Archives for March 2014

A Tie is as Good as a Loss: Uruguay 27 USA 27

Uruguay came out on top of a 27 to 27 tie in Montevideo on Saturday, March 22, 2014, in the  World Cup qualifier against the USA.  A team of mostly amateurs from a country of 3 million people, who rival the 300 million people in the USA  for apathy towards rugby, controlled large parts of  the match.

When asked before the  match if the USA would run up some points,  USA players said  the hope was to just win by at least a point. In the end shooting so low shot us  in the foot.  As in so many matches  the USA approach of taking the ball forward  as far as one player  could and then slowly digging it  out of the ensuing mess failed. Beyond this tactic which has served the Eagles so poorly in the past, there were other problems. Uruguay, with the help of a ref who had little ability to organize a safe scrum, pushed a much larger Eagle scrum to the point of player frustration that saw several players on the edge of yellow cards and Nick Wallace eventually receiving one.  A backline that featured some serious professional talent outside saw the wings wilt  in the Uruguayan sunshine as they screamed for the ball that was never to come. The Eagles are desperately in need of an effective  fly half.

There are few reading this who do not understand  the risks of playing an open game with playing time for those who are trying to be creative in timely offloads. Hopefully the time will arrive soon  when  our too often failure to be successful at the conservative game  leads us to a more exciting and eventually more successful  style of rugby.

The following translated quote is from rugby writer Ceibal Regules for the Uruguay newspaper “Nacional”: ‘Uruguay … confused their rival who was undiscipined, technically limited, and lacking in creativity.’ Hopefully they will see a different USA side in Atlanta and my pre- match prediction of a four try margin will come true. Unfortunately we have shown Uruguay the light at the end of the easy route through the World Cup qualification tunnel.

 

Louisiana Youth Rugby Growing Pains

Below is an exchange of emails regarding the evolution of youth rugby in Louisiana and some conflicting ideas related to the regions high school league and the emerging State Based Rugby Organization (SBRO). The emails are in reverse chronological order and have been edited to maintain relevant content.

 

March 20, 2014, from Paul Miniclier

Everyone,
After talking to Gary (Giepert) this a.m. the crux of these agenda item boils down to Gary’s position that the high school group should be an
autonomous group with Louisiana Rugby subject only to general USA Rugby
guidelines and my position that Louisiana high school teams are part of
Louisiana Rugby (State Based Rugby Organization SBRO) and, as such, subject to its guidance and control.    Thanks, Paul Miniclier

 

On 3/20/2014 from Gary Giepert

Coaches,
Here are the agenda items Paul wants to place on the SBRO meetings agenda.  Please see below:

Subject: Re: Agenda Items for La. SBRO Meeting
Since the high school season is nearly complete, I believe a few
interim issues need to be addressed.

1) Pending the formulation and adoption of By Laws and
Protocols/Procedures for all levels of rugby (not just high school), the
scope and authority of the High School committee to formulate its own
rules without Board approval. I propose that, until these items are
formalized, any issue from the high school committee must be submitted
to the Board for a vote. I also propose to limit voting rights on
substantive issues to Louisiana teams.

2) Pending the formulation  and adoption of By Laws and
Protocols/Procedures for all levels of rugby, the sole authority to
regulate any aspect of rugby rests solely with the Board and all
submitted items are subject to the vote of the Board.

Part of this discussion will include the pending issues
concerning the requirement for the payment of dues and enforcement of
this obligation/penalties for failure to pay dues; the enforcement of
coach certification requirement on teams; the confirmation of all rugby
team’s right to use the pitch at Harrison and Marconi in City Park; and
the disciplinary procedures for coaching misconduct.

3) Pending the formulation and adoption of the By Laws and
Protocols/Procedures, the budget year for Louisiana Rugby is the
calendar year and that the current dues structure remain in place until
these items are passed by the Board and/or members.

I will add these items to the agenda,
Regards, Paul

 On 3/20/2014 8:33 AM, from Gary:
  I would like to place the following two matters on the agenda for Tuesdays meeting:

1)    To confirm or vote on if it has not already been approved ( I thought we had voted on it and approved it at the last meeting) that in relation to high school rugby no rules, regulations, procedures, protocols, dues, assessment or anything else can be assessed by or pronounced by the La SBRO Board, any SBRO Board member or officer without it first being voted on and passed by the High School Rugby Committee.  The High School Rugby Committee shall be comprised of all High School Rugby coaches and assistant coaches with each La. team getting one vote. Non-La. will be members and have a vote regarding league issues but not regarding issues that are strictly State issues or La. SBRO issues.

