RUGBY COMMUNITY MOURNS THE PASSING OF LEGEND, A. JON PRUSMACK

A. Jon Prusmack, a successful entrepreneur of many companies, and the respected and admired owner of United World Sports (USA Sevens, Collegiate Rugby Championship, Rhino Rugby USA, and Rugby Today), died on Friday. He was 77.

He had battled cancer for many years.

He is survived by his wife, Patrice.

It is a sad day for worldwide rugby to lose this innovative visionary, who, for more than fifty-years devoted his life to expand rugby in the USA, a sport that he played and loved. From 1968 when he published the first Scrumdown magazine, to building the USA Sevens and to the concept of Super 7s Rugby professional league, he endeavored to pioneer commercial models in original, American operated rugby businesses.

Prusmack’s rugby career started out with Westchester RFC in the mid -1960s at a time when rugby flourished in New York City with five local clubs (New York RFC, Old Blue RFC, Manhattan RFC, Old Maroon RFC, and Westchester) organizing multiple sides weekly. Then in 1973, he performed double duty playing two matches per week during the New York Athletic Club’s introductory rugby season. He would go on to coach and referee for many years.

In 1975, he launched Scrumdown in newsprint, and, that year, hired Ed Hagerty to become Editor while retaining the Publisher role. The publication changed its name to Rugby in 1976, becoming the singular and official voice of US rugby news and information, and, importantly, connecting the American rugby community. Prusmack and Hagerty were elected to the US Rugby Hall of Fame in 2013 for their decades of media contribution.

In 1979, he wrote Rugby: A Guide for Players, Coaches, and Spectators, the first book about the sport published in the United States.
In the early 1980s, he wanted to try a different business from years of commercial graphic design. A Westchester club teammate offered the export sales rights to the Middle East for a hospital disposable pack company. Finally, after six futile months he scheduled a sales call with a distributor in Saudi Arabia. At a hotel cocktail lounge in Riyadh, he met two British businessmen where the conversation turned to rugby. Prusmack always credited the serendipitous bond with these rugbymen who provided savvy cultural advice about doing business in an Arab country.  The disposable business sales grew incrementally, expanding into a full line of medical procedure trays.

Many years later, this Saudi distributor would ask Prusmack the one question that would change his life. “Can you create a field hospital for our annual haj for the many millions of pilgrims who come to Mecca?” The available tents at that time were old, bulky, and time consuming to erect.

He decided to create a new tent model.  With a vital suggestion about support struts from his wife Patti, also a graphic designer, he designed a prototype of the world’s first, quick to assemble shelter tent, which required no tools to set up.

Founded in 1986, the company was named Deployable Hospital Systems. Later, it changed to D.R.A. Shelter (DRASH) as its field applications expanded beyond medical services to command and control functions. It took almost a decade to turn a profit, eventually, generating sales of over $150 million annually. Prusmack never faltered in his belief that hard work and dedication to a creative idea would lead to success.

DRASH employed 300 employees, the second highest manufacturing total in Rockland County, New York. The company operated sales, support, and training offices throughout the country, and many international offices.

With the success of a thriving and highly profitable military shelter business, Prusmack offered significant financial gifts to the rugby programs at West Point and Annapolis. He provided a pitch – Warrior Field – to the Army’s new rugby facility in 2007. At his alma mater, the Naval Academy in 2016, he funded the Prusmack Rugby Complex that features two parallel fields with back to back bleacher stands.

Prusmack realized an opportunity to return to a rugby-oriented business venture when the USA Rugby Organization decided to sell the ownership to the USA Sevens. He bought the rights in 2005 and moved the tournament from Los Angeles to San Diego in 2007. He also bought back total ownership in Rugby magazine, and mounted ERugbyNews.com, an online rugby publication.  (Currently, www.RugbyToday.com). The new rugby entity was called United World Sports (UWS).

The World Rugby HSBC sponsored USA 7s moved to Las Vegas in 2009 where it proved a financial success story, attracting many thousands of fans. The Las Vegas tournament will celebrate its tenth anniversary in early March 2019.

Prusmack had a vision that college rugby would be the pathway for successful national teams. He invested in the creation of a new event to showcase college sevens in 2010. This is now named the Penn Mutual Insurance Collegiate Rugby Championship, or CRC. The tournament found a home outside Philadelphia where it’s played every June. Many present and past USA 7s Eagles premiered publicly at this televised event.

