Vale, Robert Hoder: Founder of Rugby Imports, Providence and Barrington Rugby Clubs

It was with great sadness USA Rugby learned of Robert “Bob” Hoder’s passing yesterday, Monday, September 17. Bob was an instrumental figure in America’s rugby community and left a lasting footprint.

Hoder was the founder and captain of the Providence Rugby Club, as well as the Barrington Rugby Club. However, what he was best known for within the rugby community is his company, Rugby Imports.

Having worked with the rugby community for over 45 years, Hoder left an indelible mark on America’s community rugby scene. Whether he was helping programs at the youth, high school, college or club levels, it was impossible to be a part of the wider community and not know about Bob and Rugby Imports.

“Bob was a lifetime rugby enthusiast and ardent supporter of rugby in America. He was well-known across the country and in international rugby circles for his passion to promote the game,” stated Rich Cortez, USA Rugby’s Director of Collegiate Rugby, who first met Hoder as the coach of Stanford University. “His company, Rugby Imports, sponsored coaching clinics, time after time, to make sure that the community rugby coaches could improve their competency and make the game safer and better for all.  He was a unique individual and you were never quite sure where Bob would pop up is tent. He will be sorely missed.”

USA Rugby opens voting for official unified hashtag

  • Community voting opens for USA Rugby’s new official unified hashtag
  • Fans can use social media to vote on one of three options until September 30
  • Hashtag to serve as a singular phrase that supports national teams and rugby’s growth in America
  • Every member of the community allowed to be part of the process

LAFAYETTE, CO. – USA Rugby has today opened voting for an official unified hashtag to support the vision and representation of its union. Fans across the United States are encouraged to use one of three options on their social media channels before Sunday, Sep. 30 to vote on which phrase they feel should be selected.

Each of the three options fits a set of criteria established by the union to be both uniquely identifiable and serve as a purposeful depiction of what the organization represents. The objective is to create a singular phrase that fans, athletes and the community can use in support of national teams; and by extension, the growth of rugby in America.

After an initial period of conceptualization, a multitude of options were measured against the following:

  • Must include the word “Eagle” to align with the union’s nickname and mark
  • Cannot be too general so as to allow unrelated organizations to duplicate its use
  • Should be broad enough to encompass many uses across digital and social media
  • Should not be longer than three words to keep it simple and memorable
  • Must be a positive and engaging portrayal of the union and rugby’s core values

Following this preliminary stage, USA Rugby provided a final round of options to representatives from each senior national team to gauge interest and relatability. With athlete feedback, the below three options were selected to carry forward into Phase Two of fan and community voting.

  • #EaglesUnited
  • #EaglesRise
  • #EagleTerritory

The first option, #EaglesUnited, has been used previously and spreads a message of cohesion and togetherness for the community to embrace. Given existing familiarity with the phrase, #EaglesUnited would be easily adopted.

#EaglesRise was developed to articulate the union’s sense of direction in an Olympic qualification and World Cup year; as well as through increasing developments across all facets of the game. If selected, the option would be introduced with a string of accompanying phrases, using keywords to signify rugby’s core values. For example, “Rise with honor, Rise a leader, Rise proud, #EaglesRise”

#EagleTerritory was created to project a sense of ownership wherever it’s used; showing the union makes its mark as a collective in all its endeavors.

In order to cast their vote, fans must use their desired hashtag on Twitter or Instagram with an accompanying photo or brief description to support their choice. Only posts which use one of the three hashtags will be counted. National office staff and the larger player pools will also be given a forum to vote, allowing every member of the community an opportunity to be a part of the process.

Voting will close on Sun, Sep. 30 after which the union will begin tallying options to see which hashtag will be selected.

Once a final choice is identified, the third and final phase will commence with the development of an official launch plan to bring the phrase to life.

USA Rugby Board Meeting Review: September 2018

LAFAYETTE, CO. – USA Rugby’s Board of Directors have concluded their September meeting at the USAR offices in Colorado. Board Chair Barbara O’Brien and Interim CEO Ross Young led the meeting, with SRi and other constituents providing updates on key organizational activities.

O’Brien began with the introduction of newest director on the board, Agustin Pichot. Currently serving as Vice Chairman of World Rugby and President of Rugby Americas, Pichot expressed his enthusiasm to see rugby grow in the United States. He pledged his expertise and support wherever it can benefit the union and the support of World Rugby in these efforts.

