Sponsorship is one of the most talked about issues when in both amateur and professional sports. Amateur rugby is no different. Watch any game and you'll see a range of logos on most jerseys and shorts. Typically there's at least one local bar, an alcohol brand and a couple of builders or trades-people. That's the standard formula but there are obviously many variations. Sponsorship $$$ usually come from the club members and the old boys who have long since hung up the boots. Its an archaic system. Clubs find it difficult (if not impossible) to quantify the ROI of these investments and so the situation is really that sponsors are giving up cash for little to no material benefit. Yet they do it anyway, because they're great people who care about the game, the players and the organization.
But is this sustainable? We don't think so. If you're an established club, with a proud history and a constant influx of new members, it can definitely work. In rural Australia (Kiama Cows) and metropolitan Canada (Vancouver Rowing Club) I witnessed this. These clubs are able to attract members year in and year out because of the dedication of their stalwarts, prime real estate and loyal old boys. Most other clubs are not so lucky. And that's why I've spent the past 12 months quietly building Ruck Science.
Economics of Amateur Rugby
I have been involved with 5 amateur rugby clubs in 3 countries during my playing career. Aside from minor differences in history, culture and administration, they're remarkably similar organizations. Having spent 2 years as both a player and board member in my current club, I've come to realize that rugby club boards spend an inordinate amount of time organizing finances. Money is both the root of all evil and the life blood of every amateur rugby organization. Costs range from insurance to coaching and gear to referees. These costs are seldom fixed and major financial issues can arise at any moment. As with any relationship, money comes between club members, causes conflicts and fosters resentment. In the USA, club, college and high-school teams need to travel extensively to play games which puts a further strain on the purse strings. Without a constant, predictable flow of revenue, clubs die.
Time Poor, Cash Poor
Operating revenue isn't the only challenge. Most clubs are also under-staffed at an administrative level. This happens because the majority of tasks at the club are performed by volunteers who can only donate the time they have available outside of work. The result is that responsibilities are constantly being filtered into the hands of a very few dedicated members who are being stretched thin to cover them. There's no money to pay professionals and there's no time to do everything, so important tasks slip through the cracks.
I get fund-raising emails about 3 times a week with hair-brained ways for our club to raise money. But there's always a catch and its usually that our players need to spend time handing out flyers and coupons or selling sub-par merchandise to their friends and colleagues. Either that or the board needs to outlay thousands of $$$ for some pyramid-like scheme whose payoff isn't worth the risk. None of these makes sense. Rugby players, especially the younger ones who have yet to become immersed in the culture of club rugby don't want to do this shit. Sometimes you can get them to collect parking $$$, but even that's tough.
And can you blame them? Try telling a star college Football player to come try rugby and the first thing you do is give him a Square and 30 singles and tell him to stand by a gate. It's not glamorous and it doesn't give him or her the incentive to keep going with the game. Players are happy to support their clubs passively. But Gen-Yers like myself believe ourselves to be time-poor because we're disorganized. Having your board tell you where to be and what to do is like gaining a new set of parents. It makes us recoil and run.
What Would Be Great
As a club administrator, I can tell you that amateur rugby clubs need something that sounds too good to be true. Free Money. Yes, Free. No obligations, no commitments, no risk and no strings. Just a check in the mail and a note saying good luck with the season. Amateur rugby needs a sugar daddy. One who doesn't ask for anything in return. One who won't hold their help over you for a payoff down the road. One who doesn't even need public credit. One who gives because rugby is about inclusion, community and family.
Ruck Science's mission is to sponsor every rugby club on the planet. It's a challenge that with your support will allow rugby to grow into America's most popular amateur sport by the time the 2024 Olympics roll around. We will do this by providing a no-obligation source of revenue for every club. There will be no commitment on behalf of the club. You won't need to put our logo on your Jersey. You won't need to mention us on Facebook or Twitter. You don't even need to apply. Without you lifting a finger, your club just got a new sponsor. Expect your first check coming soon.
The Ruck Science store is open now will feature a range of products designed specifically for rugby players. Some of these products will be our own formulas. Some will be offered through key partnerships with like-minded businesses owned by other committed rugby players. The store will be accessible online and built using the most reliable merchant services and cyber-security technology. Our fulfillment team will ship all orders within 24 hrs and has capacity to handle multiple product lines.
That's the nuts and bolts. But how will this allow us to sponsor every rugby club on the planet? To make it simple...
Ruck Science will donate 10% of every order placed on our website to the rugby club of the customer's choice
If we ever start selling products at a retail location, we'll find a way to match orders to clubs as well. But for now, order anything you like and be assured that 10% of your order will make it back into your club to help pay for gear, jerseys, travel and more.
We have spent 12 months sourcing the highest-quality American-made nutritional products for the Ruck Science store. When we launch on July 15th, 2015 will be thrilled to provide 4 custom nutritional supplements designed for amateur rugby players. Those products will include the following:
- Rugby Whey - the whey protein for rugby
- Twitch Faster™ – the pre-workout for rugby
- No2 Max - the BCAA supplement for rugby
- 80 Brain™ - the brain supplement for rugby
But we won't be stopping there. In the Fall, Ruck Science will be releasing several nutritional and equipment products aimed at reducing the impact of concussions on players. By 2016, we will be expanding our range of nutritional products to include sleep and recovery formulas and multiple flavors of our existing blends.
All this and more is in our future. A future that looks bright for amateur rugby in America. On July 15th, our store will go Live and you'll be able to order from our initial range of products. If you're a committed rugby player, you likely use at least a couple of these formulas already. Please note that you do NOT need to be a rugby player to order from us. If your girlfriend, parents, colleagues or anyone else would like to place an order with us, they'll be helping to support your rugby club as well.