As reported previously, http://teamhandballnews.com/news.php?extend.77 USA Rugby was undergoing some serious upheaval similar to USA Team Handball debacle. USA Rugby, however, has apparently looked over the abyss and decided to step back away from it. Indeed their old Board of Directors, recently agreed to vote themselves out of a job and seat a new, slimmed down Board of Directors primarily consisting of “Independent Candidates.” http://www.usarugby.org/cgi-bin/02/press/displayFullAnnouncement.pl?announcementId=394 Where have I heard of that before?
And this new Board has apparently been met with approval by the skeptical rank and file according to blog and forum commentary. http://www.gainline.us/gainline/2006/07/roberts_wacker_.html Not too surprising, if you look at the new director credentials, which include some pretty strong marketing and advertising expertise. They won’t necessarily solve all of USA Rugby’s budgetary and sponsorship problems overnight, but you’d like to think that if anyone can steer Rugby in the US to the next level, this Board can. Who knows, maybe 3 years from now some of these Board members, flush with all their success in turning USA Rugby around, will be looking for a new challenge in another developing sport.
A side note to all this is the International Rugby Board’s (IRB) active engagement with USA Rugby. The IRB is the Rugby equivalent to the IHF, and they have invested significant funding to develop Rugby in Canada and the USA. (Were not talking a few hundred balls here, we’re talking millions of dollars.) In fact, because of their significant investment the IRB has essentially taken over day to day management of USA Rugby on an interim basis, including the appointment of an interim coach. This in some ways parallel’s the USOC’s current oversight of Handball. While I would like to see the IHF engaged with American Handball development in a similar fashion, I’m guessing that the IHF’s funding profile is nowhere near the IRB’s. As the IRB World Cup is the 3rd most watched and attended world sporting competition (after the Soccer World Cup and the Olympics) they likely have a lot more money to throw around. But, you can be sure they are not throwing that money around idly. They obviously see the huge potential of the USA market and are hopeful that they can entice some portion of it to become rugby fans.