Wednesday's Ruck & Maul
PRORugby - The Future?
We continue episode two with Ray and Jake.
CW: A real global strength in North America is women’s rugby. Recently we heard of the women’s game going pro in England. How do you see the two genders being mutually supportive and bringing this lesser known sport to the forefront of American and Canadian fans?
“There is a U.S. buzz about rugby as evident with our games and the final between Ohio and Denver with 3,000 plus at a game of quality rugby.” “Mutually supportive growth is an issue in Canada. The whole deal relates to funding. Being on the podium is a Federal funding priority. This makes things tough for XV’s, both men and women not being recognised for their ‘international role and achievements’. In Canada there is pretty good mutual support by the players but sometimes egos and agendas of executives appear to cloud the waters.” At this point, the topic being so thought provoking, we went off the record and listened to a host of points off view, supported by possible solutions. Although we got off question, this was some of the most interesting dialogue!
Winding down, we asked; “How strong is the infrastructure and is Doug Schoninger a ‘hands on’ guy?”
“Doug Schoninger is an entrepreneur and a business guy. Although he is passionate, there is also a business mind at play. Some of this season’s issues will surely be addressed. Issues such as team management, budgets, communication and media, competent and knowledgeable coaching and a better understanding of the team’s needs and the league’s shortcomings. This season it seemed like the efforts to get the league going surpassed specific contract and player’s needs. However, as with all pro leagues, player power will raise its head in time. This season’s social media marketing was inadequate. If the ultimate goal might be to sell franchises, then TV deals, sponsorship and marketing will be critical. Most of the day by day stuff seems to be handled out of N.Y. by Doug’s Director of Ops, Scot, Stephen Lewis. This needs to be delegated to meet local needs. However, in summation the league seems to be a “go” and has definite potential to develop.”
CW: So will there be growth? “I have heard word of an additional 3 - 5 teams – Vancouver, Toronto and Eastern seaboard, nothing definite. CW: Surely this will multiply and exacerbate some of the challenges you have mentioned? Just how deep are the guy’s pockets? “Short answer, deep enough! But you do allude to concerns. For me, the positive growth and being at the ‘ground-level’ still overrides the shortcomings. I sure would like to play in Canada, nothing against my U.S. mates! I do have a lot of faith about the issues mentioned being resolved.”
CW: Thanks for your time, men and these most insightful reflections. Best of luck to you both, going forward.
(Ed. – Pretty articulate and thoughtful answers from a pair of the Piano Movers Fraternity!)