By Brian Lowe, Date: 1/3/18
The USA Rugby League’s (USARL) AGM is set for this weekend in Jacksonville, FL, and it could turn out to be pivotal for the game in America. Central to the meeting will be the election of a new clubs competition board which will then have to make a decision on the future direction of the game in the United States.
Board members will determine whether they will either continue along the path set down by the previous administrators and founding member clubs or take another direction.
Having returned to Australia for personal reasons, USARL chairman Peter Illfield will not be seeking re-election as chair, or a position on the new board, while communications manager Steve Williams will also be stepping down from his role.
Illfield says since the formation of the USARL LLC in 2011, the league and its clubs have operated a successful and demanding national competition and it will be incumbent on the new board to ensure that continues.
“As the national governing body, the USARL board should consist of dynamic and committed directors including representation of the major stakeholders i.e. clubs, players and officials,” he said.
“Its strategic plan should form the basis of best practice for implementing programs, operations and development of the game in the USA.”
Illfield says a major policy decision that has set the USARL apart from its predecessors, and one he hopes will remain in place, is the selection process for the national team the Hawks that was first implemented in 2015.
“The selection process provided 12 USA competition-based players success in achieving selection on their playing merits for the first time in USA history. This was more than 50 per cent of the 23-man RLWC2017 squad.
“These players are now charged with sharing and emulating their experience for their USA club teammates to realize the opportunities and preparation required in front of them for future representation at the highest level.”
Outgoing executive board member Williams hopes the meeting will be used to capitalize on the efforts of the previous administrators who he says laid a foundation for rugby league to grow in the United States.
“Now in its eighth season, USARL clubs can continue with a history of voting on all matters or restructure the competition board with voting positions that are focused on strategic initiatives such as youth development, college, coach education, marketing entities etc,” he said.
“With RLWC2025 approaching, the board meeting outcome will contribute to USA’s RLWC campaign on home soil eight years from now.”
After the board has been elected, members’ attention will quickly be directed to an issue that was one of the core reasons why clubs originally opted to break away from the former American National Rugby League and set up the USARL.
Interim chair Danny Hanson says that issue is the restructure discussion.
“We plan to implement a structure that is representative of and fully accountable to the member clubs,” said Hanson.
“The initial concern was each member club did not have an equal vote regarding the running of the league.
“We addressed this in January and now each USARL member club has a vote. As we begin the restructuring discussions this weekend, each member club will have a say in future league governance.
“Our main goal is to institute a structure that is responsible and accountable to the member clubs, capable of fostering growth of the game in the States.”