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Coach Talk
Word is that USA Rugby is down to a short, short list for the 15s MNT coaching job.

In the end I really feel like this is in turn an important pick and not an important pick. The reason I feel this way is that the job won’t matter much if we don’t have a cohesive plan to scout players, give them select-side or tryout opportunities, and if we don’t do a better job of tracking players as they move up the ranks.

Whichever person gets the job will have to create a network of eyes and ears, and will have to work with USA Rugby to create non-test-match competition opportunities.

This job is more work than head coaching jobs in other countries … and if USA Rugby hires a coach from another country, they must realize they will need a domestic player development director anyway.


Pro Talk

So the talk about this possible professional 15s league starting in 2013 is pretty serious. That doesn’t mean I think for sure it will happen – we’ve heard serious talk before. But what I think is important about this plan is that Rugby Canada and USA Rugby have signed off (at least in that they are willing to lend an endorsement). In addition, I think the model has potential. Professional rugby should be populated by clubs that can stand alone.

Winning on the field isn’t enough. You need a club that can pay its bills, and has a model for being a profitable enterprise. So Glendale, or the Kansas City/Sporting KC partnership, or Utah Warriors, or SFGG are, in my mind, the types of clubs you look at. Even, perhaps, the Pittsburgh Harlequins. Others that are successful, but have no prospects to make a profit, even if they kick butt on the field, shouldn’t be considered.

Speaking Of ….
Pittsburgh … longtime Harlequin player and administrator Eric Jerpe got names the new varsity rugby coach at Wheeling Jesuit University. This is yet another university not particularly well-known in any sporting venue that has looked at opportunities to stand out from the crowd and attract students, and chose rugby as part of the plan.

I have one story about Eric. We were both at the NAWIRA Festival of Youth in Cocoa Beach in 2003, which was a lot of fun, by the way. We were sitting up on an elevated platform – I covering the games, Eric working the score tracking and the PA system.

We hooked up a song on the PA system, which turned out to be Who Let the Dogs Out by the Baha Men. OK, fine, obvious, but fine. Then it turned out, whoever had provided the music had only one CD, and the next song from the Baha Men came on. I started listening to it, turned to Eric and said “Eric, this is a really filthy song.” He listened, and nodded. Not cool for a youth tournament.

So that was his job for the rest of the day, when there was a break in the action, he played Who Let the Dogs Out. Over, and over again.


Varsity Plans
Women’s rugby was supposed to be where rugby would become varsity, but progress has been terribly slow. I am not sure why that is, but I’ve long said that players stay playing in women’s rugby longer than men do, and I wish there were more women coaches interested in mainstreaming the sport.

I will say that news is that one quasi-varsity men’s program is looking to get funding for a women’s team. That could be a massive step forward for other schools to emulate.

Personally, I think that if you are connected or interested in women’s rugby, and you want to coach, you could do a lot worse than to create a plan to make your college nearby a place for varsity women’s rugby. It is possible, but I think USA Rugby is behind in this initiative. I wrote about this over ten years ago, and some progress has been made since then, but not much.


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