2)    Any dues or assessments on high school rugby teams or players by the  La. SBRO are for a one year duration and must approved annually by the High School Rugby Committee.  The vote regarding the dues or assessments by the High School Rugby Committee must be held by July 15th for the next calendar year, in order to give the La. SBRO time to inform USA Rugby to include the dues on the CIPP applications or remove the dues from the CIPP applications.

Gary J. Giepert

On 3/17/14 Paul Miniclier wrote:
Jerry,
Rest assured, I know Louisiana Rugby stands on the shoulders on a
small group of guys who have worked very hard for many years to keep
rugby alive in New Orleans. To answer your questions:

1) In the past couple of months,Louisiana Rugby has been contacted
by groups and individuals who want to start youth rugby, including high
school, in Baton Rouge, Alexandria and Shreveport.

Since this season is almost over, we are focusing on the start of
the next school year. Our efforts will include identifying coaches,
getting them certified, helping the local groups form and offer
assistance in school visits, player clinics, and youth events. We are
currently in the process of formalizing requirements and recommendations
for these other cities’ rugby groups, as well as constructing a state
structure.

These programs are going to be new and over the next few months we
are going to discuss a short term and long term strategic plan for this
expansion. For example, I have proposed a high school coaches’ summit to
reach a consensus on standards for submission to the Board for approval
and, if necessary, submit to the general membership for approval.
Another potential program for expansion to other cities is to reach an
agreement with senior and/or college sides to help foster youth
programs. Again, we will propose a senior/college side summit to work
out the details for submission to the Board.

The plan has been to use New Orleans as the incubator for
developing programs, identify issues, resolving them and then offer a
program package to other interested rugby people around the state. This
is an exciting time for rugby in Louisiana and everyone’s input is welcome.

2) USA Rugby’s rates are not extravagant- $30 per year. The state
dues of $25 per player are going to help us match the $10,000 grant we
received for Nick Conte’s salary. By the time the high school tournament
is over, we will hopefully have  reached our matching requirement.
According to my calculations, $10,000 covers a 333 high school players’
dues to USA Rugby or, in historic terms, two years worth of dues for 150
players.

National is also provides training, resources and a significant
push in youth rugby development. USA Rugby’s goal is to increase rugby
participation at all levels, from 6 years old to high school. Some
cities and states are way ahead of us. For example, Denver has over
20,000 kids participating in rugby. Texas, last year alone, exposed over
28,000 kids to rugby in two school districts.

So, national is also in agreement with you—“introducing the
greatest game in the world to the next generation and assuring its
affordability to all”. All of us should be in agreement on this point.
We are just getting started and need everyone’s help to move forward
together to reach this goal. This concept requires broader thinking
beyond the past and into the future. The Olympics are two years away—I
think we should be prepared for the next generation who asks to play
rugby once they see the Games.

Thank you for your years to help at all levels of rugby, Paul

On 3/17/2014 2:24 PM, Jerry Malina wrote:
Paul thank you for your kind words about all the old boys that put in
tremendous time and energy over the years to build a thriving NOLA
rugby community. I would like to emphatically state that in no way is
New Orleans Rugby broken.We have won national titles at the mens and u
20 level and  won regionally and represented in the national
tournament at the high school level. LSU, ULL and now Loyola have won
at the regional level and a achieved national rankings.The majority of
rugby communities never achieve this level of success.Nowhere near
it. So I guess I have two questions. As a state based organization
what is being done to grow rugby in all the cities of Louisiana? 2 who
becomes enriched by USA rugby’s extravagant rate hikes? Unless you play
high level select side most players get little if anything from the
national governing body. Rugby to me as a coach is all about
introducing the greatest game in the world to the next generation, and
assuring its affordability for all. Cheers, Jerry

 

March 17, 2013, email Paul Miniclier to Gary Giepert 

The Board votes on fee collections and the consequences, not you or
I. Nor do you get to decide what is voted on by the Board. And, there
has been no such vote by the Board granting any power to the High School
committee. That is one of the reasons that I proposed a summit to
discuss and draft a proposal for the Board’s approval which, in turn,
would be submitted to the membership for approval.
Also, your role as Treasurer of Louisiana Rugby makes you
responsible for dues collection. So, what is your proposal to collect
dues? And enforce the collection

As to West Jeff. and others, all teams are welcomed to play in our
league provided they comply with USA Rugby’s requirements and ours, as
well as any school requirements. Again, I have proposed a summit. What is your suggestion to meet with the  high school coaches, discuss, draft and submit procedures to the Board for approval and vote by the membership?

