Empire Donates to WRWC Pool Players

  • Apr 19,2017

April 19, 2017

The Rugby Breakdown (link to article)

Knight, center, during the 2017 Can Am Series in Chula Vista, Calif., /// Photo: Paul Rudman, KLC fotos (see more)


Phaidra Knight is a veteran of three Women’s Rugby World Cups (WRWCs), and so she is familiar with the life-work-rugby negotiations that occur in pursuit of representing one’s country. For many pool players, that balance is poised to be stressed, as June will kick off a series of camps, residency and a weeks-long World Cup in Ireland that will consume the summer – and vacation days and financial reserves. There’s a lot of off-field management that occurs behind the scenes, and some players are finding additional funding from friendly sources.


Knight is a member of the New York Rugby Club and plays alongside fellow WRWC pool players Alycia Washington and Tiffany Faaee during the Women’s Premier League season. New York is governed locally by the Empire Geographic Union (GU), where Ken Pape serves as president. Knight and Pape are USA Rugby Congress members, and they were two of several voices that raised serious questions about the equitable support of the WNT at the February Congress/USA Rugby board meeting. (Reference pages 3-5 and 13-14 of the minutes.)


So when Knight approached Pape about a possible donation for World Cup-vying members of the GU, she was well received. Knight and WNT coach Pete Steinberg called into an Empire board meeting and explained the financial burdens on the players and program.


The Empire GU board approved a $10,500 donation – $3,500 for the three New York players should they advance to residency.


“It’s incredible,” Knight effused. “In the past, we might have received $500 [from the former Met NY], and we were happy for whatever we could get. But I’ve never experienced this [level of support] before.”


The $3,500 figure isn’t a random one. The GU wanted to cover the difference in per diems between the men’s and women’s national teams. Pape explained that the men receive a $100 per diem, and the women receive a $60 per diem. That’s a $40 difference per day, $280 per week; multiply that by 12.5 weeks and that amounts to $3,500. 


Knight further clarified that WNT players receive a per diem only during the World Cup, whereas the Men's National Team players collect $100/day for every test assembly.


“It is definitely something I am very passionate about,” Pape said. “When I talked with the [Empire GU] board, they were 100% behind it. This is what I think is the best thing to do and hopefully other GUs and USA Rugby will follow.”


The overall support of the Women’s National Team is a larger, evolving concern that is under investigation. But while those issues work out, there are still players looking to make ends meet, and the Empire GU is hoping to inspire fellow GUs to make a statement of support with their dollars.