The burgeoning interest in sevens rugby paraded the USA’s Men and Women’s stars at the USA Sevens and at the CRC, making, rugby the fastest growing team sport in the United States. Another reason for the increase in players nationally is that Prusmack spearheaded putting rugby on national television, first with NBC and now ESPN

Prusmack was voted into the NYAC Rugby Hall of Fame and the US Naval Academy Rugby Hall of Fame.

Academically, he transferred from the Naval Academy to New York University where he received a BA degree in Art and Mathematics. He was voted most valuable player on the NYU football team. Later, he earned two MS Degrees in Engineering from Polytechnic University in New York. He also holds an MBA from Bernard Baruch Graduate School of Business.

Prusmack served as a board member of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Small Business Council, the Rockland County Economic Development Corporation, and was on the Board of Trustees for Dominican College, New York. The university named its new Health and Science Education Center the Prusmack Center in recognition of the significant donation from the Prusmacks.

He was named a member of the Business Institute’s Excellence Hall of Fame in December 2015. In January 2016, he was the Hall of Fame’s inaugural member and he was inducted on February 19, 2016.

Prusmack was an accomplished painter and printmaker. His early football-to-rugby posters have been sold for years in Rugby Magazine. He was Treasurer of the Salmagundi Club, one of the oldest and most prestigious art institutions in New York City, dating back to 1871. Art remained his hobby and passion.

An associate said of Prusmack, “He created canvases of business in his mind.” He embodied the true entrepreneurial spirit, generously seeding projects with investment and advice.  He will be remembered as a gentleman, affable and kind, who always exuded optimism.

The American rugby community has lost a good friend who embodied the love of the game. It is a truism that he was responsible for rugby’s newfound popularity.  All who knew A. Jon Prusmack will conduct a memorial service in their hearts and this tribute will last forever.

Penn Mutual to Title Sponsor the Collegiate Rugby Championship and Varsity Cup Rugby Championship

Sponsorship driven by sport’s increasing popularity, solidifies Philadelphia as the home of collegiate rugby

Horsham, Pa. – September 15, 2014 – The Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company, United World Sports and NBC Sports Group have announced a three-year title sponsorship for the Collegiate Rugby Championship, the largest Rugby 7’s (7 players a side) collegiate rugby championship in the United States. The Collegiate Rugby Championship, which takes place at PPL Park in the Philadelphia metropolitan area, will now be called ”The Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship.” In addition, Penn Mutual has committed to be the title sponsor for The Varsity Cup, the national collegiate championship of the 15-a-side rugby format. The Varsity Cup, which is played at Rio Tinto Stadium in Salt Lake City, will now be named “The Penn Mutual Varsity Cup.”

Penn Mutual is committed to work with UWS and NBC Sports Group to establish the Collegiate Rugby Championship as an iconic world-class Philadelphia-based sports event, on par with national championships in other major sports in the United States.

According to Jonathan First, President of United World Sports, “This sponsorship establishes rugby, which is now the fastest growing sport in America, as a powerful corporate marketing and branding tool – one with the same cache of soccer, appealing to an American market comprised, in part, of business leaders and decision makers. We congratulate Penn Mutual on their forward-looking decision, and we’re eager to help them connect their brand with our audience of devoted fans, dedicated players and quality institutions from around the country.”

“Our sponsorship is part of a long-term business-building strategy to extend the Penn Mutual brand to consumers, financial professionals, and student athletes,” says Eileen McDonnell, Penn Mutual’s Chairman, President & CEO. “Like rugby, Penn Mutual enjoys a long and esteemed history–167 years of service to our policyholders. And, like rugby, we are more cutting edge than ever, having doubled our market share since the financial crisis of 2008. Rugby provides a clean slate for us to share our optimistic view of how life insurance not only protects, but also allows people to do more in life and leave a lasting legacy. The sponsorship also gives us the opportunity to attract new talent by gaining exposure to the student athletes of major national colleges and universities. All of us at Penn Mutual are excited about the possibilities afforded by The Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship and The Penn Mutual Varsity Cup.”

