Former BYU rugby player forms rugby equipment company


While playing rugby for BYU, Tua Fale realized American rugby was struggling and why: No one sells rugby products in America because the market isn’t large, but the market isn’t large because no one puts effort into growing it.

So rugby teams continued paying foreign companies for the supplies to play, and that money would go into growing foreign rugby.

Rugby outside the United States was booming, while rugby in America struggled because no one was willing to work with such a small market.

But Fale decided he would take the risk and create a new company to build American rugby in the United States at the grassroots level, by providing the clubs and teams with affordable, quality rugby equipment.

With the help of family and friends, Fale started Vanguard Rugby with his cousin Taylor Moore, and already they supply custom balls to the majority of clubs and teams in America.

He did this because while rugby is popular in Europe, Asia and Australia, it hasn’t grown in America, largely  because of the lack of money in the market, Fale said.

“I saw a lot of the rugby world sitting and waiting,” Fale said. “They were sitting and waiting for someone to grow the sport, for … some kind of billionaire to come and invest half of his fortune in rugby. Obviously I didn’t think that would happen, so I thought there had to be some kind of way to start the movement, to help rugby accelerate its growth.”

Fale said a lot of these ideas came to him while he was still playing rugby for BYU.

“I was with BYU, and at the time BYU was still as successful as it is now, but they were having a hard time getting money,” Fale said. “For me in my mind I was like, ‘Wow, BYU, one of the top programs in the nations, who sends people to the national team and sends players to go professional in Europe — and if they’re having a hard time financing themselves and meeting their obligations as a rugby team … then what about other teams?’”

Grassroots rugby in America is struggling, according to the Vanguard Rugby website, and this disconnect with foreign companies, such as Canterbury and Gilbert, is where the idea of Vanguard Rugby came from, Fale said.

“American rugby was bleeding money,” Fale said. “You would buy from Canterbury and Gilbert, and a very minimal percentage would come back into building us. Most of the money would go into paying for advertising in Australia and Europe and Asia where the market is already large.”

Taylor Moore, a business major who is also the chief financial officer of Vanguard Rugby, said this is what makes the situation difficult.

“It is a small niche market,” Moore said. “American Rugby isn’t a business that you’re going to make billions of dollars off of.”

Because of this, most companies don’t want to try, but despite this small market, Vanguard Rugby wants to help American Rugby grow and develop its own identity, Fale said.

“We’re building a brand that’s solely dependent on the success of the American rugby market,” Fale said. “That’s the idea behind Vanguard — we’re not trying to make money overseas, our success is dependent on American rugby. We’re the official ball across the United States.”

Moore agreed with this sentiment.

“If we were just interested in making money, then we’d probably just charge a higher price and not worry about sponsoring tournaments and stuff like that, but we like the sport and we’re involved, and so we choose to invest,” Moore said.

Fale said he recognizes the challenges and admits it will be an uphill battle.

“If Gilbert and Cantebury decided to come out now, they’d probably squish me but they don’t care about American rugby,” Fale said. “That’s part of the adventure, realizing that there are going to be challenges. Nothing good in my life has come when it’s been a walk in the park. That makes me work hard and appreciate whatever little success I get.”


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