NEW YORK, NY – Earlier this week, PRO Rugby let go of the remaining head coaches on the payroll. Sean O’Leary of the league’s champion Denver Stampede, Ray Egan of the San Diego Breakers and Luke Gross of the Sacramento Express.
I called PRO owner Doug Schoninger for comment and asked to verify the coaches being laid-off.
“Yes… The reason being that at this point we are uncertain of our season’s timing and are awaiting a confirmation of commitment from USA Rugby. Our plan is to rehire many of the laid-off employees for the second season.”
As for the future look of the league, which is looking to enter its second season, Schoninger added this:
“Our first season was a beta season that we used to evaluate and get a full understanding of rugby in America. We are excited that our 2nd season will build on the knowledge we obtained in our first season… so we can accomplish our goal of making rugby a great commercial success in the United States.”
Other than that, Mr. Schoninger said he was not allowed to comment further for now. He did say, however, he is always available to speak with any USA Rugby Board member, member of its Congress or USA Rugby executive in public or in private. When I then asked if he’d be willing to participate in a Town Hall hosted by yours truly that included USA Rugby Board members and/or CEO Payne, Schoninger said:
“How’s tomorrow? I’ll be there.”
USA Rugby CEO Dan Payne had this to say:
“I look forward to a 2nd season as per the agreement that is in place and based on the reassurances that PRO continues to provide.”
Sacramento Coach Luke Gross was reflective:
“Regardless of what people think about PRO and the negative effects it had on rugby in the USA, it was a huge success in a lot of ways. We had near 140 professional players and coaches that it helped. Look at the ARC team that just won… They had what, 9 players in the 23-member squad for the last match? That’s big. And congrats to that squad and coaching staff.”
When I asked about why he stayed on after all that has transpired, Coach Gross had this to say,
“The three of us [Gross, Egan, O’Leary] were the last to be paid by Doug [Schoninger] and it helped us develop rugby in our local areas while still working as PRO employees. That’s a positive.”
We are waiting to hear from Coach O’Leary and Coach Egan, so please check back with us for their thoughts as this evolves.
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