New Chief Financial Officer Eric Gleason was also introduced and provided an overview of his approach to stabilize the union’s financial operations. Interim CEO Ross Young spoke about the vision for Gleason and how the role will serve as an integral part of USA Rugby’s future.

Young continued discussions with an update on each functional area of the national office. Positive feedback from the National Championship Series events, growth in Regional Development Officers and the success of senior national teams were highlighted as significant contributors to the growth of the game. Young also gave an overview about the plan to lead the national office forward by reorganizing and developing a clear-cut structure of operations. A dialogue surrounding the relationship with Major League Rugby and the expansion of the women’s game were explored, as well, with the search for a new Women’s Eagles Sevens Head Coach underway.

The Board of Directors (BOD) spent time reviewing Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018, citing the many benchmarks met across youth legacy programs, digital/social engagement and viewership to evaluate current and future opportunities.

A significant portion of the meeting was directed to SRi who continued its governance review with a focus on USA Rugby’s nominations process and bylaws as they pertain to seating open Director positions on the board. SRi representative Mike Squires and the Directors considered the process by which to develop a unified mission — in collaboration with all stakeholders — to ensure new board members would offer valuable expertise to the union.

The final topics of the meeting centered around the creation of an advisory committee and working groups to develop a strategic plan for USA Rugby. The Directors were keen to explore methods that both allowed key stakeholders to be included within the process and held community values at the core.

An analysis of diversity and inclusion closed out the September meeting, with members taking note of areas where both can be expanded upon and improved.

Following the meeting, Interim CEO Ross Young said: “Several key items were explored and discussed in today’s meeting, leaving us more confident in our sense of direction and operations moving forward. We’ve gained considerable ground over the past few months and, together, continue to build a cohesive plan that supports the growth of rugby across the nation.”

Board Chair Barbara O’Brien said: “As we continue to make progress in our governance review, we can use the successful delivery of Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 and its engagement of youth as a springboard in our vision for American rugby. With our community expanding to new regions every day, we’ll prioritize increasing philanthropic support for our national teams, developing a sound strategic plan and building commercial partnerships to benefit all of USA Rugby. Collaboration and stability across all areas will maintain a strong foundation for the sport.”

For more information about the USA Rugby Board of Directors or to view complete minutes of meetings, visit the Board of Directors page on

Agustin Pichot nominated to USA Rugby Board of Directors

  • USA Rugby Board of Directors announce the nomination of Agustín Pichot as World Rugby’s representative on the Board.
  • World Rugby and USA Rugby to collaborate on sustainable growth strategies that will cement USA as a major player on the global rugby stage.
  • Pichot’s appointment enables World Rugby to understand USA Rugby’s needs and enable USA Rugby top access the international federation’s expertise.

LAFAYETTE, CO – USA Rugby and its Board of Directors today announced the appointment Agustín Pichot as World Rugby’s representative on the USA Rugby Board.

As the international federation’s Vice Chairman and President of Rugby Americas, Pichot is the World Rugby nominated candidate to represent the global organization on the USA Rugby board. In line with a package of investment and support measures recently agreed between USA Rugby and the Executive Committee, Pichot will assist the union’s governance and commercial restructure and accelerate the development of the sport in the United States.

Following the USA Rugby board nomination process, Pichot’s appointment will enable World Rugby to better understand the growth needs of a major strategic nation that is home to approximately 33 million fans* and USA Rugby to access World Rugby’s commercial, development and event expertise, ensuring future growth is sustainable and propels the United States to become a major player on the global rugby stage.

“Welcoming Agustín to USA Rugby is an incredible step forward for American rugby,” said USA Rugby Chair, Barbara O’Brien, “He has a first-hand understanding for the development of rugby and after a storied playing career; owns a genuine passion for the advancement of the game.”

The announcement comes as the USA Rugby community reflects on a game-changing Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 in San Francisco that attracted a record crowd for rugby in the US with over 100,000 seated. Additionally, setting new rugby broadcasting records with nearly nine million viewers on NBC and smashed social media engagement; propelling the sport to a broader audience and providing a new launch pad for rugby to advance both domestically and internationally.

World Rugby Hall of Famer and three-time Rugby World Cup player, Pichot added: “I am excited to be joining the USA Rugby Board as World Rugby’s representative. Collectively, we are focused on making USA Rugby the best it possibly can be, providing foundations for sustainable participation, fan and commercial growth within one of the world’s most competitive and rewarding sports and entertainment markets.”