Change is coming. We either evolve into a professionally run state wide youth rugby group or
not. And, while I truly respect what you and others have done to keep high school rugby alive in New Orleans over the last twelve years, our group has larger objectives and cannot be focused on only the original four teams in New Orleans..

And, yes to all of the NOLA Old Boys, I do understand your impressive commitment to high school rugby in New Orleans and respect that effort. But, this organization is not dedicated to one city or  limited to four schools. And, what was done in the past does not necessarily work for the future.
Some of you have objected to my “instructions” and to the extent I may or may not have over stepped any authority, I apologize and want to work with everyone who wants to move us forward. As I have told a number of the “Old Boys”, I’ll step back as soon as someone “steps up”. So far, no one has stepped up for the tough decisions. So, any volunteers? Who
will actually make the tough decisions not based on past loyalties?           Regards, Paul

On 3/15/2014 Gary Giepert to Paul Miniclier .

The Board will not vote on dues and collection on March 25th.  The Board has already
voted that no rule or regulation can be passed related to High School
Rugby unless and until the High School Committee votes on it first. If I have anything to say about it all teams are welcome to play in the High School Tournament. Further,  the High School Committee has not said there would be a summit nor have they said we need written protocols or procedures.

 

– Paul Miniclier wrote:
The Board will vote on dues and collection on March 25th.
Coaches- instead of just saying no, what are your ideas to collect dues from teams who do not pay? And, how do you enforce? After the season, a coaches summit will be held to discuss in detail and establish consensus protocols and procedures for submission to the Board for approval. Once approved, the protocols, along with other major items, will be submitted to the membership at the annual general mtg in the fall, date to be determined.           Thanks, Paul

On 3/14/2014 6:38 PM, ALBERT FREYDER , coach of St Paul wrote:
Who makes up this board. I am not aware who the people are that make
up the board. Is it all the coaches? Is it just a few? I wasn’t aware
of the vote. Had I known I would have voted no. I am with Gary no one
should be denied being in the tournament because of money. If that were to happen then this whole thing becomes about money and not the  players. Certain teams may never get to compete if they can’t raise the money to pay these dues. AL Freyder St. Paul’s Rugby

On 3/14/14 From:* Paul Miniclier *Subject:* Re: Louisiana Rugby Dues
Gary,
The matter will be submitted to the Board for a vote. The
issue of  payment of dues has already been voted on by the Board, including you.
The issue of enforcement will be submitted to the Board.    How do you propose to enforce dues requirement? Other than “encourage” them to pay?
You can defend your position to them. And, I will defend mine.
Thanks, Paul

On 3/14/2014 6:27 AM, Gary Giepert wrote:
Paul,
You do not have authority to make rules or decisions regarding high school rugby. The rules and decisions regarding who may and may not participate in the High School Tournament is up to the High School Committee which is comprised of the coaches of all of the La High School teams.
Although I encourage every team to pay their dues, I vote against your proposal that only clubs that are current can participate in the High School Tournament.
Gary

In November, 2013  Agenda Items to Support & Advance Deep South Youth Rugby

 

In a series of emails to many members of the Deep South regions youth rugby leadership, Paul Miniclier brought up several items related to the advancement of youth rugby in Louisiana to be placed on agenda for consideration at high school rugby meeting:

One immediate item was setting April 12-13th as date of Serevi clinic.

There is no handbook/procedures yet. Discussion to begin to work  on creating handbook over the year, along with by-laws. With Nick Conte gone, this has been a solo effort by Paul.

Speaking of Nick (Conte), he has expressed the desire to move out of Youth Devel. Coordinator. for La. Rugby. Suggestions are needed for a replacement. Paul asked USA Rugby for grant for next year which with a little help, we can turn into full time paid position.

