NOTE: Steve Lewis, who essentially penned this piece, asked for his name to be removed after an editorial decision.
NEW YORK, NY – In a suit filed Tuesday in New York, United World Sports allege a comprehensive scheme of fraud and conspiracy against its commercial partner USA Rugby, in conjunction with, and at the behest of World Rugby.
The dispute is over what UWS alleges is World Rugby’s attempt to invalidate UWS’ assignment agreement with USA Rugby and wrest back control of the Las Vegas based American leg of the HSBC World Sevens Series. Citing a series of “misrepresentations and fraudulent promises,” UWS claim they have invested $11 million developing the Vegas event only to have it snatched from them, now it is turning a profit, and as the rights to a new 4-year competition cycle are awarded.
For USA Rugby, this represents further legal jeopardy as it is also still being sued by PRO Rugby’s Doug Schoninger. The similarities between the suits are striking, both originating in the disastrous Melville/Chang era and both painting USA Rugby and its executives, former and current, as willing pawns of global rugby’s governing body in a barely disguised effort to defraud private actors, Jon Prusmack and Doug Schoninger, who have invested significant private capital in the sport; Prusmack’s long-term and passionate commitment to the game and the controversial Schoninger’s short-term approach notwithstanding.
While USA national teams continue to perform well on the international stage , the Union itself has been inept in terms of governance and fiscal performance, evidenced by the massive losses caused by the RIM disaster during the San Francisco World Cup 7’s, and the subsequent near-bankruptcy and bail out by World Rugby.
The Vegas 7’s are American rugby’s favorite weekend and the news of its potential demise was not well-received by the rugby community. With this lawsuit, the details behind the unusual arrangement between UWS and USA Rugby are revealed, including the $2.95 million USA Rugby has received since its inception, and the current valuation of $40 million which UWS places on the event. The sorry saga ensures yet further black eyes for the sport in this country, just as the Eagles Mens and Women sevens are genuine contenders and Major League Rugby is beginning to flourish in its second season. While this lawsuit will ultimately be decided in the courts by legal professionals, the court of public opinion in this country, rightfully appreciative of all the late Jon Prusmack has done for rugby in these parts, is very much in the corner of United World Sports.
Further updates will be forthcoming.
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