USA Rugby

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USA Rugby
USA Rugby Logo.svg
Sport Rugby union
Founded 1975
WR affiliation 1987
RAN affiliation 2001
Chairman Will Chang
President Dan Payne
Men's coach Gary Gold
Sevens coach Mike Friday

USA Rugby (officially the United States of America Rugby Football Union, Ltd.) is the national governing body for the sport of rugby union in the United States. Its role is to serve as "the national governing body charged with achieving and maintaining high levels of quality in all aspects of rugby."[1] USA Rugby is responsible for the promotion and development of the sport in the U.S. and promotion of U.S. international participation.[2]

USA Rugby was founded in 1975 as the United States of America Rugby Football Union, and it organized the first U.S. national team match in 1976. Today, USA Rugby has over 115,000 members, the largest segment being college rugby with over 32,000 members.[3] USA Rugby oversees 1,200 high school teams, 900 college teams, 700 senior club teams, and 400 youth teams.[4] USA Rugby administers all United States national teams: senior men's and women's teams, sevens teams for both men and women, and under-20 national teams for both sexes. The organization also sponsors college rugby for both sexes, although since the 2010–11 academic year the NCAA has designated women's rugby an emerging varsity sport.

USA Rugby is governed by a nine-member Board of Directors and a 27-member Congress, and is led by CEO Dan Payne. It is a member of World Rugby and a member of the United States Olympic Committee. The headquarters for USA Rugby is located in Boulder, Colorado.

Rugby International Marketing, a subsidiary of USA Rugby, operates TheRugbyChannel.TV, an over-the-top streaming service.[5][6]

Recent Achievements[edit]

  • In the 2009–10 Sevens World Series, the men's sevens team finished the season ranked 10th in the world, their highest ranking to date at that time.
  • In 2010, USA Rugby became an Olympic Sport member of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).[7]
  • In 2011, the International Rugby Board, now known as World Rugby, gave its Development Award to USA Rugby for its Rookie Rugby program that introduced over 100,000 new children to youth rugby.[8]
  • In 2014, the U.S. vs New Zealand match sold out Soldier Field in Chicago, drawing over 60,000 fans and setting a U.S. attendance record.
  • In 2015, USA Rugby won the bid to host the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens in the San Francisco Bay Area.[9]
  • In 2015, the U.S. national sevens team finished sixth in the 2014–15 Sevens World Series, including first at the 2015 London Sevens. The team also defeated Canada 21–5 to win the 2015 NACRA Sevens and qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympics.
  • In 2017, the U.S. national sevens team finished fifth in the 2016-17 World Rugby Sevens Series, their highest ever finish.
  • In 2018, The U.S. national XV team won the America's Rugby Cup (ARC)

Governance and Leadership[edit]

USA Rugby is governed by its Board of Directors and its Congress. The Board is composed of 9 members: 6 independent directors, 2 international athletes, and 1 representative from USA Rugby's Congress. Board members are:[10]

The Congress is composed of 27 members: 3 members from each of the 7 Territorial Unions, and 6 international athletes.[12]

Gary Gold began his tenure as the head coach of the men's national team on January 1, 2018.[13] Mike Friday is the head coach of the men's national sevens team.

Peter Steinberg is the Women's Eagles head coach, and Ric Suggit is the head coach of the Women's Sevens team.

International Representation[edit]

USA Rugby became a member of the International Rugby Football Board in 1987. The worldwide body would become the International Rugby Board (IRB) in 1998 and World Rugby in 2014. USA Rugby does not hold a vote on WR's 28 member Executive Council—the majority of votes are held by the 8 founding nations—although NACRA members collectively hold one vote on the Executive Council.[14] In December 2011, for the first time, USA Rugby placed a representative on the 10-man Executive Committee. Bob Latham, in his role as chair of Rugby Americas North (RAN; known as NACRA before 2016), represents RAN on the Executive Committee.[15]

USA Rugby is a member of RAN, one of the six regional unions that comprise World Rugby. With over 80,000 registered rugby players, USA Rugby is the largest rugby member in RAN.[16]

USA Rugby also has relationships with international multi-sport organizations. USA Rugby is a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee and interacts with the International Olympic Committee. USA Rugby also interacts with the Pan American Sport Organization, and rugby has been a sport at the Pan Am Games since 2011.


