SBD/April 19, 2017/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Professional Rugby Organization's Second Season In Doubt Amid Financial Troubles

The Professional Rugby Organization (PRO), North America’s first pro outfit to be sanctioned by USA Rugby, debuted a "year ago this week," yet there has been no announcement for a second season due to "politics, money, and trails of alleged broken promises amid unvarnished ill will," according to Tod Leonard of the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE. San Diego Breakers coach Ray Egan said, "It’s just a matter of everyone getting around a table and agreeing about a way to move forward and how best to support each other, rather than saying, ‘What’s in it for me?’" Leonard noted at the center of the issue is PRO Founder & CEO Doug Schoninger, who said that he has been "shut out of talks with USA Rugby while hearing persistent rumors of other teams and leagues hoping to make professional inroads" in the U.S. USA Rugby has "acknowledged discussions with Pro12, the European professional league, about putting a team in a city on the East Coast, while the Austin Huns, a successful program in Texas, are talking about forming their own pro league." That is "unacceptable to Schoninger," who a year ago committed $7-8M for the first season, with plans to "spend as much as" $25-30M in the first three years. Schoninger: “There’s really been a switch in their thought process about how they think rugby should grow in America, and I think they’re wrong. They are 100-percent wrong" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 4/18). 
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