Friday, October 04, 2013

American Rugby Premiership Is it Still a Go?

Yesterday we reported via a press release from the Glendale Raptors, that eight teams and USA Rugby had reached a deal that would bring the American Rugby Premiership to life in the spring of 2014.  However, as the day went on we received word that the Raptors may have jumped the gun with their press release, and all things in fact were not in place. 

After doing some research, it has come to our attention that the Glendale press release was inaccurate, and there are still several options in play that have kept the deal from being finalized, and kept the league from coming to life.

We've had the opportunity to speak with several sources who were involved with the the meeting that was held in Denver Co. on Wednesday, and many of the parties involved were not happy with the outcome.  The frustration stems from USA Rugby's sudden involvement with the new league.  A venture that until recently they wanted nothing to do with.

The original idea behind the American Rugby Premiership or the West Coast Cup as it as known in it's origin was to bring together the best teams in the West to play in a premier league that would be beneficial to all clubs involved both from a rugby and a financial standpoint. The league was to operate under the guidelines of USA Rugby in regards to standards and practices, but it would live outside of the current domestic structure. Thus allowing them to secure sponsorship and media rights that leagues under USA Rugby's control are not able to access.

As the momentum behind the league began to grow, USA Rugby took note, and realized they were in danger of being left behind.  They did not want to see eight of their best and prominent clubs gain enough leverage to potentially leave the union one day if they chose (though possible this was never the idea behind the league).  The eight teams involved in the league never had the intent to damage USA Rugby, they entered the deal with the goal of building and growing rugby in the USA via a better domestic competition, something that any rugby observer would agree is needed.

USA Rugby's arrival to the meeting was their last ditch effort to keep the eight clubs from going on their own, and they pulled out all the stops to insure they could keep the clubs in house.  Offers were made to invite four new teams into the USA's Elite Cup competition, when those programs had previously been shunned from the competition.   USA Rugby also threatened to take away the sanctioning of the league despite the Premiership's efforts to conform to USA Rugby's guidelines.  This threat effectively cut the Premiership off at the knees, putting several of the clubs in a tough position as they did not want to cross USA Rugby.

After presentations were made the clubs were left to decide amongst themselves what their options will be.  During the meetings the clubs came to several conclusions but nothing is set in stone just yet.  The Glendale press release was correct in that the American Premiership will likely partner with USA Rugby to some degree.  However, the full extent is not currently known.  In addition, according to our sources, the clubs in still have the opportunity to break away and push the league in it's original format that would exclude USA Rugby from the proceedings.  This seems to be a popular option with several clubs involved given their distrust in USA Rugby, and who could blame them considering how USA mismanaged so many other elite leagues, and eventually ran them into the ground.

What we do know for certain is there will be a Premiership league that will play this spring, exactly who will run that league, and how it will function is still to be determined.  USA Rugby's interference in these proceedings have muffled was was one a cut and dry situation.  If USA Rugby is to get their way and pull the league under their mantel don't be surprised if there are major ripples felt throughout the rugby community, and possibly another major shake up in West Coast rugby.

We will continue to update and bring more stories forward as the information comes in.


  1. Thanks for this update and clarification. Looking forward to more updates as the saga continues!

  2. Anonymous11:55 AM

    This article needs to get out to the rugby community to finally call USA Rugby out on its strong arming tactics. Until they can run the damn union halfway competently, they should NOT take on ANY new work. Let these clubs make this idea a success, and benefit from the value that increased competition will bring to its player base....idiots!

  3. Anonymous1:17 PM

    I heard a rumor there's a bunch of youth states (SRO's?) seriously contemplating leaving USA Rugby to form their own organization because USA Rugby just takes their money and gives little in return. Does anyone have more info on this?

  4. I've heard that rumor as well. And it seems to have some legs at the very least. I'll provide more information once it becomes available.