imagine rugby growth initiatives

Growth Initiatives

In 2021, Major League Rugby (MLR) and USA Youth & High School (YHS) signed a Memo of Understanding that identified several “Growth Initiatives” that will be our focus as we move towards the 2031 and 2033 Rugby World Cups. These include:

Women’s Rugby

Expanding women’s rugby is a critical part of our overall growth strategy. YHS and US Rugby Foundation already have a grant program in place that can help create new High School clubs, while Imagine Rugby is focused on the Community College level. Our intention is to collectively establish a complete pathway from the youth, through High School and into the Community Colleges for female rugby players.

Adding Community College teams – especially through the athletic departments – should create a demand on youth/High School leagues to supply incoming players. SYROs are encouraged to leverage these new numbers into their High School Varsity efforts.

Additionally, increasing numbers of women will be graduating/transferring out of the Community Colleges and into University programs. Our intention is to work with NIRA and USA Rugby to strategically align these efforts to help achieve NCAA Championship status for Women’s Rugby.

New High School Team Fund

In March 2022, YHS announced a grant program to fund 20 new High School programs across the country. This program is administered by YHS and funded by the US Rugby Foundation.

The Rugby Network

In April 2022, an agreement was signed that made The Rugby Network (TRN) the official streaming partner for YHS. For the 2022-2023 season, The Rugby Network will stream these elite High School competitions:

5/6/23:           Texas State Championships

5/26-28/23:   Boys (Club and Single School) National Championships

5/27-28/23:   Boys and Girls Ohio State Championships (Semi-Finals)

6/3/23:           Boys and Girls Ohio State Championships (Finals)

6/3/23:           Wisconsin State Championships

YHS is currently working with the State Youth Rugby Organizations (SYROs) to identify additional programing for 2023 on The Rugby Network. If you have a competition you would like to be considered, please contact your local SYRO or YHS Regional Representative.

Registration Platform

In September of 2022, YHS successfully converted to the Rugby Xplorer registration platform. While this system provides more functionality and a better user experience, it also allows us access to registration data on a much more robust level. For the first time, we are able to analyze data on a state, gender and age grade level which gives us the ability to calculate the effectiveness of our youth efforts. We now have the flexibility to see what works, what areas need more support, and increase the effectiveness of our programming.

Coaching Platform

In February 2023, YHS released their flagship coaching platform, presented by Major League Rugby, and is available for FREE to all registered coaches of YHS. This system was designed by 6 Degree Sports and is the same platform used in Australia by the New South Wales Waratahs. This program has a library of videos and allows YHS coaches design real time practice plans, as well as allows players to view the videos to hone their skills.

For the first time, EVERY youth coach in the country can access top-level professional materials. If used to it’s potential, this program should rapidly raise the quality of youth coaching and play across the United States.

To learn how to access this platform, please click here.

PE Flag Rugby

This program is a partnership between Imagine Rugby, MLR, YHS, USA Rugby and World Rugby. We are relaunching the Imagine Flag Rugby program and have developed a strategy to incorporate flag rugby into the PE curriculum of 50,000 schools before the 2031 World Cup. Additionally, we are working with 3rd party / afterschool programs to incorporate flag rugby into their existing infrastructure.

Our goal is to create an integrated pathway from PE class, through afterschool / 3rd party programming into SYRO clubs. Our target is a 10% conversion rate from the PE classes to SYRO programming which, if we meet our targets, will result in over 1M new youth rugby players.
For additional information on these efforts, please visit the Youth Programming page of the website.

Urban Rugby Programs

Imagine Rugby is starting to coordinate with several Urban Rugby organizations, including Rugby LA, which was born out of the Los Angeles Giltinis youth efforts. Our strategy is still being developed, but our goal is to create pathways for these athletes from youth programming, through High School and Community College and into University programs

In 2022, the first Urban Rugby Championship was held by Memphis Inner-City Rugby Club. Rugby LA hosted this year’s tournament to coincide with the LA Sevens Event. Fourteen teams participated in the event (8 boys and 6 girls) and with 210 athletes.