Rugby 7s returns to the Olympic Games in 2016, following an 84-year hiatus, where the United States will defend its gold medal from the 1924 Olympics in Paris. The Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship is part of a nationwide effort to build American rugby talent in preparation for the Olympics. In the past three years, the Collegiate Rugby Championship has produced 15 players who have gone on to play for the U.S. National teams. In the 2014 Collegiate Rugby Championship, 20 of the top colleges and universities competed for the title, including Penn State, Notre Dame, Texas, Michigan, Navy, Ohio State and reigning national champion, The University of California Golden Bears. Beginning in 2015, a portion of Penn Mutual’s sponsorship investment will be awarded to the winning team, the proceeds of which will be used to build the team’s rugby program on-campus.

For its participation, Penn Mutual will tell its story to millions of Americans through TV exposure on NBC, NBCSN, Universal Sports Network, Comcast SportsNet, in-event branding, online and digital marketing, and through localized and national promotions and events throughout the year.

“We’re thrilled to have Penn Mutual join our partnership with United World Sports in support of the Collegiate Rugby Championship and The Varsity Cup,” said Jon Miller, President, Programming, NBC Sports Group. “We believe Penn Mutual’s support will aid in the growth and popularity of these events, and the sport of rugby across the U.S.”

According to McDonnell, “This sponsorship squarely provides Penn Mutual with a smart, effective way of reaching a vital new audience that can benefit from the power of life insurance as well as the career opportunities it offers.”

About The Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company
Since its founding in 1847, Penn Mutual has been driven by its noble purpose to create a world of possibilities. At the heart of this purpose is the belief that purchasing life insurance is the most protective, responsible and rewarding action a person can take, and is central to a sound financial plan. The company is committed to helping individuals, families and small businesses unlock life’s possibilities through life insurance and annuity solutions. This is accomplished through a national network of more than 5,000 financial professionals, who help clients make great things possible. Penn Mutual supports its field representatives with brokerage services through Hornor, Townsend & Kent, Inc. Registered Investment Advisor and wholly owned subsidiary. Member FINRA/SIPC. Visit Penn Mutual on the Internet at http://www.pennmutual.com/.

About United World Sports
United World Sports (UWS) is the largest commercial rugby entity in the United States, and the owner and operator of a growing portfolio of dynamic sports, media and apparel brands including, the USA Sevens Rugby international tournament, the largest professional rugby event in North America; the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship, the premier college 7s rugby championship; and the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Championship, the 15s national rugby championship. Through its apparel division, UWS owns the exclusive North and South American license for Rhino Rugby, one of the world’s leading rugby apparel and equipment brands. UWS also owns and operates RugbyToday.com, the largest and most widely read media destination dedicated to American rugby. For more information about UWS and its properties, visit: http://www.unitedworldsports.com

ABOUT NBC SPORTS GROUP
When the Comcast-NBCUniversal transaction was completed in January 2011, the sports assets of the two companies combined to form NBC Sports Group, which serves sports fans 24/7 with premier live events, insightful studio shows, and compelling original programming. The sports media company consists of a unique array of broadcast television, cable television, radio and digital sports assets, including NBC Sports, NBC Olympics, NBCSN (NBC Sports Network), Golf Channel, 11 NBC Sports Regional Networks, NBC Sports Radio and NBC Sports Digital.

Contact: Kim Harmsen Keith Bratz
Gregory FCA Penn Mutual
(610) 228-2134 (215) 956-7907
Kim@GregoryFCA.com bratz.keith@pennmutual.com

Joe Favorito Jamie Palatini
UWS Public Relations NBC Sports Group
(201) 746-0005 (203) 356-2791
fatherknickerbocker1@yahoo.com Jamie.palatini@nbcuni.com

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UWS partners with NDP Championships to create The Sevens Championship

DENVER, Colorado – NDP Championships, a division of Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, and United World Sports (UWS) announced today a national partnership centered around the formation of The Sevens Championship as the first-ever youth and high school rugby sevens North American championship tournament. The Sevens Championship, which will be held annually in Florida from December 29-31, will be a USA Rugby sanctioned event featuring the top boys’ and girls’ pre-collegiate rugby teams in the nation.

“This is a monumental day for rugby, as The Sevens Championship will redefine the sport’s competitive landscape,” said Steve Govett, president of NDP. “We couldn’t have found a better partner for this event and concept than UWS.”

The inaugural event will welcome the sport’s top teams through an At-Large application process. A qualification format similar to what NDP currently uses for its lacrosse property, the DICK’S Sporting Goods Tournament of Champions presented by Pasco County, will be unveiled next year.

