Jamie Burke and Denis Shanagher Appointed to USA Rugby Board of Directors

USA Rugby Release

  • USA Eagles Jamie Burke and Denis Shanagher appointed to USA Rugby Board of Directors by International Athlete Council.
  • Previous representatives Phaidra Knight and Kevin Swiryn complete transitional period and tenure as Directors.
  • USA Rugby Board holds Q3 Meeting for first assembly post-bankruptcy.

GLENDALE, CO – The USA Rugby Board of Directors congregated for their Q3 meeting last week to review current matters of the union and officially seat new International Athlete representatives Jamie Burke and Denis Shanagher. Burke and Shanagher are the final two of four International Athlete representatives who join Shalom Suniula and Irene Gardner on the Board. Former athlete directors Phaidra Knight and Kevin Swiryn depart the leadership group following a transitional period.

“Last week was a noteworthy meeting as the Board’s first official review post Chapter 11 bankruptcy,” said USA Rugby CEO Ross Young, “The group carried welcomed optimism as we have clear sights on the renewed future of USA Rugby.”

“I want to personally thank the new community and athlete members for their constructive support, and of course Phaidra and Kevin for their long-standing commitment on the Board and to the game through these extraordinary times.”

Swiryn joined the Board in September of 2019 while Knight has been seated since 2017. Knight led a number of initiatives as part of leadership, including the development of the USA Rugby Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, geared towards reforming union policy to better represent a diverse community. Swiryn additionally provided fundamental support to the recent governance reorganization and insurance policies.

“The last 3+ years have been incredibly challenging, but I am grateful to have had the opportunity to serve our Union,” noted Knight, “I look forward to watching what the incoming athlete representatives are able to accomplish during their tenure. I believe that USA Rugby has tremendous potential to become a leading NGB and it will take the strength of strong directors to carry it forward.”

Swiryn added, “It was probably one of the most trying times in the history of our Union and I feel honored to have been on such a hard-working, passionate board to get us through the past 12 months. I’m excited about our new athlete representatives to bring in their equally passionate and strong work ethics to get us to the next level. This period of time is the foundation for the next 10 years of rugby in America and we hope everyone will participate, along with the new board of directors.”

Currently the most-capped Women’s Eagle with 51 appearances, Jamie Burke is one of 12 USA Eagles and only Women’s Eagle to surpass the 50-cap mark. An All-World Team selection during the 2010 Rugby World Cup, Burke is now the Director of Youth Rugby for the City of Glendale and Assistant Coach with the USA Women’s Eagles XVs. Spending her time focused on the pathway of young rugby hopefuls, Burke also sits on the USA Rugby International Athlete Council.

“I am excited to work with the board to move USA Rugby forward after a very challenging few years,” added Burke, “We have an opportunity for rebuilding the organization and rebuilding what the perception is of International Athletes in the overall rugby community and I look forward to being a part of that process.”

Denis Shanagher joined the Men’s Eagles XV’s against New Zealand in 1980 and remained through the Wales Tour in 1987, including the Australia and Japan tours; and the 1987 World Cup. He was also on the first Men’s Eagles Sevens team to Hong Kong in 1981 and remained on the team through 1986. His father, Denis Shanagher Sr., was an original board member of USA Rugby. Denis continues to provide support in rugby through philanthropy, currently a Board member with the US Rugby Foundation. Shanagher also contributes to the Shanagher-Morrison Referee Fund as a trustee, which provides annual scholarships to USA Rugby referees for international training opportunities. He is a partner with Duane Morris LLP, an international law firm. Similar to Burke, Shanagher also sits on the USA Rugby International Athlete Council.

Shanagher closed with his goals as part of leadership, “It was a privilege and honor to play for the Eagles XVs and sevens in the 1980s. I am thrilled at the opportunity to now give back to USA Rugby as a member of the Board. Important priorities in my mind include ensuring that the entire rugby community has a voice and is served by USA Rugby, improving the game at all levels, prioritizing the financial health of the organization, and adopting best practices for all of our national teams.”

During the meeting, the leadership group reviewed current issues facing the union including obligations upon exiting Chapter 11 bankruptcy and financial update from the National Office. Feedback to World Rugby regarding the Transgender Athlete Policy was also presented and approved, detailed information on this feedback will be provided to the membership in the coming days. Director Jim Brown later reviewed the recently announced Rugby World Cup feasibility study, ensuring activities remain outside the national office where no financial or impeding obligations land on USA Rugby.

Official minutes containing further information discussed during the meeting will be available of the USA Rugby website within the required 90-day window.


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