More PRO Rugby/USA Rugby Uncertainty. Last Head Coaches Let Go. Story and Quotes


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.

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 Instagram @RugbyWrapUp @Ronan.Nelson,  Twitter@: @RugbyWrapUp, @Junoir Blaber, @MeetTheMatts, @Luke Bienstock, @Ronan Nelson, @Brian C Cole and @Declan Yeats.

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Matt McCarthy comes to from their partner in the USA, RWU and MTM feature a stable of diverse contributors, with coverage that is both serious and with a wink. Find him on twitter: @Matt_McCarthy00
  • Big Fat Prop

    Holy *shipth! It’s over? Bummer.

    *Edited by RWU Censors!


      Looks like it. What is next?

  • Aaron

    That’s about as dead as you can get.

    • There is a heartbeat.

      • Aaron

        There’s a heartbeat until the CY is up I suppose, but we just had a cardiac tremor.

  • Will Watson

    That has all the signs of it being over and it is a shame.

    If it were to be redirected I am not convinced many professional players would sign up apart from players just trying to get that last ‘pay day’ as their careers draw to a close. I suspect younger players wouldn’t take the risk.

    If the USA got hold of rugby I am sure they would be a consistent force in the world game as the pool of players available would be vast.

    The USA 7s team is testament to that as that seems to have captured an audience. Just need to do the same for 15s!

    • That 7s tourney was great but it’s a one-off weekend. We need a league to satisfy our fix!

  • Will Watson

    A USA team in Super Rugby (As the Argentinians have done) would be interesting. Players would be going up against some of the best players in the world each week.

    That would improve the skill set and give the viewers some top class rugby to watch.

    Interest would increase and then a home grown league may be better supported

    • Andrew Hay

      That would be ideal abut I fear that the travel would be cost prohibitive. If, however, the team was based out of LA or San Francisco, it might be more manageable. I’d also like to see expansion by way of teams from Mexico, Canada (Vancouver), Fiji, Tonga, and Samoa. Ultimately, it’s going to come down to money.

      • Will Watson

        Yes it will come down to money but there is clearly some money there.

        The Argentinians are a great example of how the entry into the Rugby Championship and also Super Rugby can be a very positive step. Will be interested to see how it pans out for the Japanese though.

        Fiji and Samoa have a good few players in Super Rugby but, unfortunately, a lot now play for other international teams which has seen the demise of their own international teams so a tournament including them would be fantastic and only good for the game.

        There is so much scope in the Americas and Pacific Islands it would be great for the game to see it developed.

        I don’t know enough (anything!!) about funding but do the IRB contribute towards this kind of development?

  • Junoir Blaber

    This doesn’t bode well.

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