USA Rugby generally earns between $8 million to $16 million in annual revenues, with the majority of the revenue coming from (1) membership dues, (2) event revenue, (3) grants, and (4) sponsorship. Their principal expenses are (1) High Performance, (2) Men's National Team, and (3) Marketing and Fundraising.[1] In 2010, USA Rugby paid over $200,000 each to its CEO Nigel Melville and its then head coach Eddie O'Sullivan.[1] As of 2012, Nigel Melville's compensation was $250,000.[17] USA Rugby experienced a financial crunch in 2016–2017, due to the bankruptcy of kit sponsor BLK and currency exchange rates that affect grants received from World Rugby.[18]

USA Rugby annual revenues are below, along with the components that generated the majority of revenue:[19]

Year Total
Grants Sponsors Event
International comparisons
(annual reported revenue)
2016[20] $14.7m $4.8m $2m $2.3m $2.7m Scotland (£47.3m), Ireland (€76m/£67m), Wales (£73.3m), England (£407m) [21]
2015[22] $14.6m $4.7m $2.4m $2.5m $2.1m Wales (£64m);[23] Scotland (£44m).[24]
2014[25] $16.4m $4.5m $2.0m $2.2m $5.4m Wales (£58m),[26] Scotland (£44m).[27]
2013[28] $12.2m $4.3m $1.7m $1.9m $1.8m Ireland (€62m), Wales (£61m),
New Zealand (£54m), Scotland (£39m).
2012[29] $10.2m $4.3m $1.7m $1.6m $1.1m Scotland (£38m).[30]
2011[31] $7.5m $3.2m $1.7m $1.5m $0.2m Scotland (£35m);[32] Canada (C$9m).[30]
2010[33] $6.4m $2.8m $1.4m $1.0m $0.2m Scotland (£34m)[34]
2009[35] $8.1m $2.7m $1.3m $2.4m $0.8m
2008[36] $8.0m $2.0m $1.4m $2.7m $0.9m
2007[37] $6.7m $2.2m $1.7m $0.9m $1.0m
2006[38] $5.3m $2.0m $1.3m $0.2m $0.7m


  • Grants come mainly from the International Rugby Board and from the United States Olympic Committee.


The U.S. men's national team, the Eagles, won the Gold Medal in Olympic rugby in 1920 and 1924. After that time, rugby in the U.S. stagnated while continuing to grow in other parts of the world.

Beginning in the 1960s and continuing through the 1970s, the sport of rugby union enjoyed a renaissance in the USA. This created the need for a national governing body to represent the United States. On June 7, 1975, four territorial organizations (Pacific Coast, West, Midwest and East) gathered in Chicago, Illinois and formed the United States of America Rugby Football Union (now known as USA Rugby). USA Rugby then fielded its first national team on January 31, 1976 in a match against Australia in Anaheim, California, which Australia won 24–12.

In 1993, the Southern California RFU, a local area union of the Pacific Coast RFU, applied to become a separate territory. This was an impetus for others around the country to do the same, changing the make-up of USA Rugby, which now has seven territories (Pacific, Southern California, West, Midwest, South, Northeastern, and Mid-Atlantic).

USA Rugby lobbied for several years for participation in the IRB Sevens World Series. It was finally was awarded the annual USA Sevens tournament, beginning in 2004 with Los Angeles as the venue for the initial USA Sevens tournaments. In the summer of 2006, the tournament was moved to Petco Park in San Diego. Since 2010, the tournament has been held every year at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas and has been broadcast live on NBC.

USA Rugby is a Founding Sports Partner of the Sports Museum of America, joining more than 50 other single-sport Halls of Fame, national governing bodies, museums and other organizations across North America, to richly celebrate the history, grandeur and significance of sports in American culture. Opened in New York City on May 7, 2008, the Sports Museum of America showcases USA Rugby in its Hall of Halls Gallery, in return for their support of the creation of the Nation's first all-sports museum experience.

In 2014, USA Rugby created Rugby International Marketing, a for-profit company that is responsible for promoting the sport of rugby.[39]

The history spanning 135 years of American rugby has been compiled in the documentary, A Giant Awakens: the Rise of American Rugby.

National Teams: The Eagles[edit]

USA Rugby is responsible for organizing the various US national teams:

Men's teams[edit]

Women's teams[edit]

Professional rugby[edit]

The Professional Rugby Organization, known as PRO Rugby, was a USA Rugby sanctioned American professional rugby union competition that began play in 2016. This was the first professional rugby competition in North America.[40] PRO played only the 2016 season, before it ceased operations as of January 2017.

Major League Rugby, another professional competition, was founded in late 2017. It began play in 2018 with seven teams.

