USA Rugby League

By Brian Lowe, Date: 6/3/18

The much-anticipated USA Rugby League annual general meeting has paved the way for a restructure of the league’s decision-making process into the future.

Despite a big nor’easter barreling into the US east coast at the start of the weekend, the AGM went ahead as planned in Jacksonville, FL, although the storm disrupted the travel plans of many members whose flights were canceled, forcing them to call in instead.

Danny Hanson was elected the new chairman of USARL LLC, replacing the outgoing Peter Illfield who chose not to re-contest the position due to his relocation back to Australia.

In other elections, Drew Slover (Jacksonville Axemen) was appointed new LLC treasurer taking over from Tristan Silk, while Bob Taylor (Atlanta Rhinos) and John Hicks (NOVA Eagles) were elected to the USARL Inc board.

In a landmark vote at the AGM, the USARL’s 12 clubs were given a bigger say in how the league is run.

“Every team now gets one vote in a 12-member congress of LLC,” said Hanson. “Before we didn’t have that.

“That member congress will elect a five-man board to ensure our strategic plan is carried out and in accordance with the will of the member clubs.”

According to Hanson, that board will be elected soon, and once in place, it’s expected to fast-track decisions going forward.

“We’re trying to streamline the way we’re doing things. It’s going to allow the clubs to go to their representatives to handle issues.

“It will enable the clubs to focus on running their clubs and the five-man board will execute on their behalf.”

Also, during the AGM representatives of the Midwest rugby league called in to give an update on how things are progressing in their plans to grow the game.

There are moves to set up a separate Midwest competition of potentially four to five clubs and to eventually become part of the USARL (we’ll have more on that in a separate story).

The recent granting of observer status to the RLIF by GAISF (Global Association of International Sports Federations) was also discussed at the meeting with members deciding to take it a step further domestically.

“We plan to approach the US Olympic Committee about getting their recognition as the national governing body for rugby league in the United States,” added Hanson.

In other discussions, the members agreed to consider expanding the international schedule for the USA Hawks.

Ideally, they would like the Hawks to play more home Test matches starting in 2019. That would be in addition to the annual Americas Championship games against Canada and Jamaica.

There are no favored countries on the list at this point, but feelers will be put out.

The Rugby League International Challenge match between England and New Zealand to be played in Denver in June was also discussed and as teams are reviewing the domestic season schedule, a decision is forthcoming on whether the league will have a bye that weekend.

The matter should be resolved this week.

The 2018 domestic season has been tentatively penciled in to start on June 2 with the national championship game likely to be played in late August.