“The dedication of NDP to grow and develop the sport of the lacrosse in standards of play, participating numbers, and a business model workable for teams and tournaments caught our eye early on,” said UWS Vice President Dan Lyle. “With Kroenke Sports & Entertainment sharing the same goals when it comes to developing rugby and giving the sport a new platform, the partnership was a natural fit.”

The Olympic debut of the sport in 2016 has significantly increased its popularity and national media coverage. The Sevens Championship will offer the nation’s best youth and high school players the opportunity to compete on rugby’s grandest stage.

For more information on The Sevens Championship, including At-Large application information, visit TheSevensChampionship.com or call 303-575.1902.

About NDP Championships

NDP Championships is a wholly owned and operated division of Kroenke Sports & Entertainment (KSE). Founded in 2003 by lacrosse legend Gary Gait and acquired by KSE two years later, NDP is an event management company that operates tournaments and other special events throughout the United States. Its current lacrosse footprint is the largest in the nation, featuring more than 100,000 players annually.

About United World Sports

United World Sports (UWS) is the owner and operator of a growing portfolio of dynamic sports event, media and apparel brands. Its flagship sports event property is the USA Sevens Rugby Tournament held annually in Las Vegas. This exciting 16-nation, three-day tournament has become the largest attended rugby event in North America with more than 70,000 fans coming to Las Vegas annually. Broadcast live on NBC Sports the tournament serves as the only U.S. stop on a nine-city world tour and reaches more than 387 million television households worldwide.  Additional UWS event properties include the College Rugby Championship (CRC) and Varsity Cup National 15s Rugby Championship, both of which are broadcast on NBC, as well as the Las Vegas Invitational, America’s Rugby Seven’s Cup and Pro Soccer Challenge. Through its apparel division, UWS owns the exclusive North and South American license for Rhino Rugby, one of the world’s leading rugby apparel and equipment brands. UWS also owns and operates RugbyToday.com, the largest and most widely read media destination dedicated to American rugby.

Varsity Cup Adds Arizona State

Tweet It: @varsity_cup adds @asurfc (Arizona State) to the Varsity Cup Championship.

New York, NY – The Varsity Cup announced Thursday that Arizona State University will join its national collegiate rugby championship postseason in the spring of 2015.

“On behalf of the Varsity Cup universities and our commercial partner, United World Sports, I offer a sincere welcome to Arizona State,” said Varsity Cup founder and Brigham Young head coach David Smyth. “The Sun Devils are a rugby program on the rise, with strong support from their administration and local community. They will be another natural fit for the Varsity Cup.”

The addition of the Sun Devils brings to 14 the number of teams in the Varsity Cup, a single-elimination postseason tournament that began in 2013 with eight programs. Four more joined to create a 12-team field in the 2014 edition, and the decision by ASU follows the same move by Arkansas State earlier this summer to join BYU, Cal, Utah, UCLA, Navy, Dartmouth, Notre Dame, Texas, Air Force, Central Washington, Clemson and Oklahoma in next spring’s premier postseason for collegiate 15s. Together, the Varsity Cup field represents 31 of the 33 national collegiate champions crowned by USA Rugby and 69 of its final-four teams from the 1980 through 2012 postseasons.

The Sun Devils’ 133 team national championships all-time make ASU one of the most accomplished sporting universities in the United States. Rugby’s reentry as a medal sport at 2016 Summer Olympic Games adds further weight to the move by Arizona State, which has produced 160 Olympians since 1952.

Said Ray Anderson, Director of Athletics at ASU, “We are excited about the opportunity for our rugby team and pleased about Arizona State’s inclusion in the Varsity Cup, where the program will compete among the sport’s elite.”

Rugby was inaugurated at ASU in 1975 and has regularly ranked in the Top 25 in the country under head coach Gary Lane. “We are building for our future and see our inclusion as a necessary aspect of our development,” Lane said. “In recent years, we declined invitations to participate in the USA Rugby postseason and it was always our hope to receive a Varsity Cup place.”

Sun Devils fullback Adam Sandstrom, having just completed a national team trial at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., said, “I am confident that our team will rise to the occasion this season and in the years to come, proving that we are able to compete with the best teams in the country.”

About The Varsity Cup Rugby National Championship

The Varsity Cup is America’s top collegiate postseason national championship. The mission of the Varsity Cup is to grow American rugby by harnessing the collective strength of collegiate rugby and collegiate sport in general. The Varsity Cup features the most recognized and accomplished university rugby programs in the country, vying for the right to be named the collegiate 15s Varsity Cup National Champions.

