There has been a change in the front office of the USA Rugby League (USARL) LLC with chairman Danny Hanson stepping down. The LLC is the governing body that oversees the American domestic clubs competition.
The new year brought an end to Hanson’s four-year term in the job as according to the LLC’s bylaws, a chairman’s term runs from the Rugby League World Cup to the next World Cup.
He says in his time in the role, there has been progress in certain areas such as being able to build a small reserve in the USARL’s budget, and creating and executing a successful coaching, training, and certification program. As well, a women’s program was introduced, and the groundwork was laid for a US Masters program.
As for the flagship men’s club competition, he says the planned introduction last year of the North American Rugby League (NARL) threw a wrench in the USARL’s plans for development.
“Sadly, the introduction of the NARL was not seen favourably by some and it caused a deep chasm in the game at a fragile time,” says Hanson. “We’d lost teams over the past few years for various reasons and we’re trying to rebuild. Part of the rules and regulations dictate the minimum criteria teams must meet for their franchise (facilities, personnel, matchday procedures etc.) to remain part of the league and I stressed that these need to be met if I were to bring in any type of serious investor.
“I had several discussions during my term with potential investors and the first thing they wanted to see was our revenue stream, our media presence, our fanbase (including paying fans) and most importantly video of our matches. We struggled to get our matches posted weekly or even post-match reports, so all passed on the proposal.
“Some franchises do this very well and some are behind the eight ball. When every team meets the minimum standard and are routinely posting or live streaming matches showing a large match fanbase, the game can go to the next level and attract serious investors.
“The USA Rugby League LLC is the official domestic competition for the US and any team that wishes to play in a recognized competition with the opportunity for their players to be considered for selection by the national team, needs to fall under the banner of the USARL LLC.
“For example, Major League Rugby is finally breaking into the mainstream after 4 short years. I’m friends with some of the ownership team for the Old Glory DC team so I’m privy to how they run their organization and how the MLR operates. I believe they have set the standard for how to run a domestic competition for a sport other than football, baseball, or basketball. Many players in the US play both codes, so we run in the same circles, and we should be looking to MLR for advice and guidance as the model to success.”
Seeing as he has finished his term with the LLC, Hanson has moved over to US Women’s Rugby League Inc where he is the director of programs and finance. He’s also serving as manager for the national team, Redtails.
Hanson has been replaced at the LLC by Jacksonville Axemen owner/CEO Drew Slover, who comes in as the interim chairman.
“2020 and 2021 were challenging years that we are still recovering from,” says Slover. “As the person that has successfully run the Axemen for 16 years, I feel like I’ve got a mindset to improve the quality of the game on and off the field here in America.
“My hope is that I can help give teams a springboard to improve their operations for both players and fans.
“As for this season, I see some challenges, but that is to be expected. Nothing ever goes smoothly. Regardless of what happens, we’ll be playing games and teams will be competing for the national championship.”