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USA Youth & High School Not Blown Away By USA Rugby Proposal

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USA Youth & High School Not Blown Away By USA Rugby Proposal

USA Rugby and USA Youth & HS Rugby are not the same thing.

USA Youth & High School Rugby is still evaluating whether to be part of USA Rugby under USA Rugby terms—or so it appears according to sources.

With USA Y&HS Rugby being a separate 501c3 from USA Rugby and overseeing the game through the dozens of State Governing Bodies around the country, there needs to be a partnership deal—called a Community Agreement—between the two for them to work together. According to some connected with the process, part of the sticking points is USA Rugby's new dues structure and the amount of money USA Rugby wants for its national office.

Many in the youth game have been frustrated with the lack of support from USA Rugby for years, and find it difficult, now, to see justification for the number of salaried positions within the National Governing Body going forward.

Goff Rugby Report recently reported on the possible dues levels, and those numbers are not all that different from the numbers were seeing now—perhaps $1 or $2 off. For Youth & HS that means a base rate of about $18 (we had quoted $20 earlier) with a little over $7 additional for insurance. This would be an increase for youth players, and Rookie Rugby rates would also increase, but High School would drop.

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However, USA Rugby is proposing to charge community members (Youth & HS, College, Club) for training, which, according to previous USA Rugby financial reports, has been paid for by participation fees and World Rugby grants. USA Rugby proposes to create a Community Department to handle things such as disciplinary issues and implementation of guidelines, and there would be a membership department handling the membership system. That, in total, would be six staffmembers all 100% paid for by community dues. There could be some argument that the membership system is also in place for High Performance, and thus the cost should be shared.

USA Rugby is also proposing eight more staffmembers, including finance, human resources, IT, communications, medical, philanthropy, and the CEO. This group would be supported by both Community and High Performance sources, but some Community members have pushed back at the need for all of those people, and for sharing the costs of the CEO and philanthropy staff when much of their work is for High Performance.

GRR asked USA Youth & High School Interim President David Pool about this. He did not say the organization was breaking away, nor did he say they were all-in. 

"We've got places to go with USA Rugby, but we're just looking at options," Pool said. "There's been no decision. We don't have a Community Agreement with USA Rugby yet and as is true with everything, you've got to have agreement on both sides. An agreement has got to work for them, and work for us."

 

A complication is that USA Rugby is still working its way out of bankruptcy, and that is taking a while. Some areas of the country will be able to have fall youth and high school 7s, and those areas need insurance to allow them to play. If USA Rugby isn't out of bankruptcy in time, something else has to be done.

But, added Pool, his group is not jumping right into bed with USA Rugby because "I think it’s just really about the membership, the State Governing Bodies, feeling comfortable and feeling like we're getting value for what we're paying."

Youth and High School membership for USA Rugby could be worth, under the proposed dues structure, as much as $1 million.