USA Rugby CEO Nigel Melville Answers Our Questions

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Nigel_Melville Matt_McCarthy Rugby_Wrap_Up2

RWU’s Matt McCarthy & Nigel Melville

NEW YORK, NY – Following Team USA’s loss to Canada, we were able to speak with USA Rugby CEO Nigel Melville briefly on the phone. Here is the printed version of the call:

RWU: Nigel, thanks for taking the time to speak with us.
NIGEL: No problem, its been a tough summer for our fans and they need to know we are dealing with the challenges before us to turn the Eagles in to a winning team. We all appreciate their support and understand that means winning!

usa-v-canadaRWU: Saturday’s loss to Canada, despite the narrowest of margins (13-11), has some USA fans angry, frustrated and calling for changes. Will there be changes forthcoming?
NIGEL: Well, a loss is a loss, whether you’ve lost by 50 or by 5. The team played considerably better in Toronto than they did in Charleston, but international rugby is about winning games. The Coach [Mike Tolkin]will now review the performances of the team through June and August and provide the Board with a report that will include the coach’s perspective on the next steps for the squad.

mike-tolkin

Tolkin

RWU: And what of the coaching staff? Some are calling for a skills and handling coach.
NIGEL: The coaching and Management of the team is the responsibility of the coach, if he [Tolkin] wants to add new staff to his back-room team he can, if he wants to make changes, that’s his call.

RWU: Are these coaches paid?
NIGEL: Yes, but they are not all full time. With a maximum of 9 or 10 games a year they will want to coach more regularly than that; for example Dan Payne is the forwards coach but also coaches at Life.

RWU: But they aren’t full-time, right? These coaches have day jobs while for other nations these coaches mostly have paid positions on pro rugby staffs, correct?
NIGEL: Yes, that’s correct. But not all countries have their staffs working for pro teams.

Nigel_Melville Matt_McCarthy Rugby_Wrap_UpRWU: Well, let’s compare the Canadian program, then. What is it that they are doing so well that has them 38-13 since 1977 against Team USA? Is it their coaching or version of a Super League with their Provincial Rugby – which we’ve recently disbanded – that makes for the advantage?
NIGEL: Well, that’s not really the case in regards to their Super League, many of their players play in Europe like ours and one interesting point that has been missed by many is that they use their sevens squad to play for the fifteens team more than we do. Sevens players are full time, very skillful and available. Mike [Tolkin] brought in Falou Niua and I thought he played well. There are others available, but the coach picks the team – it’s his call.

RWU: Is the reason we don’t utilize our 7s players more a function of the USOC (U.S. Olympic Committee) contracts for the 7s players? Are they restricted?
NIGEL: No. The selection of the side is up to the Head Coach and his staff.

RWU: So a Carlin Isles, for instance, is eligible if chosen?
NIGEL: Yes.

RWU: Okay… Now we know that you have to get off the phone so we’ll wrap this up: What is/are the next step or steps for the Men’s 15s squad?
NIGEL: We will review the program with the coach, the coach will take a side to the America’s Rugby Championship in October, a chance to see and work with potential new squad players. The Eagles will then play the Maori All Blacks in November followed by two games in Europe against Georgia and Russia. The World Cup Qualifiers will be in April against Uruguay (dates and venues to be confirmed).

usa_rugby_logoRWU: And the Maori could be the toughest team you’ve played outside of the Rugby World Cup since 2011.
NIGEL: Yes, there are no easy international games these days and the Maori will be no exception.

RWU: That is a tough road, indeed… We appreciate your time and we’ll see you in November in Philadelphia. Go Eagles.
NIGEL: Thank you… I understand the frustration of the fans, but I can assure you we are working hard to turn the Eagles into a winning team. That may require a few changes here and there, but the nucleus of the squad has huge potential. They are great athletes and committed to the game and the Eagles.

