USA National Rugby Team

Off the Field, the US Stays on the Job

(Berkeley, California) 24 June 1997 -- Overcoming a poor start in the 1997 Canterbury Pacific Rim Rugby Championship, the US has rebounded with three consecutive wins and now pulled into second place. An important reason for that turnaround is hard work, and off the field, the US National Team has kept to the same standard.

Because the two-year-old Pacific Rim is a very young international competition, each of the four members (Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, and the US) have put a lot of effort into cultivating the home-and-home series as a vehicle for competitive development and also commerical growth. Meeting last week in Vancouver, Canada, the Pacific Rim's Board conducted a midyear assessment of its progress, and concluded things are going well.

Among the highlights:

Indeed, along with the development of players and of rugby as a commercial property, the Pacific Rim has provided for and funded the development of the region's top referees.

Plans are already in the works for the 1998 season, and a schedule should be available by the next Pacific Rim Board meeting in September in Tokyo. "We're all very pleased with the Pacific Rim's progress," noted the USA's Pacific Rim Board member and past USA Rugby president, Terry Fleener, "and we're looking forward to continuing on in the years ahead."

On the home front, diligent efforts by the US National Team in conjunction with officials from the Cape Fear 7s tournament last month saved the opening leg of Wales' July visit to the United States. Especially because of the holiday weekend, rebooking flights and accommodations for the July 1 game against the South in Charlotte and the July 5 test in Wilmington wasn't easy, but now everything's back in place. The Welsh arrive in Charlotte on June 25, and the US reaches Wilmington on June 30.

Also of note, the US National Team's three-year agreement with Reebok has expired. The Boston, Massachusetts, concern forwarded several renewal proposals prior to the National Team's deciding to explore other options.

The agreement began in 1994, when the US had no regularly scheduled games (such as the Pacific Rim) and no television agreement, and ran till 1997, by which time the US was averaging almost 10 games yearly, with most matches televised. "For the most part, our relationship with Reebok was positive," General Manager Jack Clark commented. "But we're now certain that our best interests lay elsewhere."