by Nigel Melville
Nigel Melville Direct
It's been a long road, but this week we are finally in a position to announce officially that a USA Rugby partnership with the USOC will commence its first residency program commencing January, 2012. This will involve the placement of 15 men and 8 women into a fulltime residency program at the Olympic Training Centre, Chula Vista, San Diego.
This will be a giant step forward for our National Men's and Women's Sevens programs, and an opportunity to create increasingly competitive international teams. Currently the Men's Sevens team is the only core team not to operate on a full time basis. As a result, we have certainly hit a ceiling in terms of taking the next steps forward and moving up the world rankings.
During the last 12 months I have generated a mass of data on the teams, their performances and how they stack up against the top teams in the World. The findings were not exactly rocket science, the top teams use less players, train together on a daily basis, and develop a greater understanding of each other's play, and create consistency. On the other hand, we use too many players (due to availability), don't train together on a daily basis, and never get chance to develop the kind of understanding and consistency that other teams achieve.
For the women, its is a weakness in their program that they only play in a small number of events each year. In 2012 we will be increasing this number and participating as a core member on a new women's sevens series, the IRB Women's Sevens Challenge Cup. Having a full time residency program will certainly help the team develop. We have great athletes, it's just a matter of getting them together and training on a regular basis.
The ext step is to agree which players will be offered places and work on the logistics of placing players at the OTC. Of course, this won't be for everyone, and it will be the first time most of our players will experience a full time professional training environment. Fortunately, having gone through this process before with players when the game went professional in 1995, I understand the challenges!
Yes, a bronze medal at this year Pan Am games was a gentle re-introduction to the Olympic multi-sport environment, but we have a long way to go to make Gold a reality in 2016. This program of support from the USOC is a welcome and positive start.
In the meantime, both Men's and Women's Eagle Sevens teams have arrived and are training in Dubai ahead of this weekend's Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens, I am looking forward to watching them in action, Go Eagles!
More to come...
In 2012 the momentum created in Jim Snyder's Rugby Development Department will continue to gather pace, our membership benefits will increase once again, and the new USA Rugby Charitable Foundation under the Chairmanship of David Simmons will start to have an impact across all our programs.
USA Rugby Vice Chairman, Bob Latham will represent the North America Caribbean Rugby Association on the IRB Council.
We will appoint a new Men's Eagles Fifteens Coach to continue the excellent work of Eddie O'Sullivan. I will be working closely with all our national coaches and pathway teams, both sevens and fifteens and selected High performance competitions.
One focus in 2012 will be to remain on the NCAA Emerging Sports list, create more women's varsity college programs and move women's college rugby closer to NCAA status than at any time in the past.
Its been a pretty big year for rugby in the USA, but 2012 will take us forward once again. Thanks to everyone for their support as we grow the game and become more competitive as a rugby nation. It is the support of the coaches, referees, administrators, sponsors, parents, media, players and fans of the game that enables us to make the progress we are making.
We all know the power of teams, and this is a massive team effort. It's a pleasure to serve you.
With an impressive resume as player, coach and administrator, Nigel David Melville took over as CEO and President of Rugby Operations of USA Rugby, the National Governing Body of the sport in America, in 2006. In addition to his full time job promoting the sport in the U.S., Melville has launched his own blog, Nigel Melville Direct, to further the discussion and his passion for what it will take to make the U.S. a great rugby playing nation.
CLICK HERE to read more on Nigel Melville
Gilbert has released a new line of rugby cleats. The Gilbert Virtuo 8S is part of the exciting new product. Check it out.
The entire All Blacks apparel line has been updated for 2013/14. Check out the New Zealand All Blacks polo.
The Nike Tiempo is a solid rugby cleat and one of few styles still made from full-grain natural leather.
The Gilbert Blitz 8S rugby cleat is a great cleat at a great price of $69.99. Get a new pair of cleats today.
A cool looking all black rugby cleat with the high performance adidas is known for. Get in the Gear!
Wear the crest of the British and Irish Lions on your t-shirt. A great look for the summer.
The All Blacks Performance t-shirt is black with hints of blue from the training jersey. Very Cool.
The New Zealand All Blacks training jersey for 2013/14. Get in the Gear!
The USA Rugby Pro Alternate rugby jersey is perfect for any fan of the Eagles. Get yours to wear during the summer Test matches.
The NEW All Blacks 2013/14 jersey has arrived at World Rugby Shop. Dare to wear the colors of the All Blacks.