USA Rugby: Player welfare paramount when sanctioning matches

Club, Player and Coach registration is an important player welfare issue here in the USA. USA Rugby provides insurance for all of our member clubs, players and coaches. It is not our role to sanction games for teams who are not members of our organization.

BOULDER, Colo. – Following recent media statements regarding the sanctioning of the Leicester Tigers v. NRFL Rough Riders match in Philadelphia, USA Rugby would like to make their position clear: a sanctioned game between an overseas team and a domestic USA team requires the sanction of both USA Rugby and the overseas team’s National Governing Body. The teams need to be in good standing with their domestic Union and comply with the rules and regulations of World Rugby.

In this specific case, the Leicester Tigers are in good standing with their governing body, the Rugby Football Union (RFU). The Rough Riders, however, are not a registered USA Rugby Club and, as far as we are aware, their players and coaches are not registered members of USA Rugby. Thus, the match cannot be sanctioned at this time. The NRFL has previously stated its intention to exist outside of USA Rugby and World Rugby.

All coaches and officials, who are registered members of USA Rugby, are required to pass specific courses concerning player safety and welfare. The requirement to have a registered, Level 200 certified coach on a club roster in order to be in registration compliance is to ensure that the participating athletes can play without fear of unnecessary injury. It is under these guidelines that USA Rugby can confidently sanction matches.

“Club, Player and Coach registration is an important player welfare issue here in the USA," said USA Rugby CEO Nigel Melville. “USA Rugby provides insurance for all of our member clubs, players and coaches. It is not our role to sanction games for teams who are not members of our organization."

A further example of the process can be seen in the sanctioning of the NRFL’s match between the Saracens and Crusaders at the Mercedes Benz Super Dome in New Orleans. In this case, both teams are in good standing with their respective Unions and the game has therefore been sanctioned by USA Rugby, provided that the playing surface complies with World Rugby Regulation 22. It is USA Rugby’s understanding that these tests are being undertaken and the match should be played without issue.