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Opinion: the Glendale Deal Is a Boon For USA Rugby

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Opinion: the Glendale Deal Is a Boon For USA Rugby

The Collegiate All Americans played Canadian Universities last July at Infinity Park. David Barpal photo.

Is USA Rugby's partnership with the City of Glendale a good deal? According to sources we've talked to, it's actually a really great deal.

This is an Opinion Column by Goff Rugby Report Editor Alex Goff

Oddly, this whole partnership deal had the potential to be put together about 15 years ago. Back then, USA Rugby CEO Doug Arnot wanted the organization to move to a location where it could establish a national Center of Rugby, sort of in the vein of what Rugby Canada developed in Langford BC, with offices and also a venue that could host lower-level internationals and other major events. 

But there were some politics associated with USA Rugby going all-in with Glendale—a case of showing favoritism to one club (which is how most in the country saw Glendale) over others with longer histories.

And yet Glendale was always there, hosting Eagles games whenever they were asked, hosting training sessions, and championships. They took on the Women's 7s World Series stop, too.

According to reports, Glendale Mayor Mike Dunafon was constantly suggesting something bigger for Glendale and USA Rugby. But USA Rugby, in its wisdom, was too good to accept a favor.

Until now.

According to sources, the deal struck between Glendale and USA Rugby is enormously favorable not only to the governing body, but to its membership. In short, what we were worried about (see video below) probably won't happen, at least in the short-term, and that's because the City of Glendale has been so generous.

This is what Glendale is giving USA Rugby:

  • Rent-free offices for one year. After one year, they'd be expected to pay rent, but it's rent-free right now and USA Rugby has already officially moved in and changed its address.
  • Free use of Infinity Park field facilities for USA High Performance teams—Men, Women, College, Boys, Girls.
  • Free use of their High Performance gym for all USA HP teams.
  • Two Men's 15s National Team games and one Women's 15s National Team game, hosted for free and, we understand, with video production done for free.
  • Special deals on local hotels for USA teams.

The use of the facilities has no expiration date, and is available equally for all teams. The hotels are usually within walking distance of Infinity Park, meaning teams can safe money in vehicle rentals, as well.

What does Glendale get out of this? Dunafon has been a supporter of American rugby for decades, and he just wants it to happen. That's part of it. But another part has to do with prestige. Suddenly Glendale becomes the USA 15-a-side rugby High Performance City. It's an international sports training hub, and you know that when the USA plays their, their opponents will be there, preparing and playing, as well. That's a boost to tourism and the tax base.

In addition, because USA Rugby is a non-profit National Governing Body, Glendale is fulfilling part of its mission to support non-profit organizations and efforts.

So our own worries in the video above—that High Performance costs might leak over into the membership budget, may not come to pass. After many years of patiently being rebuffed, the City of Glendale appears to have come through with a plan to actually improve USA Rugby's high performance training and preparation, while at the same time saving the organization money. Had this not happened, one wonders how bleak USA Rugby's future would be.

As it is, the Eagles—all types—have a place to go. And the membership appears to be protected from unexpected HP costs. It's just amazing it took USA Rugby's near-collapse for them to see this opportunity for what it was.