Middle school league not yet formed. Initial thoughts were to form 7th/8th grade teams at existing high schools, 4 or 5, so that they can practice at same time with same coaches and play matches before or after high school matches. Alternative, if not enough kids, do modified 7s season. As it goes, we can set up separate control but for now, it can fall under high school side.

Louisiana Rugby will have a separate mtg to elect board and draft by-laws. One committee will be the Competition Committee with sub-committees of youth, middle school and high school. Coaches for each level will be part of that sub-committee. Another committee-finance/fund raising–volunteers?

My topics for meeting:
1) Coaching certification/ Continuing Ed.;
2) payment of state dues;
3) Youth Dev. Coord.;
4) Host of State Rugby Tournament/Rugby Days;
5) HS physicals;
6) trainers at matches and concussion procedures;

7) Co-Host Serevi Rugby Clinic on weekend of April 12-13 for all
interested high school, college and men’s players. Cost- $250 per
player. Location-New Orleans. Main upside is that at least one, if not
both, of the main Eagles’ coaches will be at clinic to evaluate players
for national sides, all levels. This is a huge opportunity for our rugby
programs to be evaluated at the national level. BUT, we need to commit
to these dates VERY soon. It is the weekend before Easter.
I would like to commit to these dates before our scheduling meeting–Any
objections to setting aside this weekend? If so, please reply to group
and state your reasons for objections. If I hear no objections, I will
commit to weekend and we can work around it at scheduling meeting.

8) Coaches!!!!!! ESA has lost its coach and Rummel is struggling to find
experienced/certified coach. I also have had queries from Baton Rouge
and Shreveport, as well as Tulane. I need help identifying coaches,
locally and around the state. Please reach out and let me know.

9) NEW enforcement USA Rugby–No middle schoolers, 7th and 8th graders,
can play in any High School matches. 15 year old waiver only applies to
freshmen. And no HS v. college matches. No Exceptions or Modifications.

10) New Middle school league and season to run at same time as HS
season, maybe before or after HS matches.  15s ??? 7s???

11) Red Card procedures–USA Rugby has established Red Card review
procedures and guidelines for match suspensions. Please go to USA Rugby
website before mtg and review so that we can discuss/ adopt rules.

Thanks, Paul Minciler

USA v Uruguay 2015 World Cup Qualifier Match Prediction & Beyond

 3/18/14 Miami Airport – Avianca to Montevideo

On Saturday, March 22nd,  the USA and Uruguay national rugby sides will repeat  what is becoming an every 4 year event. Four years ago the USA returned from Uruguay with a 27-22 victory in the first leg of their World Cup qualifying match. They secured the America 2 spot to the 2011 World Cup by outscoring  Uruguay 27-6 a week later. The USA are once again favored to win.

A cautious prediction would be one that predicts the obvious with the cautious addendum: The Eagles should not take Uruguay lightly. If the USA team that lost to Canada (27-9) in Charleston in August shows up in Montevideo, Los Teros might have the opening they need to squeeze out a win that would inspire them to an exceptional effort in Atlanta on March 29th. The Eagles could then be chasing the last World Cup play-off spot in Pool A (Australia, England, Wales, Fiji). To catch that last spot they would need to win a match with  the  Asian runner-up  (somebody like Kazakhstan) to get to a home and away series with the winner of Russia and the African runner-up (somebody like Namibia).

But this is not a cautious prediction. The Eagles are a year into a new level of professionalism. Four years  ago there were 9 members of the side playing professional rugby. This year the Eagle traveling squad of 26 has 16 professionals.  They have an overwhelming advantage in international experience. They  will win in Montevideo by 4 tries.

And … as the America 2 team in Pool B  there is even  a shimmer of hope of a World Cup quarterfinal match. Here is the shimmer I see in the distance.  It’s September  20th, 2015. In the beachside town of Brighton the Eagles score the first upset of the World Cup  by beating Samoa 21-12. On the 27th they beat Scotland in Leeds by 1 point. On October 7th in a sold out Olympic Stadium in London  they play valiantly against South Africa in a losing effort. Four days later they face the Mighty Blossoms of  Japan.  A win will send  them  into the Quarterfinals.

Stranger things have happened.  France was beaten by both Tonga and New Zealand in 2011 World Cup pool play and came back to play the All Blacks in the final.