Some might think it’s a good example of thinking outside the box. But many see it as just another example of a governing body that has lost touch with its member clubs.
The sum involved is around £500,000. That’s relatively small for an organisation that declared turnover of £57.2 million in 2017-18.
However, it is more than any player in Scotland earns. And, as the European Champions Cup exits of Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh showed, both need to strengthen their squads.
Scottish Rugby’s autocratic approach to management has come in for criticism. And the decision to take a stake, widely reported to be around 30%, has attracted further flak.
Old Glory DC, based in Washington, will play in an expanded 12-team MLR competition from February 2020.
Scottish Rugby will provide a combination of financial and rugby support, and its Chief Operating Officer, Dominic McKay sit on the Old Glory board.
The governing body has previously provided financial backing for London Scottish and for French clubs, Nice and Lille. All are used to help develop young Scottish talent. It is envisaged that that will also be the case with the American tie-up.
Scottish Rugby this week revealed what it described as the first positive evidence of the investment.
Scotland’s Under 20s will spend a week in the United States preparing for the upcoming World Championships in Argentina. The camp will include a warm-up fixture against Old Glory DC on Memorial Day, 27 May.
That is undoubtedly positive news. However, it will take more than a friendly fixture to silence some of the doubters.
Scottish Rugby owns both of Scotland’s professional teams. Supporters will certainly take a bit of convincing. They would rather see the money that is heading across the Atlantic spent on new signings.
Written by Colin Renton