Club competitions[edit]

Rugby Super League, organized and sanctioned by USA Rugby, was the premier national level of men's club competition in the USA.[41] It was founded in 1996, but ended play as of 2012 following the Great Recession.[42] Following the demise of the Super League, the Pacific Rugby Premiership was formed in 2013, and began play in 2014 as the top level of men's club competition in the U.S.

The USA Rugby club structure sees the United States divided into two leagues: West and East. Within each league there are four conferences, with the winners of each conference's division advancing to the league semifinals, and the two league champions competing in the national championship.[43]

East: Atlantic North, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, Southern

West: Pacific North, Pacific South, Frontier, Red River

College rugby[edit]

The Collegiate Rugby Championship is a rugby sevens competition that has been held every year in June since 2010.[44] The tournament is the highest profile college rugby tournament in the U.S., and is broadcast live on NBC every year from PPL Park in Philadelphia. Every year, the number of spectators increase, and in 2015 the College Rugby Championship broke an attendance record at over 24,000 spectators, which shows how the popularity of the sport is expanding.[citation needed]

State Rugby Organizations[edit]

State Rugby Organizations are responsible for developing an administrative structure with the objective of promoting the development of youth rugby within their state. They are also responsible for day-to-day governance, including organizing league structures, collecting dues, implementing a state championship, and conducting rugby outreach. USA Rugby has 44 state rugby organizations.[45]

Hall of Fame[edit]

World Rugby Hall of Fame[edit]

The following have been inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame:

Inductee Year
1920 U.S. Olympic rugby team 2012 Won the gold medal.
1924 U.S. Olympic rugby team 2012 Won the gold medal.
Patty Jervey 2014 Played in five Women's World Cups.

U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame[edit]

The following have been inducted into the U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame:

Inductee Year
1920 U.S. Olympic rugby team 2011 Won the 1920 Olympic gold medal.
1924 U.S. Olympic rugby team 2011 Won the 1924 Olympic gold medal.
Patrick Vincent 2011 Co-founder of USA Rugby (1975). Governor of the U.S. Union (1975–1977).
Dennis Storer 2011 First head coach of the U.S. national team (1976).
Keith Seaber 2011 Served for 15 years on the U.S. Union's Board of Directors.
Managed the first Eagles team in 1976.
Miles "Doc" Hudson 2011 Head coach of the Cal Golden Bears for 36 seasons (1938–1974);
339 wins, 84 losses and 23 ties; most wins by a coach in U.S. college rugby.
Kevin Higgins 2012 Played in 28 test matches for the Eagles and was captain in three.
Played for the United States in the 1987 and 1991 Rugby World Cups.
Robinson Bordley 2012 Captained the United States in the first two tests they played in the 1970s.
Harry Langenberg 2012 Co-founded the Missouri Rugby Football Union in 1933; Secretary from 1933–1983.
Ed Lee 2012 Founding member of the USA Rugby Football Union (USA Rugby).
Colby "Babe" Slater 2012 Captain of the 1924 U.S. team than won Olympic gold.
Craig Sweeney 2012 Played in the first four tests for the United States Eagles.
Captained the team in the third and fourth tests.
Victor Hilarov 2013 Founding member and first President of U.S. Rugby Football Union (USA Rugby) in 1975.
Ray Cornbill 2013 Head coach for the USA Eagles for eight test matches during the 1970 and 1980s.
Edward Hagerty 2013 Editor in Chief of Rugby Magazine from 1977 to 2009.
Ian Nixon 2013 USARFU's 6th president from 1991–1995. Refereed several test matches.
Jon Prusmack 2013 Founded Rugby Magazine (originally known as Scrumdown) in 1968.
Purchased the USA Sevens tournament in 2005.
Created the Collegiate Rugby Championship in 2010 in partnership with NBC.
Dick Smith 2013 Founding member and Director of the U.S. Rugby Football Union (USA Rugby) in 1975.


USA Rugby oversees the coaching of the game. USA Rugby requires coaches to register and complete a certification course.

Geographical Unions[edit]

USA Rugby organizes registered rugby teams into twelve Geographical Unions. Each of these GU's are split in turn into Local Area Unions and State Based Rugby Organizations.[46]

The current Geographical Unions are:

The following states are not currently covered by a geographic union:

  • Colorado
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Utah
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming
  • In addition, Western Pennsylvania is not covered by a geographic union.