“As the World Rugby representative on the Board, I look forward to sharing my knowledge and providing access to World Rugby’s technical, development and governance expertise to provide the best-possible opportunity to the USA and cement its place as a major player in global rugby.”

As USA Rugby springboards into a new era, the presence of Pichot brings World Rugby experience and guidance to the organization and its members.

Editors notes

Pichot is a prominent business leader across sport, media and industry. As a player, he represented Argentina from U19 through the senior level, playing in three-consecutive Rugby World Cups. After a decorated 72-cap career, he was inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame in 2011. After retirement, Pichot became a member of the Argentinian Rugby Union (UAR), developing the High-Performance Committee and implementing strategic plans for the growing organization. Pichot was elected World Rugby Vice Chairman in 2016 and is also President of Rugby Americas.

*Nielsen market research undertaken in November 2017

USA Rugby welcomes U.S. Soccer CFO to leadership team

  • USA Rugby welcomes Eric Gleason as new CFO to the organization.
  • Gleason joins USA Rugby leadership after 10 years with U.S. Soccer.
  • Will target efficiencies in the NGB financial management and corporate governance.

LAFAYETTE, CO – USA Rugby today announced former U.S. Soccer Chief Financial Officer, Eric Gleason, to join the organization in the same role. Gleason brings a wealth of knowledge and experience with NGB financial management and hopes to support the progression of rugby in the same way soccer has grown nationwide.

“It’s an exciting time to join rugby and this presents a unique opportunity to leverage what I have learned while at U.S. Soccer,” said Gleason, “To guide the financial development and continued growth of the sport in the US is a journey I look forward to joining.”

Gleason will relocate from Chicago to USA Rugby headquarters in Colorado, targeting review of national office process and procedures, corporate governance and playing an integral role in strategic planning for the union’s future.

“On behalf of the rugby community, I want to welcome Eric to our leadership team,” said USA Rugby CEO, Ross Young, “Coming out of a comprehensive recruiting process, we very much look forward to working with him and together make an organizational impact on the union.”

Having been a fundamental influence in the growth of multiple programs at U.S. Soccer – working with both National teams and National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) – Gleason will be positioned within USA Rugby to apply the same influence on the rugby community.

Young continued, “Thank you to U.S. Soccer for working hand in hand with us and accommodating Eric’s new venture with our community.”

Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 sets new high and expectation in United States

Highest benchmark in American rugby history. It’s a bold statement, but reasonable none the less. Thanks to unwavering support and dedication, these remarkable few days in San Francisco can officially label the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018, historic.

Over 100,000 walked through the gates of AT&T Park, making it the highest attended rugby event in United States history. Setting the same record for past Rugby World Cup Sevens. Fans unable to join in San Francisco still found themselves apart of the journey as USA Rugby social media and digital metrics hit unique highs during the build up and tournament weekend. More than 4 million impressions were made while almost half a million Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube users engaged with tournament content on USA Rugby alone. Additionally, Rugby World Cup Sevens and USA Rugby launched a digital chatbot with tech company Wizeline to personally interact with fans on site and watching from afar.

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Television broadcast for Rugby World Cup Sevens was also record setting as NBC and NBC Sports Network reported over 8.7 million unique viewers through the span of the tournament. Tournament broadcasts on Saturday and Sunday also ranked as two of NBC’s three most watched rugby telecasts to date. Sunday viewership on NBC Sports Network peaked at 369,000 viewers – standing as the network’s most watched rugby telecast on record.

As the tournament passes, USA Rugby can now appreciate the impact made on American culture. Media coverage was record breaking as major outlets like NBC, New York Times, ESPN, CNN, Reuters, Cheddar and Team USA all brought a newfound exposure to the game and further introduced rugby to new audiences.

NBC Sports brought its rugby coverage beyond the pitch by airing “The Pioneers” as lead up to the tournament. Delivered by HSBC Sport, this landmark documentary following the Men’s Sevens aired during primetime on July 18th and has amassed nearly 180,000 views on YouTube. From quality content to premier broadcast, American rugby was given a well-deserved spotlight.

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While results on the pitch weren’t what the Men’s and Women’s Eagles Sevens had hoped for, each team put together an incredibly strong display where the overall victory for the sport was ultimately won. The Men placed 6th, marking their best result in a Rugby World Cup Sevens while the Women finished 4th having narrowly lost the bronze medal final.

