graduating out of these programs would be ready for a domestic professional league, representative honors and even recruitment to professional clubs around the world.

Having a good number of such programs in place would also give young high school athletes options for where to further their educations while playing rugby in a competitive environment.

I am not saying it is an easy thing nor am I saying it is something that would be cheap but getting the right schools involved could attract sponsorship and TV airtime (a lot more easily than some upstart "professional" league). What I am saying, though, is that this is a uniquely American way of doing things that the average person relates to and it a proven method for developing talented athletes - not just in the big name sports but in the non revenue producing sports as well.

We can continue forward doing one variation or another of what we have since the inception of USA Rugby and the results will be essentially the same.

With a stated goal of hosting a World Cup in 2027 I believe that in order to have a competitive national team in place the short and mid range goal (up through about 2020) should be to have the strongest possible collegiate competition in place followed by the roll out of a professional league.

Until US Rugby embraces and takes full advantage of that which develops some of the worlds greatest athletes we will continue to see results like those of the Eagle campaign at this World Cup.

Oh, yay. Another World Cup, another impassioned screed about the wonders of college rugby.

Japan has college rugby - it's the foundation of their game too - and Eddie Jones had a dig at it on his way out because as he saw it, he had to coach up 22 year old graduates who had never played against grown men before. It stunted development, because 22 year olds with huge talent in most rugby playing countries are playing senior rugby, not college rugby. In most sports besides the NFL, college is for late bloomers, not rising stars.

I get your point, Doug, that it's about pragmatism - rugby in the US doesn't pay, and we're all going to have to live with guys who put their education first (or their scholarship with the adjoining D1 football team first) and rugby second. But sometimes you're coming off as another guy who wants all the eggs in the college rugby basket. Models Americans are familiar with? Well Americans are increasingly getting familiar with the soccer model, where colleges are unimportant. Kids are turning down scholarships to enter MLS academies and fans are turning out to watch 19 year olds play against grown men for their local MLS club rather than watch UCLA vs. BYU soccer. Rugby worldwide has basically the same model. It's time for USA rugby to take club rugby a little bit more seriously - that we've actually regressed on having something approaching a national club competition is a disgrace. Our best clubs have an arm's length relationship to USA Rugby.

That's not at all to say that college rugby is a joke, but it's just one cog in the machine. The best of both worlds would be to get colleges playing in men's leagues, but our unique American model freaks out at the reality of college sports merely being a finishing school for the pros.

At the end of the day, I couldn't care less about doing it the American way, or twisting the game in order to attract a few more eyeballs. Let's go down the path to not suck the quickest we can go, which is probably going to not involve doing things the American way.

Excellent points Flynn. Another sport that has moved away from the high school model to that of a "high performance" model would be basketball. AAU basketball has left high school basketball behind as far as recruiting goes. Yes, the pathway does still include a stop in college or a stop overseas but that is thanks to a powerful lobby of the ncaa. Sooner or later the nba will drop the one year rule and return to drafting high school players. The ncaa should be ashamed of themselves for making these kids go to school for a year, as if they are going to class in their second semester. Baseball is another sport that is going away from high school. Travel baseball is now reaching down to 8 year olds and little league baseball is starting to die on the vine. Of course college baseball has never been the only option for baseball players.

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