Please free to comment below, look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter @RugbyWrapUp, @JunoirBlaber, @Declan Yeats, @NickAvaHall, @CKuxmann and @Ebstide52, respectively.

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About the Author ()

RWU Co-host Johnathan Wicklow Barberie is the contrived Kiwi rugby personality who can't go ANYWHERE without being asked for an autograph. He always obliges... Matt McCarthy handles the more serious interviews and handles the RWU Sports Desk.
  • Junoir Blaber

    Nigel sounds as unhappy about the loss as the rest of us.

    • Grant A Cole

      I do not agree, JB. His words seem guarded and are not indicative of the unhappiness about 0-7 that I am experiencing

      • Junoir Blaber

        Well of course they are guarded but they seen to indicate that Melville would definitely go about things differently than Tolkin.

  • Jamie Loyd

    Im sorry US fans, but you have more and more top professional players (Clever, LaValla, Wyles) to name a few! I would argue you have more than Canada, so frankly something needs to be done. The fact that at all levels Eagles teams (e.g U20′s) are being walloped is a very bad sign. Either have more training camps with wider training squads or allow the coaches to have several meetings/periods of time to meet and discuss tactics/attacking options etc. Preparation is key!

    • Junoir Blaber

      There does seem to be severe structural issues at play.

      • Grant A Cole

        Tolks has the coaching staff he can afford and who will work part-time for so little. I cannot fault a part-time coaching staff. The Eagles have been building to an 0-7 season for 6 years now. The support structure for an Eagles coach to win consistently is non-existent.

    • http://rugbywrapup.com/ RugbyWrapUp

      Okay… You named 3 professional players and there are more, but Manoa’s heart and rent money lie in Northampton. We will see him sparingly at best… LaValla is just beginning to emerge as Clever has to start thinking about life after professional rugby – not yet, but soon enough… Ngwenya has not had the impact that many feel he should have – but this team is not Biarritz. He’s not surrounded by pros… Fry finally looks okay but how much PT will he get with the London Scottish this year? Suniula may have a job with CS Vienne and Stanfill is playing in Italy. These pro deals are great but by no means do they translate into automatic wins… Check out RugbyCanada.ca and you’ll see that 16 players – ecluding their 7s players – have pro contracts overseas. 16.

      • http://meetthematts.com/ Meet The Matts

        We need professional rugby!

  • steve

    Pommie prick did not take ownership at all, fire his sorry ass!

    • Grant A Cole

      If only it were that easy…

    • Different Matt

      He did seem to throw Tolkin under the bus with the staff and 7s.

  • Charles DeVerna

    good interview Dick..almost as good as JWB…where is he , on vacation ?

  • Charles DeVerna

    sorry Matt… though it was “Dick” McCarthy…thats what Truehart called you

    • Lord Rugby

      Seems to me that you and your man are the knobs, mate.

      • Charles DeVerna

        Your Lordship..he is my mate. They do a great job…a little chop busting is part of it…he introduced my date to everyone as the “future Mrs DeVerna” on our 3rd date… the SOB was right !

      • http://rugbywrapup.com/ RugbyWrapUp

        We’re sure it was an honest mistake. Sticks and stones…

  • Waddles

    How many coaching changes do there have to be before the “Board” figures out that something else needs to be done? Sure, there are more pro players now – but Ireland was missing 10 when they came to Houston. TEN!

  • TomClayman

    Looks like Nigel is ready to throw Tolkin under the bus. Couldn’t happen soon enough.

    • http://rugbywrapup.com/ RugbyWrapUp

      Okay… We’ve been reading your replies in different places and wonder what it is that you expect to be done. If you were CEO, what would you do? How about a 5-point plan? Who knows, maybe some will get implemented.

      • Delan Yeats

        Yeah… Let’s hear it. That head of yours is big enough to have something in it.

        • Different Matt

          Looks like he fizzled out in the first 5 mins!