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Regardless of results, each of the 40 teams in competition won the affection of their most important fans – the younger generation. Aspiring rugby players were able to tangibly see the spectacle of the sport as USA Rugby and Impact Beyond look to carry on that legacy. In tandem with Play Rugby USA, Rugby NorCal, USA Rugby Academy powered by Atavus and Playworks Northern California; Impact Beyond engaged nearly 22,000 youth and raised approximately $200,000 that will directly support greater Bay Area community programs and youth rugby development. Through the blueprint of this success, USA Rugby will look to replicate the legacy program in additional US markets.

For those who have loved and supported the sport for years, a new energy and passion has been lit within the community. For those newly introduced to rugby through the tournament, we collectively welcome you. As we look ahead to more domestic events like The Rugby Weekend, Glendale’s USA Women’s Sevens and annual USA Sevens in Las Vegas, there is still much to be excited about.

As a union, the ultimate message from USA Rugby is a sincere thank you. Thank you to World Rugby and tournament organizers for their dedication and trust in the United States rugby community. Thank you to the 40 Men’s and Women’s teams committed to competing in a World Cup. Lastly, thank you to each and every fan who purchased a ticket, tuned in, tweeted and shared their support of not only the tournament, but rugby as a whole. While the clock at AT&T Park has expired, a new era of American rugby is just beginning.

Hosts announced for 2017 USA Rugby Academy National Assessment Camps

SEATTLE – Eight sites will host a USA Rugby Academy National Assessment Camp (NAC) this fall and are now accepting applications from interested athletes.

Each one-day NAC will provide participants with a hands-on introduction to high-performance rugby. Players of all groups, from youth and age-grade to college and senior club, are encouraged to apply. Playing experience is not requires; participants may be new to rugby or experiences, including cross-over athletes wanting to give rugby a try. NACs are open to men and women, with separate camps conducted at the same venue. Participants must be at least 15 years of age to be eligible to attend.

Those accepted to an NAC will participate in a series of general skills, basic testing, and rugby activities led by USA Rugby national program coaches. The camps also serve as an opportunity for players to demonstrate their rugby potential. Those who show well put themselves in a position to receive an invitation to a Regional Training Camp, Resident Camp, and/or upcoming national pathway event. Local coaches are welcome to attend to either observe or assist.

For further information, please see:

Staff will review and approve all applications and provide further information on acceptance to the camp.

2017 Venues

Day/Date Participants Host Location
Sunday, Sept. 3 Men & Women Memphis Inner-City Rugby Memphis, TN
Sunday, Sept. 17 Men & Women Eckerd College St. Petersburg, FL
Sunday, Oct. 8 Men & Women Dragon Rugby Club Greenville, WI
Sunday, Oct. 8 Men & Women Kansas University RFC Lawrence, KS
Sunday, Oct. 15 Men & Women Cincinnati Wolfhounds Fairfield, OH
Saturday, Nov. 4 Men & Women McClatchy Rugby Club Sacramento, CA
Saturday, Nov. 11 Men & Women Maui Rugby Wailuku, Maui, HI
Sunday, Nov. 12 Men & Women Kalihi Rugby Honolulu, Oahu, HI

To apply / to recommend a potential athlete:

(Note: Staff will notify all applicants of acceptance to the camp and provide further details.)

Participation fee: $50.00 (payable upon acceptance to the NAC).

Typical NAC Schedule:

0:00-1:15 Warm-up/Basic Testing

1:15-1:45 Multi-Directional & Spatial Awareness Games

1:45-2:30 Skill-Based Activities & Progressions

2:30-3:00 Break

3:00-3:45 Skill-Based Activities (positional)

Applications now being accepted for NAC venues in 2018:

For more information, please contact Atavus Director of Rugby Operations Emilie Bydwell (, USA Rugby High Performance Talent Identification & Database Manager JD Stephenson (, or USA Rugby Women’s National Team Pathway Manager Tam Breckenridge (

World Rugby, NBC announce game-changing rights agreement for United States

World Rugby and NBC Sports Group have announced details of an unprecedented seven-year partnership for exclusive rights to present the world’s biggest international rugby events, including Rugby World Cup and Women’s Rugby World Cup.

The deal, the biggest of its kind for rugby rights in the USA, will cement NBC’s status as the destination for rugby in a nation where record participation and fan growth has anchored rugby as one of the hottest properties in the US sports market.

The exclusive rights feature the world’s most prestigious 15s and sevens events, including Rugby World Cup 2019 and 2023, Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 and 2021, Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 (in San Francisco) and 2022 and the annual World Rugby U20 Championship from 2017-23.