About United World Sports

United World Sports (UWS) LLC hosts a dynamic line up of emerging sports properties and has quickly become the leader at delivering premier international sports properties to U.S. audiences. UWS’ flagship property is the USA Sevens Rugby Tournament held annually in Las Vegas. This exciting 16-nation, three-day tournament has become the largest attended rugby event in North America with more than 70,000 fans coming to Sam Boyd Stadium. Broadcast live on NBC Sports the tournament serves as the only U.S. stop on a nine-city world tour and reaches more than 350 million television households worldwide. Additional UWS properties include the Las Vegas Invitational, America’s Rugby Seven’s Cup, the College Rugby Championship (CRC), the Varsity Cup and the Pro Soccer Challenge.

Arkansas State joins Varsity Cup

Tweet It: @varsity_cup announces the addition of @ASTATERUGBY (Arkansas State) to the Varsity Cup Championship. http://bit.ly/1lCYewd

New York, NY – The Varsity Cup is pleased to announce that Arkansas State will be the newest addition to the national championship competition.

For the second time in two years, the Varsity Cup will be expanding. The competition will be moving from a 12-team format to a still undetermined larger tournament. “The Varsity Cup is being very selective in our expansion plans, we want the best performing teams which have established institutional support. Arkansas State is a very good example of this expansion standard,” stated David Smyth, Head Coach of National Champions’ Brigham Young University.

One of US rugby’s finest rugby programs, Arkansas State has made deep runs in the US rugby collegiate post-season over the last six consecutive seasons. The Red Wolves played a thrilling contest in the 2012 National Championship Final, a back and forth affair, before BYU defeated Arkansas State 49-42 for the national championship. Arkansas State is also a highly accomplished sevens team, having won consecutive USA Rugby Championships.

A relatively young program, the Arkansas State rugby team has been operating for 20 years. Over that time, the team has had 18 All-Americans.

Second year coach, Mani Delaibatiki, leads the Red Wolves. A native of Hamilton, New Zealand, Delaibatiki has been playing and coaching rugby for over 20 years and recently left Palmer College of Chiropractic to coach at Arkansas State. He took over the program founded by, Curt Huckaby, whose culmination of hard work and dedication has led to the development of the rugby program.

Due to Huckaby’s vision, Arkansas State University has been highly supportive of the program.

The Red Wolves are taking the next step in their rugby development by joining the Varsity Cup, a decision that was endorsed by the university. “Joining the Varsity Cup was strongly encouraged and supported by the Arkansas State University administrators. As a school, we are excited about this new venture because it gives us an opportunity to compete at the highest level of collegiate rugby, a challenge that we welcome and are excited about being a part of,” continued Delaibatiki.

Although Arkansas State has benefited from its current situation and competition in the USA Rugby post-season, the university determined that it was in the program’s best interest to join the Varsity Cup. Delaibatiki added that, “with the current makeup of the program, Arkansas State fits within the culture of the Varsity Cup and the teams that participate.”

“I have the type of players that know what it takes to compete, and will do all they can to get there. We are excited about this new post-season direction and challenge we are taking come spring 2015.”

With a history of success and campus support, Arkansas State is a strong addition to the Varsity Cup.

About The Varsity Cup Rugby National Championship

The Varsity Cup is America’s top collegiate postseason national championship. The mission of the Varsity Cup is to grow American rugby by harnessing the collective strength of collegiate rugby and collegiate sport in general. The Varsity Cup features the most recognized and accomplished university rugby programs in the country, vying for the right to be named the collegiate 15s Varsity Cup National Champions.

About United World Sports

United World Sports (UWS) LLC hosts a dynamic line up of emerging sports properties and has quickly become the leader at delivering premier international sports properties to U.S. audiences. UWS’ flagship property is the USA Sevens Rugby Tournament held annually in Las Vegas. This exciting 16-nation, three-day tournament has become the largest attended rugby event in North America with more than 70,000 fans coming to Sam Boyd Stadium. Broadcast live on NBC Sports the tournament serves as the only U.S. stop on a nine-city world tour and reaches more than 350 million television households worldwide. Additional UWS properties include the Las Vegas Invitational, America’s Rugby Seven’s Cup, the College Rugby Championship (CRC), the Varsity Cup and the Pro Soccer Challenge.