    • Charles DeVerna

      if he does , he might as well throw the entire 15′s program out as no one will play for them or support them. Mike has won at every level where he has had full support of a good organization. USA Rugby should look from within their admin for solutions to their problems…and not blame coaches. And if anyone notices, the top tiers of rugby have full paying staff, players, and competition and do not travel 1,000′s of miles or take time off from their jobs to go to limited windows of training. We are the minor leagues boys, especially minor league budget.

    • Torrie6

      Problem is that Nigel is driving the bus. Any coach will get run over.

  • Preacher Collins

    Now that’s fast JWB. Almost as fast as Miley stripping at the MTV Video Music Awards…

    • http://rugbywrapup.com/ RugbyWrapUp

      We try…

  • All Blacks Rule

    They are going to lose badly to the Maori All Blacks, mate. Badly.

  • Jamie loyd

    Mr DeVerna, spot on! EITHER have a permanent High Performance director to take pressure off the coach, so he can simply COACH. OR have a PERMANENT attack and defence coach, who can build the structure they want their players to play throughout the entire year before the internationals happen, thus meaning there is a clearly defined style for the Eagles to play within.

  • oldhooker2

    Melville has to go.

  • TomClayman

    USA Rugby is a governing body, and being so it is a place of debate, compromise and lastly execution. This is the nature of the beast and the IRB and every union below it has the same political and execution problems as they try to be all things for all their constituents. Is USA Rugby the worst union in the world, not by a long shot. Is it the best? Not the best either.

    Only Japan has the holy trinity of large player pool, professional domestic competition and adequate funding. I think what is keeping them back is being a diminutive race, but that is changing and they have the right coach. Let’s take them out of the equation for the moment.

    USA Rugby is the only tier 2 nation with a player pool comparable to many tier 1 nations. None of the tier 2 nations have adequate funding. Pacific Island nations are flat broke. Most the tier 2 nations get some government funding, but it is not in an amount that is a game changer. I don’t think USA Rugby gets a dime from local, state or federal governments. USA, Canada, Russia and the Pacific Island unions have geography issues (Pacific Island unions have players all over the world).

    The biggest thing that USA Rugby controls is the hiring of the head coach. Now, I don’t know what Tolkin presented to get the job, but based on what I have seen he has no clue. He built a team around Clever and Petri. If you don’t think so, watch the IRB Total Rugby piece prior to the first RWC Qualifier where it is all Clever and Petri talking about going back to the RWC in 2015. Even shows the team running unopposed with Petri box kicking. The face of the team and the style of play was built around these two guys who are getting past their prime and weren’t exactly world beaters in their prime. Furthermore, Tolkin surrounded himself with “yes men” coaches that he has known for years.

    What Tolkin should have done.

    1) Clean break from the Eddie O’Sullivan era by not retaining Clever as Captain and making it clear that all spots are up for grabs.

    2) Surround himself with innovative coaches with new ideas that can inspire, coach and establish an American style of rugby executed by players that are best suited to for that style.

    3) Get the culture right within the player pool by making sure every player knows where they stand and how they can earn the jersey. This includes letting the pros know they have to be available and bleed red, white and blue.

    4) Evaluate talent early and bring them in early and often knowing that if the culture is right the squad will be able to handle some dips because of selection.

    5) Don’t settle for excuses from your staff or the players regarding preparation and commitment. Fail and you’re gone.

    • Drew Stymiest

      Completely agree, to me the biggest difference that separates Canada and the USA right now is coaching and professionalism. USARugby talks a big game but when push comes to shove the Canadian setup is far more professional. We have a World Cup winning Ex-All Black who has coached professionally in New Zealand, been a selector for the All Blacks and also coached a world championship winning side at the age-grade level. On top of this we also pay and bring in top notch specialist coaches like Clive Griffiths, Mike Shelley and Geraint John who all have experience coaching at the professional level.

      USARugby meanwhile brings in a coach whose experience is coaching High School rugby in the States and the NYAC, a little out of his depth here? I think so.

