July Congress meeting focused on USA Rugby's accountability, progress in key development areas

First on the agenda was discussion from CEO Dan Payne, updating the congress on the business of USA Rugby and its performance.

Lafayette, CO - The USA Rugby Congress met this weekend in Washington, D.C. for its second meeting of the year to address several important issues, including membership fees, ratifying directors of the USA Rugby board, and setting priorities for the USA Rugby National Office and staff.

First on the agenda was discussion from CEO Dan Payne, updating the congress on the business of USA Rugby and its performance. Payne's review of operations included a review of the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens event, his business and operations plan for the next 18 months and his focus on key elements of Strategy 2020.

"This was an extremely constructive meeting," explained Payne. "Members of congress rightfully came to this meeting with some tough questions for us, and were focused on raising the level of accountability from the national office. The board and our staff were extremely receptive and addressed congress' concerns, and left the meeting with several items for immediate action.'

CFO Tim Jones and Board Treasurer Rob King reviewed the organization's financial position and fielded questions from the congress around financial accountability and holding budget managers accountable. King laid out new financial accountability measures adopted by the board and the audit committees, ensuring ongoing oversight would be in place from several sets eyes.

Additionally, they laid out the positive movement toward a strong financial position of the union, with the first two quarters of the year coming in at above anticipated revenues and below anticipated expenses. Their goal, along with the Audit Committee, is to finish FY 2017 with a reserve fund that will grow for years to come, ensuring financial strength of the organization. It also ensures focus can be kept on key grassroots development projects, vital to our long-term success.

Two board members were ratified by the Congress, with Chad Keck remaining on the board for another term, and freshman Board Member Barbara O'Brien being welcomed to the team. A Denver native, O'Brien joins the USA Rugby board with exciting experience as Colorado's Lieutenant Governor, Denver City School Board President and extensive experience in small business and program incubation.

In the final voting session of the day, congress ratified a plan to increase member fees. With USA Rugby not having raised fees since 2004 (outside adding insurance in 2012), congress identified the need of a modest cost of living adjustment, while ensuring the additional revenue would be utilized to normalize key areas of USA Rugby's operations. Key funding for NCAA Women's Initiative, youth rugby development and direct member benefits were top of this list. This fee adjustment will be implemented when fall registration opens August 10, 2017.

MembershipNew Fees - 2017/18Current Fees
Club Registration$160$150
Coach Registration$65$65
Referee Registration$65$45
Adult Player Registration$50$45
College Player Registration$45$40
High School Player Registration$35$30
Youth Contact Player Registration$25$20
Rookie Rugby Player Registration$5$5
Executive/Admin Registration$35$30

Mark Lambourne, Mid-Atlantic Congress Representative and Coaching Director of James Madison University, was in attendance this weekend and shared his sentiments.

"This weekend Congress was presented with numerous challenges and tough questions to address." Lambourne continued, "While many key items and issues are still under review, the collaborative approach taken by the Board, NGB leadership and Congress to address the challenges we face as a sport was done so in a constructive manner. Significant progress was made in many areas as the collective organization continues to evolve and improve. It was an open and positive gathering with all who participated agreeing there is still a lot to be done"

Other presentations included one from Rosalind Chou about women's rugby development, Ron Watson rolling out a membership benefit package program (to be debuted in the coming year), a bylaw clean up around SafeSport initiative and the US Rugby Players Association, and a brief presentation by USA Rugby staff on Rugby Development Officers. In a final presentation, the 1987 USA Eagle Women's Team was honored in a 'capping' ceremony that was 30 years overdue. Captain Kathy Flores spoke to the Congress and attendees, including the current World Cup squad, poised to leave for Ireland this week.

Payne summarized the meeting by saying, "The USA Rugby Congress made a huge step this weekend towards the growth and development of rugby in the United States; addressing our funding needs to push youth, collegiate and adult community rugby to strength in coming years."

More information about the USA Rugby congress can be found here.