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USA Rugby Chairman Will Chang and Vice Chairman Rob King Resign Effective Immediately

Photo Cred: Rugby Wrap-Up

It's hard to claim any kind of victory in this.  I've been reporting on this situation for well over eighteen months.  I got involved in the Rugby media space specifically to keep people informed with the goings on of the Union and to promote Major League Rugby.

The Chair, Will Chang was the architect of what is now Rugby International Marketing.  The idea was to model it off of Soccer United Marketing when it was previously owned in majority by US Soccer Federation.  Soccer United Marketing as it is known today started in 2002 after a sale of assets by USSF to the MLS.  At that point in time the marketing company of USSF was in violation of the Ted Stevens act and any numerous other commercial laws.  At some point, if RIM was shepherded by competent people and and the product matured USA Rugby would be at the same point of divergence that USSF was.   RIM was supposed to be the answer to all of USA Rugby's financial issues. 

However, RIM led by David Sternberg launched The Rugby Channel which brought down it's demise through a massive hemorrhage of cash.  RIM never truly "killed it" on the sponsorship and events side of the house either.  Although that segment of the business which should have been their only focus was healthy, it wasn't so healthy that it could even keep the company afloat.  As of February, Will Chang was quoted stating that RIM had $3.2MM in cash assets.  It has come to light that it was in-fact zero.  Under Pam Kosanke RIM sold off The Rugby Channel to FLO Sports for just under $7MM.  The problem with that is RIM is in debt and has other shareholders that must gain payment before USAR gets a dime. RIM was never shepherded by competent people that knew the Rugby space though.

RIM is truly only a few squares on the Rubik's cube of the problem though.  Through the entirety of the Melville regime and under the Chairmanships of Roberts, Latham, and Chang USA Rugby did not have Strategic and Commercial plans to operate from that would allow the Union to grow both membership and revenues.  The two main duties of the USAR Board are oversight of the CEO as he governs the sport and Strategic Planning.  When compared to other Unions, we're looking to just get the ball of out the ruck and everyone we want to be is in Action cycles for multiple World Cup bids. 

Will Chang's seminal contribution to the Union has been a 7s Rugby World Cup.  In 2013 the 7s World Cup in Moscow was a colossal failure commercially, with the addition of the Sevens code to the Olympics World Rugby was exploring ways of scuttling the idea of a 7s Rugby World Cup.  In the midst of those discussions USA Rugby under Nigel Melville surged to host an event that had been a commercial failure recently.  Never mind that the competition is being held at AT&T Park, the SF Giants controlled stadium.  So in the end Will Chang probably still gets his slice of the pie.

Rob King has been the Vice Chair of USA Rugby under Chang.  Previous to that he served as the Audit Committee Chair.  When you read the board minutes he clearly projects multiple surpluses in consecutive years and yet the Union remained hanging by a thread.  So that's why he left.  These two resignations come after the resignation of Dean Barrett and the forced resignation of Chad Keck whom had also served as the Chair of RIM.

The USA Rugby Football Union is currently staring down the barrel of a bail out from World Rugby that is currently in the tune of $10MM and it could only grow.

Yours in Rugby.

~Aaron Castro