      I also think Superleague is a poor development model for the US. The CRC in Canada is far better and it has received by in from all our provincial unions and provides a very good model for player development and making sure our best players receive a higher level of competition.

      We could also talk about things Rugby Canada has done in terms of developing a focus on high performance, especially with the development of our national academy in Langford, BC where our players are paid and housed to train full-time year round and our smaller regional academies which act as development tools for our CRC teams and also as a way to further id talent.

      I think the way foreward for USA Rugby is to professionalize the Eagles coaching setup and also look at creating a regional rugby tournament similar to Canada’s CRC. I think you could combine the two leagues eventually and create a fairly solid professional league.

      • TomClayman

        The real difference between Canada and the USA is that Canada has better clubs. I remember touring in BC 20 something years ago and James Bay had a club house, a weight room complete with a board with targets for individual players a dedicated pitch, etc. I’m sure that has all be improved since that time, yet in the USA we are only just now seeing elite clubs own a pitch, club house and strength and conditioning facilities.

        The leaders within USA Rugby are not the best, but clubs and supporters need to look in the mirror. If your club is 40 or 50 years old and you’re still playing in a park or middle school with no S&C facilities or coaches, your club is part of the problem.

        • Drew Stymiest

          I can also agree with this statement, the clubs in BC are in a league of their own but many Ontario clubs also have a very professional setup. Balmy Beach, for instance, has a great club setup with their own club house, conference facilities, fitness center, etc… In fact many clubs within Canada have this sort of setup so this could be a contributing factor.

          I also think our university rugby is better, especially in BC and Ontario. Schools in Ontario and BC are all full varsity and with the exception of maybe Cal and BYU Our top schools like UBC, UVic, Queens, Western, McMaster, Brock, Laurier, Waterloo would all lay a hammering on most American Universities. I remember a few years ago Army and Air Force came to Kingston to play RMC and Queens and while the American teams beat RMC, Queens put 50 points up on them.

          I think American schools are going to get better but right now a lot of rugby clubs at American universities seem to be no more then glorified drinking clubs, at least that was my impression after a few tours down to play some American teams.

          • Ardent Supporter

            I just saw these but have to go to work. Will read and respond when I get there!

          • Marcus Welby MD

            Your colleges don’t have American Football, baseball and basketball to compete with for athletes the way we do in the States. It’s a Catch-22, making the game more attractive to students. But it’s not sanctioned by the NCAA, so that is a killer.

          • http://rugbywrapup.com/ RugbyWrapUp

            Valid point.

          • David John Conyers

            Australia has AFL, Rugby league and soccer to compete with they are still #2, junior emphasis, back to territory or provincial system and real justification for selection.

          • Ranger Bob

            The lure/dollars of the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL dwarf that of the AFL, soccer and RL, mate. And the inhabitable parts of Australia are a as big as 4 of the 50 states. It’s an enormous region to cover without pro rugby in place.

        • City Boy

          I play in NYC for the NYRC. There is no way of owning your own facilities unless you:
          1) Have a billionaire donor/alumni
          2) Move out of the city like NYAC

          • http://rugbywrapup.com/ RugbyWrapUp

            The NYRC needs to buy a brownstone or small building with a bar in it. That’s the only real answer there. The pitches on Randall’s Island and the training facility at Pier 40 are solid.

        • Ryan

          Most clubs have no money to afford these things. PAC for example is the best club in D.C. and when they were in the RSL played on a disgrace of a pitch that had roads on either side and was next to the Washington Monument and the Holocaust Museum. Good location, terrible field. But where inside D.C. do you expect them to buy land for a decent price and put up a clubhouse? Do you know what the real estate market is like? For them to have a dedicated pitch and clubhouse requires them to be located 50 miles outside the city. D.C. United, a soccer team with far more resources and political connections than an amateur rugby club, has been unable to get a stadium built for them in D.C. or the suburbs for 10 years of trying. And there are very few clubs in the United States that are 40 or 50 years old. On the east coast the number of clubs 50 years old I don’t think hits single digits. Washington RFC is one of the oldest clubs you’ll find and they were founded in 1963.

