Apologies for the delayed reply, I haven't had time over the past few days to answer your question fully.
Our vision for the Midwest revolves around creating a MW conference to join the USARL and feed into it's national playoff system. However, for that to happen we need three other interested owner / operators / volunteers to start new teams (preferably within the Chicagoland area) that can compete locally against the Stockyarders in a regular season. Until then, we will continue to play exhibition games each summer. It's not possible for us to go straight into the USARL as it stands without major investment due to the distances involved. Over time we would love to grow junior programs and develop our own players as a long term project but again it's trying to find volunteers with the time to lead those programs. We've actually fielded interest from junior union teams looking to play league in the summer here in Illinois so that is one avenue that we'd like to explore. We'd also like to be involved with the upcoming US women's RL project and we have made some preliminary steps to start the ball rolling with this. Again, this revolves around links that we have with a local women's union team otherwise we wouldn't know where to start.
In terms of a national vision, we'd hope that the USARL clubs continue to grow stronger and that we are a part of it's expansion. Without a major investor though it will continue to rely on volunteers. It would be great to see more small conferences develop around the nation that can come together in a national playoff at the end of the season.
Most guys in the US come to league after first experiencing 15s union in college or high school then accidentally discovering league (typically NRL) off the back of this and liking the look of it. They typically enjoy it if they have an opportunity to try it and many prefer it to 7s RU. Many end up liking both codes - no big deal for them. Many (if not all) aspire to play for the USA Hawks and would love to play in a RLWC for the US, but union 15s is still usually their first love. If we moved seasons to compete against 15s RU, we'd be down to a player pool of 0 and we would have to start over again trying to recruit guys with no previous interest in Rugby. We actually tried this before between 2006 and 2010 - it didn't work for us. If we did it again, it would set our sport back and take us a long time to recover.
We just want Rugby league to continue and to grow in Chicago and it can in it's current format. The more individuals playing our sport, the better, right? Some of those individuals may even like our sport enough to start a junior program at his / her respective club or park district or even invest in our sport on some level.
Hope this information helps? We are always amazed at the interest overseas RL fans have in the sport at our level here in America. Long may it continue!