Glendale Becomes Langford of the South - Loses MLR Franchise But Gains National Men's XVs Team and National Governing Body
When I first read the press release from USA Rugby the similarities with Langford in Canada hit me. Langford is the home of the National Governing Body (NGB), Westhills Stadium has been the go to venue for the national team on many occasions. The national teams train in Langford.
In Canada all the national teams train at Langford, men's and women's, XVs and 7s. In the USA this recent announcement looks to effect the men's and women's XVs team at the current time. [ed. added women's XVs]
The Glendale Raptors dropped out of the MLR before the 2021 season but the mayor of Glendale had said he wanted to focus local rugby on supporting the men's national XVs team and now we know what he meant.
The big question for me is a portion of the fourth bullet point in the press release, the "city’s redirection toward national rugby development".
In Langford there's the Pacific Pride U23 Academy and it's possible Glendale may look at developing something similar. Glendale Mayor Mike Dunafon seems both politically and business savvy as he charts the future rugby direction for Glendale and Infinity Park.
Infinity Park was opened in 2007, Westhills Stadium opened 2009.
The Pacific Pride ran from 1996 to 2005 and was restarted in 2019.
One interesting side story will be watching how the amateur teams in the Glendale/Denver area align with the men's national XVs team and its development. Will aspiring players who don't get an MLR contract move to the Glendale/Denver area to be in the loop?
If you were to look at the big picture in Canada you could say a similar model was in place from 1996 to 2005 where local amateur teams supported national men's XVs development. Players from across Canada would move to BC during the winter BC Premier league to be in the loop and play against national team players. That model began to be neglected when Kieran Crowley (2008-2016) took over as head coach and the now defunct Canadian Rugby Championship (2009-2018) became the main selection tool for the national team.
Canada has dropped 9 ranking spots, 14 to 23, since 2008.
We'll watch with interest how the Glendale announcement not only changes the USA men's XVs program but also amateur rugby in the area and how the two interact.
NOTE: This article at YSCRugby
details how Glendale have cut funding for the local women's club teams and how it's related to the recent announcement. from USA Rugby
USA RUGBY AND CITY OF GLENDALE ELEVATE PARTNERSHIP; INFINITY PARK SLATED AS NATIONAL TRAINING CENTER FOR USA EAGLES XVs
- NGB headquarters moving to Glendale with Infinity Park set to host future national team test matches and assemblies.
- USA Rugby and the City of Glendale agree to new partnership where the NGB headquarters will move to Glendale, Colorado and assign Infinity Park as the National Training Center for USA Rugby Eagles XVs.
- Infinity Park to be preferred host venue for Men’s and Women’s National Team XVs test matches.
- Partnership aligned as part of the city’s redirection toward national rugby development, builds foundation for USA Rugby sustainability and mission towards progress.
Rugby and the City of Glendale have collaborated on a new partnership where the National Governing Body will relocate its headquarters to Glendale and establish Infinity Park as the official National Training Center for the Men’s and Women’s Eagles XVs. The partnership additionally includes use of Infinity Park as host venue for select USA test matches each year. Instituting Infinity Park as the National Training Center falls in line with the City of Glendale’s redirection toward direct development of the national rugby pathway. As USA Rugby and Infinity Park come closer together, combined resources and missions will open doors for rugby progress even beyond the National Team level.
“The City of Glendale and Infinity Park have been great partners with USA Rugby and we hope to strengthen the relationship moving forward,” noted USA Rugby CEO, Ross Young, “The ongoing reform of the organization requires USA Rugby to redevelop a sustainable operating model where we are grateful the city is open in support.”
As part of the partnership, Infinity Park will become the preferred host venue for Men’s and Women’s test matches with subsidized facility usage, supporting the opportunity for reinvested funds into those events and programs. In addition, USA Rugby will continue to host international and domestic events in multiple markets and key areas across the country. The Men’s and Women’s National Team XVs will additionally have unparalleled year-round use of the Infinity Park rugby facilities where team assemblies, training camps and individual athlete access will provide a home base for the Men’s and Women’s Eagles. The Elite Athlete Training Center in Chula Vista, CA will however continue to be headquarters for the Men’s and Women’s Eagles Sevens teams.
“This partnership with USA Rugby further confirms Glendale’s commitment to the sport of rugby, and specifically, to the development of US players,” stated Glendale Mayor Mike Dunafon, “We created RugbyTown USA to be the center of excellence for rugby, and we are excited to partner with USA Rugby in realizing that vision.”
Furthering the goal of national rugby development, the well-established youth programs at Infinity Park will begin to see new investment through the partnership. USA Rugby National Team athletes will have increased opportunities to interact, inspire and coach young rugby hopefuls during assemblies and events. Infinity Park and USA Rugby look forward to building a recurring curriculum around these opportunities.
Glendale City Manager Linda Cassaday added, “Our intent is to continue to build our youth program with more camps and more in-school development programs for both boys and girls. Our commitment to the sport of rugby has not changed, but our focus will now shift from a local to national perspective.”
USA Rugby, along with other International Unions, has witnessed an unprecedented time in the sport and culture. In an effort to strengthen the rugby values through partnership, USA Rugby is committed to furthering its diversity, equality and inclusion initiatives, which are aligned with the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, World Rugby and other sport governing bodies. USA Rugby will be initiating several diversity, equality and inclusion initiatives in conjunction with the Men’s and Women’s National Teams’ presence in the area.
“We look forward to using this partnership to foster the talents of our elite players and grow rugby through inclusive programs progressing long term success of the sport.” noted USA Rugby Independent Director, Julie Lau.
USA Rugby is ready to build on new foundations with the City of Glendale and Infinity Park over the coming years. Further information on upcoming USA Rugby events and activities at Infinity Park will be communicated to the public when available.