          Not to mention that clubhouses themselves are more social venues that aid nothing in development of play. They’re more things for old boys for them to have a drink. After the game, most rugby players want to be downtown having a beer so they can hit on women. The only use I have for a clubhouse after I practice or play is a place to take a shower. The reason the Eagles lost to Canada this past weekend has nothing to deal with that.

          A more realistic option is groundsharing with existing fields that are well-maintained, like cooperation with high schools or whatever.

          • Ryan

            Excuse me, meant “double digits” for number of clubs 50 years or older.

          • TomClayman

            I gave you the courtesy to read your reply, but not sure why your list of excuses is relevant. You missed the point of my post. USA clubs have a priority on recreation and fun and not performance. Therefore, they are part of the problem when discussing the performance of the Eagles, or the ability for USA Rugby to have a High Performance strategy.

          • Ryan

            “USA clubs have a priority on recreation and fun and not performance.”

            Because they’re amateurs, not professionals. I’m sorry if you think because I was not born a good athlete I shouldn’t be allowed to play a sport recreationally, but thankfully you don’t tell me or the clubs I play for what to do.

            If you want High Performance rugby in this country, get out your pocketbook and start writing checks. I’m not kidding either. You, Tom Clayman, write checks, risk your money. That is what is needed from you and a bunch of other people to do it. When you write the checks, people become professional, they answer to you, and they are getting paid based on their performance or lack thereof. And there’s no shortage of snake oil salesmen at the moment looking for pro league investors. And if you say you don’t have the money, neither does anyone else that wants to invest in rugby, that’s the problem. https://www.google.com/#q=tom+clayman+rugby&start=0

          • TomClayman

            I guess you have enough recreation time to stalk me. Classy.

          • Ryan

            “I gave you the courtesy to read your reply, but not sure why your list of excuses is relevant.”
            They’re not excuses. They’re facts.

          • TomClayman

            They’re obstacles used as excuses.

          • Ryan

            Facts. You can get out your checkbook, and for your local club, remove those obstacles. Because for those obstacles to be removed, requires people like you to fork up money. The clubs are products of the members, so what club are you a member of? And if you’re not one, why do you think your opinion matters on club rugby when you have zero skin in the game?

          • TomClayman

            I’ve volunteer coached at a college for over a decade. We have produced Eagles.

          • oldhooker2

            What club and what Eagles did you produce?

          • TomClayman

            That’s need to know info, and you don’t need to know.

          • Alan Smithee

            Bollix! Bollix! Bollix! Just answer, man!

          • TomClayman

            Why?

    • http://rugbywrapup.com/ RugbyWrapUp

      Some interesting points by both you and Mr. Stymiest… We’ll incorporate what we can in our brief phone call with Mike Tolkin this morning.

  • http://rugbywrapup.com/ RugbyWrapUp

    We’ll be speaking with Team USA Head Coach Mike Tolkin in just a few minutes. It will then be transcribed and posted.

    • http://meetthematts.com/ Meet The Matts

      Ask him if he needs old, broken-down backs.

  • Troy

    This is a great discussion, and it could go on for ever.

    If it’s possible, before we continue to blame and compare ourselves to every other national club, can we compare spread sheets.? I think all the comments so far have a lot of validity, but the solution is really in the spread sheet.

    Maybe USA Rugby and The Eagles should be two different business models.
    Maybe we should have a professional league, and maybe we should combine it with Canada.
    Maybe we should pay our national players and coaches comparable salaries and keep them together

    The spread sheet may need an injection of financial growth hormone.

    Clubs. Lets start at home.