Past leaders[edit]

Elected Governance history[edit]

Election Date President Vice-President Treasurer Secretary
June 1975 Victor Hilarov Richard Moneymaker Gail Tennant Edmond Lee
June 1977 Victor Hilarov Richard Moneymaker Gail Tennant Edmond Lee
June 1979 Richard Moneymaker Fritz Grunebaum David Chambers Vacant
June 1981 David Chambers Fritz Grunebaum Joe Reagan Keith Seaber
June 1983 Robert Watkins Keith Seaber Terry Fleener Robert Jones
June 1985[47] Robert Watkins Keith Seaber Terry Fleener Tom Selfridge (resigned summer of 86, and not replaced)[48]
June 1987[49] Terry Fleener Bill McEnteer Edward Kane Dick Elliot (replaced by Ian Nixon by Dec 87[50])
June 1989 Robert Watkins W.T. Haffner Brad Sharp Ian Nixon
June 1991 Ian Nixon W.T. Haffner Bill Podewils Gene Roberts
November 1992[51] Ian Nixon Randy Stainer Anne Barry W.T. Haffner (resigned June 94; replaced by Jami Jordan)
November 1994[52] John D’Amico Randy Stainer Anne Barry Jami Jordan

In June 87, the position of Chairman of the Board was added to the Executive Committee, and Bob Watkins was named to that position.[49] Effective June 89, that position was retitled Post of Past President, and remained an appointed post until the position was dropped in 1996.

Effective January 1996, an Executive Vice President was added.

Election Date President Executive Vice-President Vice-President Treasurer Secretary
January 1996[53] Gene Roberts Tony Skillbeck Neal Brendel Anne Barry Reyn Kinzey
January 1998[54] Anne Barry Neal Brendel Tristan Lewis Barbara Fugate Pat O’Connor

Effective March 2000, the Vice President was replaced with Athlete Vice President.

Election Date President Executive Vice-President Athlete Vice-President Treasurer Secretary
March 2000[55] Anne Barry Neal Brendel Mary Dixey Fred Roedel III Pat O’Connor
March 2002[56] Neal Brendel Robert Latham Jen Crawford Fred Roedel III Pat O’Connor

Effective April 2004, the President title was replace with Chairman, and an USARRA Representative was added.

Election Date Chairman Vice Chairman Athlete Vice Chairman Treasurer Secretary USARRA Rep
April 2004[57] Neal Brendel Robert Latham Don James Fred Roedel III David Pelton Buzz McClain
March 2006[58] Robert Latham Frank Merrill Alex Magelby Thomas Schmidt David Pelton John McConnell

Effective July 14, 2006 the Governance was changed to a Model with a Board of Directors nominated and approved by a Congress.[59]

National Office[edit]

The governing body of USA Rugby opened a national office on June 3, 1988.[60] The office has been headed by:

