Directors

The current USA Board of Directors includes a chairman, five independent directors, two international athlete representatives and a representative of USA Rugby’s Congress.

The board is charged with developing and implementing the annual operational plans and establishing appropriate networks of volunteers and expert advisory groups to assist them in implementing the strategic and operational plans.


Barbara O'Brien

Barbara O’Brien

Chairman of the Board bobrien@usarugby.org

Barbara O’Brien has been involved in rugby in multiple ways since 1970. She started as a fan watching her future husband play in college, recruited youth players, including her two sons, and gained experience marketing rugby by creating the first fundraising event for the high school team and communicating the culture of rugby to parents and youth new to the sport. As Lt. Governor of Colorado, O’Brien promoted the sport of rugby as a statewide priority, including hosting the welcoming reception for the consulates and coaching staff of the international teams participating in the 2009 Churchill Cup held in Glendale, CO. Because the national office of USA Rugby is located in Colorado, O’Brien has had the opportunity to work with USA Rugby CEOs over two decades to help build youth rugby at the state and local level. O’Brien has attended rugby matches across the U.S., Europe and South America for the past forty years and has observed the global evolution of the sport and the potential of American rugby.

O’Brien joined the USA Rugby Board of Directors as an At-Large member in 2017 and was elected the interim chair in 2018. She was also elected to the Board of Education for Denver Public Schools in 2013 and was re-elected in 2017.

Prior to becoming Lt. Governor, O’Brien spent 16 years as president of the Colorado Children’s Campaign, a statewide public policy and advocacy nonprofit organization. She has received numerous awards for her work to improve the health and education of children and has been appointed to numerous state and national commissions by four governors of Colorado.

As a Colorado local, O’Brien resides just down the road from the USA Rugby National Office. She is married to an outside center and is the mother of a fullback and a wing.


Jeremiah Johnson

Jeremiah Johnson

Congress Rep to the Board of Directors jjohnson@usarugby.org

Jeremiah Johnson is an organizational process specialist. He currently serves as a Business Analyst for Principal Financial Group where he manages software development teams focused on tools supporting retirement plan compliance.

Jeremiah’s rugby contributions are similarly focused on professionally growing the game of rugby in the United States. Jeremiah joined the USA Rugby Board of Directors in January 2015, serving in the role of Congress Representative. In addition to this role, Jeremiah is currently President of the Midwest Rugby Union, a Director of the Iowa Youth Rugby Association, a referee on the Midwest Territorial Panel for USA Rugby, and the Head Coach of Iowa’s first Varsity rugby team at Southeast Warren High School in Liberty Center, Iowa. He previously served for 10 years as the President of the Iowa Rugby Union and 10 years as a member of the USA Rugby Congress.

Jeremiah began playing rugby for Bremer County RFC while pursuing his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Northern Iowa. He lives with his wife and step-daughter in Des Moines.


Todd Clever

Todd Clever

International Athlete tclever@usarugby.org

Clever was the fourth-youngest capped Eagle at age 20 when he made his debut against Argentina in August 2003. That same year, Clever made his first trip to the Rugby World Cup as a member of the Men’s Eagles, though he did not make an appearance. Four years and 15 caps later, he was selected to the USA’s 2007 Rugby World Cup squad and this time was a full-time starter. In that tournament Clever intercepted a pass against South Africa that set up a famously long try by Takudzwa Ngwenya. In 2008, Clever captained the United States to Churchill Cup bowl win over Georgia and then clinched a 2011 Rugby World Cup birth by winning a home-and-away series against Uruguay. Clever would captain the Men’s Eagles in the 2011 Rugby World Cup. From 2004 to 2009, Clever was also a member of the Men’s Eagles Sevens and made 24 appearances on the World Rugby Sevens Series. Clever broke the record for most international test appearances by an American with his 68th cap against Russia in the summer of 2016. His first taste at professional rugby came in 2006 with North Harbour of the National Provincial Championship in New Zealand. He would later become the first-ever American to play in the Super 14 (Super Rugby), as a member of the South African Lions. Clever would go on to play four years in the Japan Top League (Suntory Sungoliath, NTT Shining Arc) before leaving for the Newcastle Falcons of the Aviva Premiership. Clever is currently a co-owner and strategic partner for the Huns Rugby Management group and plays for the Austin Huns.


Phaidra Knight

Phaidra Knight

International Athlete pknight@usarugby.org

Phaidra Knight is an entrepreneur, lawyer, coach, and media talent. She most recently launched a youth rugby company based in Westchester, NY. As a talent representative, she is involved in the structuring and negotiation of employment contracts, sponsorship activations, and product endorsements for both professional athletes and fitness personalities. She is the Women’s Head Rugby Coach at Monroe College in New Rochelle, NY and the strength and conditioning coach for the Community Olympic Development Program in New York, New York. During her downtime, she commentates and does sideline reporting for USA Rugby/TRC, World Rugby, ESPN3, and NBCSN.

A former USA 7s Team player, Knight is currently competing for a spot on the 2017 World Cup Team that will represent the USA in Ireland later this summer. If successful, this will mark her fourth World Cup. She is one of the most notable names in rugby, having sustained an international career for nearly 18 years. At the conclusion of the 2002 and 2006 World Cups, she was named to the All World Team and in 2010, Rugby Magazine named her the USA Rugby Player of the Decade.

She graduated Alabama State University with a Dual BA in Speech Communications and Political Science in 1996 and the University of Wisconsin School of Law with a Juris Doctorate in 1999. She is admitted in Wisconsin.


Paul Santinelli

Paul Santinelli

Transitional Director psantinelli@usarugby.org

Paul Santinelli is an entrepreneur and current rugby player who has been involved in and playing rugby for 30 years. He completed the 2018 campaign as a starting front row and co-captain of San Francisco Golden Gate’s D2 Men’s Club, with two appearances with the club’s Pacific Rugby Premiership side. He is currently the president of San Francisco Golden Gate RFC and board member of the San Francisco Golden Gate Rugby Foundation. Prior to rejoining SFGG, Paul was on board of directors & treasurer of Colusa County RFC, served as secretary for the Northern California Rugby Football and served as an advisor to the NCRFU and union liaison to the Northern California Pelicans Referee Society.

Paul has been an operating executive in the technology sector for 26 years. During that time, he has held CEO, CTO and VP roles as several high profile companies including companies such as Global Crossing and Red Hat. He has been a repeat entrepreneur and has led M&A transactions and served on private company boards in a variety of capacities including compensation and audit committees.

Since 2005, he has been a general partner at Northbridge, a technology focused venture capital firm As a general partner, he has the responsibility of investing and managing investments with proper governance, compliance and board oversight.