In Alex Goff’s recent Rugbymag.com article, I Was Wrong (3-6), the section I found most compelling was Alex’s call to bring back the National All Star Championship:
Meanwhile, Tolkin should bang the National All-Star Championship drum. Let’s get that done this year; four teams, eight teams. I don’t care, let’s just work an assembly of the best 100 or so rugby players in this country and get them playing against each other.
|Newly-named US Rugby Hall-of-Famer Ed Hagerty has been writing on American rugby since he helped found RUGBY Magazine almost 40 years ago. Hagerty has reported on thousands of rugby events, and was present at the last National All-Star Championships to be held, in 2007. Below are photos he took from that event.|
The National All Star Championship (NASC), which served as both a National Championship and Eagle selection vehicle for 28 consecutive years (1977 - 2006), was an all-inclusive and very democratic process. The NASC was an efficient, equitable and absolutely essential way of identifying and selecting our best players to the National Team in a country as huge as the US.
In addition to attracting the enthusiastic participation of the country’s most talented players, participation in the NASC was also prized by the best coaches and selectors from each of the 33 Local Area, and 7 Territorial Unions that comprised rugby in the US. The NASC’s democratic nature ensured participating players from every state in the country, a fair and clear pathway to the US National team.
Eliminating the National All Star Championship was a major blunder on the part of our CEO (Nigel Melville) and former National Coach (Eddie O'Sullivan). These men, both recent imports from countries the size of mid-sized US states, were ignorant of, or chose to ignore, the necessity of a tool such as the NASC to equitably screen and choose our best players in a country the size of the United States..
Eliminating the National All Star Championship deprived USA Rugby of a nationwide army of devoted coaches, selectors and scouts at the Local and Territorial Union levels who spent enormous amounts of time:
1) Searching out and testing the best talent in each local area union (e.g. Met New York) and then selecting a LAU all-star team.
2) Having their LAU (e.g. Met NY) face off against the other LAU (e.g. New England & Upstate NY) all star teams in their respective Territorial Union (e.g. Northeast) to form their Territorial Union All Star Team.
3) Comprehensive selection procedures and trials, similar to those utilized by the Northeast, were followed to form teams in each of the other 30+ Local Area and six Territorial Unions (Mid-Atlantic, South, Midwest, West, Pacific & Southern California) that comprise rugby in the United States.
The seven Territorial All Star teams, plus the Collegiate All Americans or a Combined Services team, played off annually at the National All Star Championship. At the weekend’s conclusion, the Eagle Coach and Selectors representing each of the eight teams convened and selected that year’s US National Team.
Very equitable, very democratic, very American!
The NASC’s comprehensive and democratic selection process brought a nationwide army of talented coaches, selectors and administrators into the scouting and selecting process, ensuring that every deserving player in the US had an on-field opportunity to make the US National Team.
It should never have been discontinued.
Bring it back as soon as possible.