    Why doesn’t The New York Rugby Club have a pitch, a club house etc.? What would the business plan look like for the NYRC to build another Pier 40 type field off of 14th street, just below Chelsea Piers? It’s the city, the facility would be rented out night and day. If I could write the business plan I would. But that’s better left to someone else.

    I think the WINNING national team is going to be made up of the young teens playing in Play Rugby USA and Rookie Rugby right now. How can we helping them get there?

    • kick to the box

      1) Put back Super League
      2) Shorten the season
      3) Don’t make teams play only in their GU.
      4) Show some real leadership in USAR.

    • 2up1togo

      Get rugby NCAA status and start granting full scholarships to the best rugby students from all over the world and USA rugby will be solidly in the top 8 teams in the world within ten years.

      • rugby lifer

        Canada has a much longer deeper tradition of rugby than the USA. They have fewer sports to compete with (interms of popularity). THey have a super league, force their players to move to west coast if they want to play for Canada, have clubs that are more like clubs than teams. Here in the US, we have teams, very few clubs. By that I mean who owns their own grounds? Has kiddie rugby starting at 9am and follows through the day culminating in the culbs top men’s side playing?
        As far as Tolks goes, he has been very successful at every level he has been at. In fact only a few months ago we all were clamoring about his team’s performance in Europe, now he sucks? Did he forget everything?
        How about the idea that we simply do not have and do not develop the same level of players here? Nor do we support them. How many pro rugby players do we know from USA? Getting rid of the super league (Or failing to support it) and then forcing those clubs to play D1 pushes it down further. The USA players do not have the interest in playing a lower level team on a crappy field. THey need to be challenged every week. Make the season shorter and harder so that they can earn a living int he “off season” and train and play hard in the season. Having a foot in each realm is very hard.

        • TomClayman

          Did NYAC have a hacker write a program called the “Tolkin ExcuseBot 5000″ to spam rugby boards with excuses on why Tolkin is not at fault for the horrendous play of the Eagles this summer?

          • Grant A Cole

            Clayman, when you are not bashing Tolks, et al, you are extremely erudite and agreeable in conducting a rugby discussion. Thank you for a solid five points. Good reading, that.

          • TomClayman

            I bash everyone beardy.

          • Amy2ndRow

            That’s why nobody listens to you.

          • TomClayman

            It’s called reading, not listening.

      • Mark 22

        That sounds great, is your magic wand available? ;-)

  • Paul Lynch

    An interesting interview indeed – many thanks. However I think you managed to skirt around some of the real issues! How about a follow up interview with Nigel, where you ask him if he thinks that the recent poor performances by the Mens XV’s team is simply a manifestation of an organization that has a weak (and with the resignation of the CMO even weaker) senior management team, a disengaged and faceless board of Directors, a lack-luster strategy, a poor and unsustainable financial platform, an ineffective selection process and HP program, a HQ team that is out of touch with is fee-paying members and which is rapidly becoming irrelevant in the US rugby circles.

    The time for excuses and putting up with mediocrity has passed; Let’s have a proper and open debate on the future of rugby in the USA, rather than throwing the coach under the bus. Lets do it soon before we completely squander the unique opportunity presented by RIO 2016

    • Webb Ellis Ghost

      Somebody finally nailing all the heads with one hammer! Agree with all of it.

  • Paul Lynch

    An interesting interview indeed – many thanks. However I think
    you managed to skirt around some of the real issues! How about a follow up
    interview with Nigel, where you ask him if he thinks that the recent poor
    performances by the Mens XV’s team is simply a manifestation of an organization
    that has a weak (and with the resignation of the CMO even weaker) senior
    management team, a disengaged and faceless board of Directors, a lack-luster
    strategy, a poor and unsustainable financial platform, an ineffective selection
    process and HP program, a HQ team that is out of touch with is fee-paying
    members and which is rapidly becoming irrelevant in the US rugby circles. The
    time for excuses and putting up with mediocrity has passed; Let’s have a proper
    and open debate on the future of rugby in the USA, rather than throwing the
    coach under the bus. Lets do it soon before we completely squander the unique
    opportunity presented by RIO 2016

  • Drew Stymiest

    I don’t buy that we have less sports in Canada so we are able to focus more on rugby. Rugby has Ice Hockey, Canadian Football, Soccer and then also all of your sports: MLB, NFL, Basketball to compete with so the idea that we have less sports to compete with is nonsense as our sporting markets are pretty much one and the same.

