USA Rugby Board Meeting Review: March 2019

Headline discussions include commercial updates, financials for USA Rugby and USA Rugby Partners, reorganization of Community/Mass Participation department.

  • Headline discussions include commercial updates, financials for USA Rugby and USA Rugby Partners, reorganization of Community/Mass Participation department.
  • Committee on Diversity and Inclusion presented by Phaidra Knight and USA Rugby Human Resources.
  • Updates provided on the ongoing relationship with Major League Rugby (MLR).
  • Updates on the High Performance department’s strategy and structure.

LAS VEGAS, NV – In tandem with USA Sevens, the USA Rugby Board of Directors held their first quarter meeting in Las Vegas to discuss and review current standings and union updates. Led by Board Chair, Barbara O’Brien, discussion topics included a general update from Interim CEO Ross Young, commercial updates from USA Rugby Partners, diversity and inclusion planning, along with latest updates on the USA Rugby Executive Committee and forthcoming High-Performance strategy. 

Ross Young led the meeting with a general union update, headlined by positives and challenges coming out of the National Development Summit. With Young, Gleason and Griffin conducting an open Q&A with those in attendance and watching live online, a better understanding for the priorities of the public was communicated directly. Young additionally presented the possibility of coordinating future board and congress meetings around the yearly conference. Young also presented an update around the ongoing national office reorganization and the formal kickoff to the strategic planning process.

Mark Griffin followed suit with an update from USA Rugby Partners, having officially transitioned out of the previous Rugby International Marketing structure. Griffin first gave an update on the final stages of negotiations to secure a new presenting partner, with the hopes for concrete details to come in early spring. Griffin followed with an overview status report on USA Rugby Partners financials and plans for the 2019 partnership structure. The latter focusing on developing partnerships that are meaningful towards the growth of the union and domestic game. Additionally, for the commercial arm to build stronger working structures with USA Rugby communications and events departments.

Phaidra Knight then updated on diversity and inclusion efforts, notably pertaining to fundraising and a formal committee. Through the network created by the Golden Eagles, she announced the recently launched women’s specific assembly with Knight and two additional donors already committed to the group while in Las Vegas. Over $60,000 was initially raised for the women’s program exclusively. Knight discussed the terms of reference for a newly chartered Diversity & Inclusion Committee, which the Board unanimously voted to accept.

Eric Gleason providing a preliminary overview of the 2018 financials and review of 2019 goals, with targeted focus around strategic investments in staffing – particularly in Mass Participation and Community Rugby.

Kurt Weaver presented on how the new structure, and increased staffing, within Mass Participation will better align support around club, college and youth.

Chris Reed delivered the Philanthropic results from 2018, strategy for 2019, and how the combined responsibilities in the area of Membership will offer a greater level of support and growth potential.

Paul Santinelli then provided further context on the status of the USA Rugby Executive Committee (EXCO). Applications and nominations have been received, whereas the next step is to interview and populate the committee with a diverse group of people representing all sectors of the USA Rugby membership. The group cohesively urged the goals of the EXCO to be clear and upfront, ahead of selection.

In terms of governance review, a membership wide survey has been distributed to merge the public interest into ongoing discussions. Additionally, congress-approved phase one bylaw changes were submitted for distribution to the membership. Finally, a proposed committee structure whereas chairperson term limits, membership attendance and strict terms of reference was presented and approved. The overarching goal is to better align the committee structure with the values and goals of both the national office and Board.

Lastly, Young provided an overview of the current relationship with Major League Rugby (MLR) with a focus to finalize a sanctioning agreement and to work collaboratively around supporting national high performance development. With the ongoing review of candidates within the High-Performance Director pipeline, the Board also agreed to initiate a more comprehensive review of the full HP department and structure with immediate effect.