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Several Seattle players also won the club 7s title with Seattle-OPSB last August. Pat Clifton photo

The inaugural Elite City 7s was completed on the weekend, with Serevi-powered Seattle beating also Serevi-powered San Diego in the final to win its way into the World Club 7s in August. The tournament was the first of its kind, and the jury’s still out on what to think of it.

One bone of contention has been the usage of Olympic Training Center contracted players. Seattle and San Diego fielded contracted players, Seattle just the one in Andrew Durutalo and San Diego many more, but several coaches were under the impression an agreement to not use OTC players was in effect.  

“In one of the first calls, we basically asked, was Richie Walker just going to get OTC guys, or was he going to have to go out and do what the rest of us were doing and find a team?,” said Philadelphia coach Chris Ryan. “We were told those guys were going to be in rest periods, and would not be on the team. There’s five or six guys that were on that call that would tell you the same thing.”

USA Rugby’s club director and one of the main organizers of the event, Jim Snyder, admitted there had been some miscommunication, but maintains coaches were never explicitly told to not use contracted players.   

“We understand the issue that created for some of the other teams, and the questions around competitive distribution that it created,” said Snyder.

“But with the country being the size that it is and with the travel costs associated with those guys, we ultimately had to come around and say there’s a pool of guys that are in one region, and they can be eligible to play in that region. If a team has the ability and the resources to structure their team to be enticing enough to lure some of those guys away and have them play for their City, then that competition they’re welcome to.”

Geographical regions were drawn around each of the teams, and at least half of each roster had to be filled with people within the home region.

“At the end of the day it was about getting the best 144 players at a single tournament, so that those guys that aren’t in residency could prove that they should be,” Snyder said.

It was also about naming the second American team to get a free trip to play in the World Club 7s at famous Twickenham.

“We went in with the carrot being the trip to London, and none of us wanted to waste all our time and energy if somebody was going to get 1-12 on his roster being better players than we had, and with no work. It just didn’t seem right,” said Ryan.

“The goal was changed midway through, and I don’t think all of us were told the goal was changed midway through, to become more of a developmental thing and a way to play some of the best rugby we possibly could. I think we all would have agreed to that in the beginning if there wasn’t a trip to London at the end of it.”

“The best way that I can put it when we were crafting this thing is that it was half high performance selection tool, slash playing environment for the guys that are of that caliber to start to bring back a representative 7s that was meaningful, and the other half was made-for-TV movie,” said Snyder.

“We came up with new team brands and new team logos, and they’re going to London on this big stage to be televised, so it was about 50/50, but it was designed for both of those purposes. We thought we could kill both of those birds with one stone, and I think largely we did.”

The tournament was just in its first year and has a ways to go – some teams struggled to get all the players they wanted as they were skeptical of the worth of playing in the event, the web stream was inconsistent, and obviously the player eligibility guidelines need to be worked out and transparent. Ultimately, though, 12 teams got the chance to play for a pretty cool prize in front of the National Team coach.

Comments

"Web stream inconsistent" is the understatement of the year. Same with publicity. Can't imagine a sponsor being happy with all this. Ditto re: no programs at Scotland game. No team member visibles on the big screen etc etc. Remembering the club competitions also ... And the web site's lack of updates for days not minutes. Not rocket science. What company in the world would tolerate all this? Just wondering.
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Coach Cornbill, We get what we (don't) pay for. The web-stream was donated. We sent in several requests for information as to where to submit a bid for the webstream (partner in a company that owns a broadcast trailer with a multi-camera set-up and redundant streaming systems), but received only one reply and that was a run-around. Our bid would've been $2500 (about what StreamSports spent to get their two-man team to Texas with gear) including commentary and interviews during the breaks. I'm not sure why there was a lack of updates. One can create a simple Google spreadsheet to input the scores to, publish it to the web, embed the source code into the website, and have an intern/volunteer update scores into the spreadsheet from their phone. The embed will update every 5-10 minutes automatically. It takes effort to do a good job at keeping folks informed of scores and maintaining a consistent stream (offering the stream in SD & HD is important). It also takes effort on the user's end to ensure they have done everything to receive the stream well. That's the real problem with streaming. A company can put out a great webstream, but if the end user isn't set-up to receive it, the stream will look bad and the webstreaming company (not the end user) gets the blame. Perception is always more important than reality. This issue hurts sponsor dollars, as well. Regarding the team make-up: IF there is a next time, expect every team to put together the absolute best mix of athletes - experienced ruggers and those new to the game but phenoms nonetheless - that they can to win. I actually hope that Tiger and NRODA have learned a lesson from this and do exactly that.
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Thanks for the input, but scores were updated on the USA Rugby TV and USARugby.org/city-7s website after the final whistle of each match during the weekend. Admittedly, users would have had to have refreshed the USA Rugby TV page to see the updated scores, but they were updated in real time. Also, the USAvSCO programme was available on the USA Rugby App on iOS and Android devices and can still be found on the USAvSCO event page.
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Good grief, I guess you still dont get it. Suggest you pretend you're a person who is not privy that the programme is on an app and you've gone to the game like a normal sporting event. (aka general public) Was the fact that it existed posted on the big screen or told by stadium staff? Were players numbers and pictures? When was the kickoff time changed and where was it posted? (keep pretending). Also those scores were not posted as you said. How do I know these things? Because I was surrounded by people complaining and searching through Twitter. It really sounds like we are a club of insiders instead of marketing to the general public. You also may wish to address the other points in the above posts.
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Point taken, coach. We should be marketing all of it to the public and making it available via a very easy access to that same public. I will keep that in mind when planning future webcasts (I cannot speak for the other entity, apologies).
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You voted '+1'.