    I also don’t buy that we have a deeper tradition then the US in rugby and I would say our tradition is about the same, we may have some clubs that are older but our following of the game is not that much different. In both countries rugby was usurped for our own brand of football way back when and has only recently started making a comeback.

    I will reiterate that the biggest problem I see with US Rugby is your lack of differentiation between high performance rugby and club rugby. TomClayman makes a very good point when he says US clubs have a priority on recreation and fun and not on high performance. I am not saying this is a bad thing, my days of competitive rugby are pretty much over and I play for fun; however, I do feel that for those who are so inclined their needs to be different tiers of competitiveness for players who desire to push themselves to the next level.

    I believe this is where Canada really holds the advantage over the US, both at the age grade level and at senior level. We have our national championship festivals which are tournaments held between age-grade provincial teams. This acts as a talent identifier for the national under-20 program but also for the CRC U19 program which helps us id future CRC talent. We then have the CRC which players, after having played club rugby for the whole season, are identified and asked if they would be interested in playing for a respective CRC team. From the CRC talent id is conducted further and the most promising players are given spots on Canada “A” to play in tournaments such as the ARC or to join the 7′s program.

    Our player development pathway is fairly clear and it starts around age 16:

    Age Grade Provincial –> CRC U19 –> U20 National –> CRC –> Canada “A”/7′s –> Canada “15′s”

    Club rugby is never going to provide the competitive games we need to be able to produce players capable of playing international rugby, the standard is just not high enough. If you want to start competing internationally you need to develop a high performance system that parallels/compliments your club game to offer something to players that push themselves to the next level.

    • DonnieDanger

      I’d like to give you numbers but I’m a mental midget with the web. But I bet the number of USA kids playing baseball alone, dwarfs the number of kids playing ice hockey, football, soccer and hoops in Canada.

      • Drew Stymiest

        of course but you also have 10x the population, the most popular sport in Canada in terms of participation is Soccer by a longshot, doesn’t mean we are any good at it though because our Soccer team suffers from the same problem USA Rugby suffers from, which is a lack of clear pathway to the top. Our rugby team, with a meagre 73,000 registered players is far more successful.

        Now proportionally rugby is more popular in Canada; however, we are a far smaller country then the US and we suffer from the same sort of issues…. i.e. geography, lack of money, lack of pro setup, but we make due with what we got and find a way to make it work. You have 450,000 registered rugby players in the US which is almost as many ice hockey players as we have in Canada yet you are consistently behind the eight ball in terms of development.

        Clearly, numbers are not the issue with US rugby as you have some of the highest playing numbers in the world, but it is the way you develop those players that matters. Oh FYI we have 2.6 million Soccer players in Canada which is our most popular sport in terms of participation and our Soccer team sucks!

        • DonnieDanger

          Two things that drive me crazy but you Canadians: you’re honest and you polite. Argh!

          • Brad

            polite and honest… except for on the rugby pitch and ice rink…
            overall I feel the type of athletes that eventually fit into the top clubs and national teams in Canada have been through some very gritty, difficult, tough leagues, provincial and national. For whatever reason, in comparison to the American athletes that eventually make their national teams, the don’t seem to have the sandpaper to match-up to the Canadians, add in the lack of basic skills under test pressure, and the winning streak against the 15′s Eagles will continue for a few years.

  • Tis Himself

    The commentary here is refreshing and entertaining and so is that Isles video! Keep it up guys.

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