Update: USA Rugby posted a press release in response to the allegations by Doug Schoninger:
“USA Rugby categorically denies any and all allegations purported by PRO Rugby Tuesday, Dec. 20, and is saddened to hear of the planned termination of all valid contracts signed by athletes that have fulfilled their playing duties for season one and were scheduled to be paid through the duration of their 12-month contracts.”
It was officially announced today that PRO Rugby North America would terminate all activity. This came just a week after it was announced that the San Francisco Rush, one of the five teams that competed in the PRO Rugby’s only season, shutdown.
PRO Rugby owner, Doug Schoniger, sent a letter to the players today notifying them of their termination. Schoninger had found himself in the news for being in contention with several parties, including USA Rugby due to an interest in purchasing South African Super League team, Southern Kings and talks about professional rights to professional 15s rugby in the USA. He had created strife between himself and the surrounding rugby clubs in the California and Colorado area when dealing with the usage of players during spring matrix season. Additionally, he was rumored to be in contention with venues, staff, and players for non-payments for the work done this past spring.
The loss of the PRO Rugby North America league will mark another black mark in the historic attempts to create a professional rugby league in the USA. It now gets to be added to the list of several other attempts like, Super League and the NRFL. At this point the rugby community in the USA is back to the drawing boards on how to create a long term sustainable professional rugby competition. Until that moment, all that can be done is speculation into what went wrong, and how to rectify that.
Official date of termination for the league will be March 13, 2017
Schoninger termination letter below:
PRO Rugby Players,
As some of you may or may not know, we have been having serious issues with the cooperation and the enforcement of our agreement with USA Rugby. We have been actively trying to resolve our issues with USA Rugby for over four months and, unfortunately, it appears that USA Rugby will not honor the commitments they made to us.
Because of this, we are notifying all presently agreed players of PRO Rugby that we are exercising the Voluntary Termination clause in your contract (section 5(b)). We are hopeful, but with no assurances, that we will be able to resolve all issues with USA Rugby prior to end of the termination clause period. We will keep you up to date with any progress or news as it becomes available.
Please remember, until the end of the termination clause you are still an employee of PRO Rugby and all duties and obligations should be adhered to.
Because of the above, payment for the period ending on December 15th was delayed. These payments will be issued tomorrow, December 21st for receipt no later than December 22, 2016.
I am very sorry that we were forced to take this action and we are trying to do everything we can to ensure that PRO Rugby, its players, coaches, and employees are all treated fairly.