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Tulsa as Epicenter of USA Rugby Back
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Date: Saturday - 03.04.17

Ok, here is what I hope will wrap up my recent writings about the current USA Rugby landscape and our place in it. We’ve talked about the mess that Nigel Melville has left us in, RE: PRO, RIM, Rugby Channel, etc. Here, I’ll go into a bit of detail on how bad our financial situation is and how I think we can capitalize on that here in Tulsa to become the epicenter of rugby in the US.

USA Rugby experienced a financial crunch in 2016–2017, for many reasons including the following:

  • Bankruptcy of our kit sponsor BLK led to a significant loss of $

  • Our allotment from the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) is smaller this year because they have switched to heavier funding to Winter Olympic sports

  • World Rugby Grants are given in British Pounds and due to Brexit the value of the Pound has decreased. Thus we are out $1 million USD.

  • Financial mismanagement

We used to make money from events but we’ve sold off rights to USA 7’s (Vegas), we sold off exclusive rights to the potential of Professional 7’s (Grand Prix Entertainment), we sold off sanctioning rights to Professional XV’s in the USA to PRO for $1,000.  Wrap your mind around that, $1,000!

On top of losing the revenue mentioned above, all of our national teams were over budget last year. The Men’s Eagles XV’s being the biggest offenders coming in $1.2 million over budget. We also way overspent at the Olympics in Rio.  If we can’t EARN more money as USA Rugby then we need to SPEND less!  


I have a solution.

One of the big costs we incur is rent for our national governing body (NGB) headquarters and for the Olympic Training Center (OTC). Two things happened recently that got the wheels turning in my mind about the opportunity to bring both these entities into one home here in Tulsa.

  • The USAR national office was headquartered in Boulder, CO. for many years. Last year it was relocated to Lafayette, a Boulder suburb, as a cost saving measure. I was told by a Congress member that USAR was interested in moving again to a location that had practice facilities on site.

We’ve already seen this transition have an effect as USA BMX moved from Chula Vista to Tulsa.

In order to get our name on the National offices radar I've made the introductions and begun the conversation with USA Rugby and the Tulsa Sports Commission about hosting one of the America’s Rugby Championship (ARC) matches in Tulsa at ONEOK Field. Last month there were two ARC matches hosted in the US in San Antonio and Round Rock, TX. The San Antonio match vs. Uruguay was played at Toyota Field, the 8,000 seat home of the San Antonio Scorpions Football Club. It drew  less than 3,000 fans. The following weekend the Eagles hosted Brazil at Dell Diamond stadium in Round Rock, an 11,000 seat AAA baseball stadium 30 minutes outside of Austin. Attendance records show there were about 6,500 tickets sold at this match.  I believe ONEOK, a 7,500 seat stadium in the heart of downtown Tulsa, is more attractive than either of these locations.  

Hosting an event like this can really give us momentum for growth and act as a first step in the push for the NGB HQ and OTC. BMX successfully hosted the Grand Nationals in Tulsa for years, and now, following the latest Vision Tulsa tax initiative, they have a $15 million, taxpayer funded, NGB Headquarters, Hall of Fame and Olympic Training Center, here in Tulsa. We could piggyback on this initiative and build a real multi-sport Olympic Village in Tulsa.

How can we pull this off and continue to grow rugby in the region?

  • We need to streamline all the local rugby organizations

  • We need to collaborate to grow and develop the sport

  • We need to engage the business people within our community to help us commercialize and professionalize

We need to get everyone pulling on the same rope. Each of us can be a driving force for the future of rugby in this community. Anyone who has achieved some degree of personal or professional success because of the impact rugby has had on your life, it’s time to reconnect with the community and apply some of your time, your unique skills, contacts, and resources to the cause. It’s time for everyone to bind on and drive forward!

If you want to be a part of these efforts, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Luke Turner | President | Tulsa Rugby Club |918-344-2212

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