Name Title Start Date End Date
Kirk Miles Executive Director May 2, 1988[60] December 20, 1989[61]
Roger Neppl Executive Director May 1, 1995[62] September 6, 1995[63]
Paul Montville Executive Director November 24, 1997[64] April 1999[65]
Terry Fleener Interim Director April 1999[66] June 21, 1999
Mark Rudolph Executive Director June 21, 1999[67] November 9, 2001
Dean Hahn November 9, 2001
Doug Arnot CEO December 1, 2002[68] July 14, 2006[69]
Steve Griffiths
Nigel Melville CEO and President of Rugby Operations October 11, 2006 June 30, 2016[70]
Dan Payne CEO August 1, 2016[71]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c USA Rugby, 2010 Audited Financial Statements,[Application]\\Structure\\Content\\Brand%20Resource%20Center\\Content\\Home\\20907F3F-1296-66EA-DD8E-5E2AF35B49C0\\21D94194-12C3-6D38-DF2C-6844DCDD2CBETemplate:View:EditLiveContentTemplate:Tab:View
  2. ^ USA Rugby Football Union, Consolidated Financial Statements, December 31, 2010
  3. ^ USA Rugby, 2010-2011 Membership Data,
  4. ^ USA Rugby by the numbers Archived April 25, 2014, at the Wayback Machine., Retrieved April 24, 2014.
  5. ^ "USA Rugby Corporate Structure and Ownership". 
  6. ^ "The Rugby Channel". 
  7. ^ Universal Sports, USA Rugby named Olympic Sport member of USOC, September 27, 2010,
  8. ^ IRB Awards, Thierry Dusautoir IRB Player of the Year, October 24, 2011, "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 1, 2012. Retrieved August 10, 2012. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ USA Rugby, Governance,
  11. ^ "Kevin Roberts – Personally Speaking Bureau". Retrieved 10 February 2017. 
  12. ^ USA Rugby, Governance,
  13. ^ USA Rugby, Men's National Teams,
  14. ^ International Rugby Board
  15. ^, IRB vote propels american to top committee, December 14, 2011,
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 11, 2012. Retrieved October 4, 2010. 
  17. ^ "US Rugby 2012 Form 990" (PDF). 
  18. ^ "CASH SHORTFALL COULD CAUSE EAGLES TO FALL BEHIND", Rugby Today, Pat Clifton, January 20, 2017.
  19. ^ USA Rugby Financial Statements,
  20. ^ Template:Https://
  21. ^
  22. ^ "USA Rugby 2015 Audited Financial Statements" (PDF). 
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^ "USA Rugby 2014 Audited Financial Statements" (PDF). 
  26. ^ "Welsh Rugby 2014 Annual Report" (PDF). 
  27. ^ Scottish Rugby, 2014 Annual Report
  28. ^ "USA Rugby 2013 Audited Financial Statements" (PDF). 
  29. ^ "USA Rugby 2012 Audited Financial Statements" (PDF). 
  30. ^ a b Scottish Rugby Annual Report 2011/12.
  31. ^ "USA Rugby 2011 Financial Statements" (PDF). 
  32. ^ Scottish Rugby 2011 Annual Report
  33. ^
  34. ^ Scottish Rugby, 2009-10 Annual Report
  35. ^ "USA Rugby 2009 Financial Statements" (PDF). 
  36. ^ "USA Rugby 2008 Financial Statements" (PDF). 
  37. ^ "USA Rugby 2007 Financial Statements" (PDF). 
  38. ^ "USA Rugby 2006 and 2007 Financial Statements" (PDF). 
  39. ^ USA Rugby, 2014 Financial Statements. Accessed October 18, 2015.
  40. ^ "USA to launch six-team rugby union competition in 2016", Fox Sports, November 9, 2015.
  41. ^ U.S. Rugby Super League, About RSL,
  42. ^ U.S. Rugby Super League, History,
  43. ^ "Club Competitions". 
  44. ^, PPL Park to host rugby college championships, November 10, 2010,
  45. ^ "State Rugby Organizations". 
  46. ^ "USA Club Rugby: Geographical Unions". Retrieved 2014-03-04.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  47. ^ Rugby Magazine Vol 12; No. July 5, 1986
  48. ^ Rugby Magazine Vol 13, No. March 2, 1987 and March 87 issue of The Eagle (USARFU publication)
  49. ^ a b Rugby Magazine Vol 13; No July 5/August 1986
  50. ^ December 87 issue of The Eagle (USARFU publication)
  51. ^ November 92 AGM Rugby Magazine Vol 18, No. 11; 21 Dec 92
  52. ^ AGM 11 – 13 Nov 94; Colorado Springs, CO as reported in Rugby Magazine Vol 20, No 11; 19 Dec 94
  53. ^ AGM 6 Jan 96 in Atlanta GA as reported in Rugby Magazine Vol 22, No. 1; Feb 96
  54. ^ 17 Jan 88 AGM at Atlanta, GA as reported in Rugby Magazine Vol. 24 No. 1; 30 Jan 98
  55. ^ March 3–5, 2000 Board meeting reported by Rugby Magazine Vol. 26. No.4; April 28, 2000
  56. ^ USA Rugby Official Minutes from March 1–2, 2002 AGM at New Orleans, LA
  57. ^ USA Rugby Official Minutes from April 2–3, 2004 meeting in Philadelphia, PA
  58. ^ USA Rugby Official Minutes from March 3–4 April 2–3, 2006 meeting in
  59. ^ Official Minutes USA Rugby Board Meeting July 14, 2006
  60. ^ a b Rugby Magazine Vol 14; No. 4 April 88
  61. ^ Rugby magazine Vol 16. No. 1; 22 Jan 90
  62. ^ Rugby Union Magazine Vol 3 no. 3; July/Aug 95
  63. ^ Rugby Magazine Vol. 21 no. 8; 18 Sep 95
  64. ^ USA Rugby Touchline - Vol 6, Iss 1 Spring 98
  65. ^ USA Rugby Touchline - Vol 7, Iss 3, Spring 99
  66. ^ Rugby Magazine Vol. 25, No. 3; 15 April 99
  67. ^ Rugby magazine Vol. 25; No. 6; 17 July 99
  68. ^ Rugby Magazine - Vol 28, No. 11; December 2002
  69. ^ Red Terror, Doug Arnot to Step Down as CEO of USA Rugby, April 16, 2006,
  70. ^ "Nigel Melville to Step Down as CEO of USA Rugby, Rugby International Marketing". 
  71. ^ "USA Rugby Selects Dan Payne to Become New Chief Executive Officer". 

External links[edit]