by Nigel Melville
Nigel Melville Direct
The recent announcement that USA Rugby have been awarded support for our athletes via an off site residency program at the Olympic Training Centre in San Diego by the USOC, was in my opinion, a reason to celebrate, but instead sparked a row about gender equity. The fact that 15 men and 8 women would be placed into the residency program made the headlines, and viewed seen by some as unfair, however, the men have a 10 tournament season, the women have just 5 in 2012. The women will also receive additional funding to enable them to pay for their flights and accommodation at an increasing number of events. The men's flights and accommodation are subsidized by their hosts. The men and the women will share facilities, share high performance staff and support services, all players are offered the same USOC support, this is a massive step forward for both programs and I know the players, the coaches and staff are very excited about this development.
Of course, the gender equity argument is nothing new in sport, I understand the importance of providing programs for both men and women, however, I am also passionate about diversity, 'Rugby For All, and I believe that rugby should be at the forefront of providing opportunities for everyone. I have also spoken to former England international Ben Cohen who's 'Stand Up' campaign has had some wonderful results combatting school bullying.
Diversity is also an area of concern for the USOC who have recently carried out a diversity study of their own. Denise Parker, CEO of USA Archery Chaired the group, she is a colleague of mine on the Olympic Sport Leadership Course this last year, and has done a fantastic job. The report has yet to be made public but discussions with Denise have certainly helped me frame a study we are currently working on at USA Rugby.
Earlier in the year we created a Diversity Group that included a cross section of the rugby community including representatives from the men and women's game, the Wheelchair Rugby Association and the International Gay Rugby Association and Board. Together we created the 'Spirit of the Game' document and our own 'Diversity Statement'. We acknowledged at the time that although these were just words, the statement moved us forward and the key next step was be to survey the organization and see what areas we could address going forward.
The diversity study continues and I look forward to sharing with you the headline facts in the new year and what we will be doing to make sure that we are focussed on 'Rugby For All' in 2012 and beyond.
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.
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