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“We can’t talk much about it,” said USA Rugby CEO Nigel Melville. “But we closer now than we’ve been since I’ve been here.”
There are several options on the table, from just covering major expenses (travel, kit) to paying players a full-time wage. Several observers have noted that most professional leagues don’t start out paying players millions of dollars – the NFL had players holding down off-season jobs for most of its history; the same is true of other major American leagues.
“Some people want to leap from nothing right to the end game,” said Melville. “You go from no per diem, to per diem. Then you go to part-time, and eventually full-time. You don’t go to full-time straight away.”
Professional or semi-pro leagues can cost a lot or a lot more than a lot. Consider a four-team league where every team plays each other twice. You could cover travel expenses for about $160,000, which isn’t a deal-breaker amount even in the small rugby financial universe of the USA.
But add just a $75 per diem for all the players and a couple of coaches, and suddenly you’re looking at close to $400,000.
Increase that to $100 a day and you’re looking at about half a million.
Any sort of semi-professional competition, then; with the right-size season and pay for players and travel, as well as referee and field expenses, could easily top $1 million.