USA Rugby League

A new group has been established with the aim of taking over the running of rugby league in the United States.

The Commission for Rugby League in the United States (USARLC) has been formed simultaneously with the release of the International Rugby League’s (IRL) statement on the governance of the game in the US.

The Commission has announced that it has appointed an independent executive board to oversee the game in the US.

A statement released by the Commission says it has appointed former Fiji 7s team manager Rob Kauvesi to the board. Joining him is lawyer Mark Nichols, who served extensively with Major League Baseball (MLB) as an investigator, along with Daniel Fale, chairman of Pacific Sports International.

The statement goes on to say, “The heavy hitters added to the advisory board are John Paul Basile, who has previously worked for the NBA and done extensive research on the viability of the sport in the US market.

“Former USA captain and NRL player David Nui joins the advisory board, along with Peter O’Doherty from NAB Creative, who brings a wealth of experience from his service on tourism boards.”

The Commission says that it intends to revive the USA All-Stars, the original American side that will mark its 70th anniversary in 2023.

The Commission says it has contacted all stakeholders in the game and encouraged them to apply for suitable positions based on their recent track record to add to the greater mission.

The Commission says it has already begun mentoring stakeholders in the game to better understand the requirements of good governance and non-profit accounting best practices. It says the process has begun with the independent executive board to construct an equitable constitution that provides equal opportunity for all participants, regardless of location and heritage. 

It is believed the Commission will be looking to Asia Pacific Rugby League to officially ratify its constitution.

However, the IRL has responded to the USARLC’s announcement by saying it has had no discussions with them.

The IRL says the US Association of Rugby League Inc (USARL Inc) is the officially appointed national governing body in the United States.

And in a further development, the Commission has filed legal action in Utah against individual board members of USARL Inc, instructing them to cease and desist any further activity.

The Commission alleges USARL Inc has undertaken fraudulent and misleading activity since 2017, when its status as a corporation was voided and from when its non-profit 501(c)(3) status was revoked. The suit alleges USARL Inc has been void and tax delinquent in Delaware, the state in which it was incorporated.

The main driving force behind the formation of this new group is Tom Stevenson, who previously established California Rugby League (CRL). He says what has happened to the game in the US in the last eight years is disappointing. However, the focus now must be on restoring the USA’s competitiveness on the world stage.

“We have begun work to qualify for the 2025 World Cup in France,” Stevenson tells Rugby League Planet. “This will be done by increasing the average domestic games per side to at least 12 in 2023 and to increase incrementally from there.

“We have also booked three internationals for men’s and women’s and are looking to add one more in the annual calendar in these three years leading up to the World Cup to improve our readiness.

“It’s not about control, it’s about putting the best people in an effective system to provide progress towards winning a World Cup. I will not be serving on the board of the USARLC. The country is lucky to have extremely qualified appointees who have already, in a short space proven their ability to create a financially viable operation to support the massive task ahead.

“We have an abundance of talented players in this country, and it is our role to create a platform for them to reach their potential and do our country proud.”

The USARLC says it plans to start a 13-a-side domestic competition in December. There will be eight teams in the league which will work on the basis of a ranking similar to the UFC.

And the USARLC says the Philippines has agreed to play annual matches in the US from 2023-2025 starting in July next year and that there will be an international between the US and Canada in August 2023.

RLP reached out to USARL Inc for a response, but they have opted not to comment at this time.

Brian is a strong and effective communicator with more than 30 years’ experience in broadcast and electronic media. He has been writing for Rugby League Planet since 2012 and is frequently the first reporter to break news stories about the sport. He has been our North American correspondent reporting on news in the US, Canada and Jamaica covering everything from league standings to strategy analysis to breaking news on key trades to editorials and colourful features on athletes. He is now writing about rugby league on a broader scale to cover developments around the globe. An accomplished storyteller, Brian started his career in Australian radio, before moving to the United States. He is an experienced podcast host and producer and is also a successful TV commentator having done play-by-play and analysis for ESPN, FOX Sports and the Rugby League European Federation (RLEF) among others. Brian has his own YouTube channel @brianlowe5567 where he posts his interviews for Rugby League Planet. Be sure to check it out and subscribe.