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Coast to coast programming, coupled with NBC’s award-winning multi-platform approach, will ensure an unprecedented platform for rugby to reach and engage more sports fans in a nation where the total fan-base has grown to more than 40 million, driven by rugby sevens’ highly-successful debut at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, another event presented by NBC across multiple platforms in the USA.

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When the Comcast-NBCUniversal transaction was completed in January 2011, the sports assets of the two companies combined to form NBC Sports Group, which serves sports fans 24/7 with premier live events, insightful studio shows, and compelling original programming. The sports media company consists of NBC Sports, NBC Olympics, NBCSN, Golf Channel, NBC Sports Regional Networks, NBC Sports Radio and NBC Sports Digital, which includes,,, the digital assets of the NBC Sports Regional Networks, Rotoworld, the NBC Sports Talk franchise, multiple apps, and two transactional sports businesses, GolfNow and SportsEngine. NBC Sports Group possesses an unparalleled collection of television rights agreements, partnering with some of the most prestigious sports properties in the world: the International Olympic Committee and United States Olympic Committee, the NFL, NHL, NASCAR, PGA TOUR, The R&A, PGA of America, Churchill Downs, Premier League, Tour de France, French Open, Formula One, IndyCar and many more.

New National Assessment Camps targeting athletes of varying experience

LAFAYETTE, Colo. – USA Rugby welcomes applications from individual teams or clubs, to local Unions or National Development Academies to host a one-day National Assessment Camp (NAC) in 2017.

The NACs are one-day, four-hour camps which are part of the USA Rugby Academy program in 15s and sevens at all levels, from youth and age-grade to college and senior club. These activities typically run four hours and are open to men and/or women ages 15 and older, including new and experienced players as well as cross-over athletes with no rugby experience.

Attendees who have been accepted to the NAC will participate in a series of general skills, basic testing, and activities. The NAC is an opportunity for players to demonstrate their rugby potential to High Performance staff. Those who show well put themselves in a position to receive an invitation to a Regional Training Camp, Resident camp, or upcoming national pathway event.

There is a minimum registration of 20 individuals for each NAC. USA Rugby will send staff from either/both the men’s and women’s national programs to lead the NACs. Applications to host an NAC solely for women, solely for men, or for both men and women (conducted separately at the same venue) will be accepted. Any profits generated from these events will be donated to the host club or organization in an effort to support local communities.

Local coaches are welcome to attend and assist. The NAC can be conducted on one field, grass or turf, lined for rugby. Posts are not required. An additional field or open area is useful but not necessary.

Typical Schedule (timeline can be adjusted to fit the availability of the venue).

0:00-1:00 – Warm-up/Basic Testing

1:00-1:45 – Multi-Directional & spatial awareness activities

1:45-2:45 – Skill-Based activities & progressions

2:45-3:15 – Break

3:15-4:00 – Skill-Based activities

If these criteria can be met and there is local interest to host an NAC please complete this short survey so the venue can be considered in our 2017 schedule:

The first NAC is scheduled for Saturday, May 20, at Seven Oaks Park in Columbia, S.C. To register for or refer an athlete to this event, please visit the registration links below.

Men’s South Carolina NAC registration >>

Women’s South Carolina NAC registration >>

For more information please contact Emilie Bydwell (, Director of Rugby Operations, Atavus; Dave Hodges (, General Manager Men’s 15s, USA Rugby; or Tam Breckenridge (, Women’s National Team Pathway Manager, USA Rugby.

Remembering Dana Bateman

The American rugby community and the game of rugby as a whole lost a passionate, driven, loving member in Dana Bateman over the weekend. The Eastern Pennsylvania Rugby Union secretary and former USA Rugby and Mid-Atlantic Rugby Football Union director passed away from a bout with cancer Saturday, April 29.

Dana Bateman began her rugby career in the 1970s and did not stop. USA Rugby is sad to hear of her passing and expresses its deepest condolences to her family and all those connected to her over the years. Information related to her services is forthcoming.

“The growth of American rugby comes down to the collective effort of individuals, and Dana was one of the most involved and caring members we’ve had since USA Rugby began in 1975,” USA Rugby Chief Executive Officer Dan Payne said. “She served each and every one of us every day for the better part of half a century. There’s nothing but admiration and appreciation for her contributions to the game and those whose lives she touched. We wish her family the best in this difficult time.”

[su_attention url=”” text=”Read more about Dana Bateman from EPRU President Frank Lentz”]