NEW YORK, NY – So here we are. We are witnesses to a divisive war in the American rugby community. Having witnessed the Welsh Rugby civil war a couple of years back, I just want to say: Everybody calm the [bleep] down!
It is not easy to call for calm when the mobs are baying for blood and the court of public opinion is out of control. PRO Rugby supporters are attacking USA Rugby as a national organization out to settle a grudge. Meanwhile, USA Rugby supporters are seizing on this opportunity bury an axe in PRO Rugby’s back.
I want to start by reminding everyone that all we have going on here to date – other than USA Rugby grievances filed – are Steve Lewis’ suit to be heard in a NYC court and Paul Keeler’s California Labor Board filing… Until more/bigger lawsuits happen, we all should exhale… and we may be exhaling for quite some time, as glaciers and old props move faster than litigation. It could take months – or years – for us to really see what’s transpiring.
Yet, I have heard some salacious rumors regarding PRO Rugby and USA Rugby. I can’t/won’t mention them here because they are, well… rumors. The point is there will be no angels here. This whole thing has a feel of mutually-assured destruction about it and neither party will walk away with their reputation completely intact.
My colleague Matt McCarthy has been doing his best to provide coverage to both sides – and is taking flack from both sets of detractors – for his even-handed coverage. He has provided an interviews with PRO owner Doug Schoninger, Ohio Aviators’ Assistant Coach Paul Holmes and the intriguing piece with fired San Francisco Rush Head Coach, Paul Keeler. Add to that the exclusive release of the USA Rugby Players Association letter.
The one side we haven’t gotten much out of is the USA Rugby side, whom have decided on a “no comment” stance for now. USAR detractors are harping on that but let’s all take a step back and realize a few things: PRO Rugby is owned and operated by Mr. Schoninger, so he can act as he pleases and take advice from his lawyer. USA Rugby is a national organization and as such, it has to operate differently. The Board of Directors, led by the Chairman Will Chang, have to decide on a response and the best way forward in conjunction with CEO Dan Payne. Not to mention that a huge chunk of the problem is an agreement that occurred under the previous CEO, Nigel Melville. Mr. Melville is now busy working for the Rugby Football Union in England, so it is unlikely he’ll take focus off his current job to deal with a matter related to his previous job. That’s not an easy thing to explain to ones bosses.
So, this will take a while to play out. We are just at the start. It will be a bit ugly and it will potentially drag out, but again… let’s all calm down a tad. Remember there are 3 sides to every story. Each party’s side… and the truth. While we may not readily get to the truth, we will do our best to present you with all sides.
That’s all for now, please feel free to comment below, look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter@: @RugbyWrapUp, @Junoir Blaber, @MeetTheMatts, @Luke Bienstock, @Ronan Nelson, @Brian C Cole and @Declan Yeats.
And as always, stay low and keep pumping those legs.