Friday Apr 27, 2018 An interesting look into Rugby's recent rapid growth in the United States

An interesting look into Rugby's recent rapid growth in the United States
8
Comments

Rugby’s growth, both in numbers and popularity, in the USA is undeniable. While fifteens success is taking longer, the introduction of Sevens into the Olympic Games has played a huge role in building rugby interest across the nation. 

The Summer Games are something to which the United States most certainly its gives full attention. Thus, the sport was given a much-needed shot in the arm, and is starting to experience a renaissance of sorts. 

One only need look at the success the national Sevens side is enjoying at the moment. With a monumental win in Las Vegas and a team brimming with legitimate superstars, they’re currently ranked sixth in the world, ahead of various tier one nations. 

As the below video illustrates, gaining and maintaining that recognition is no easy task, especially while having to battle the NFL, which is hands down the undisputed champ of the US sporting market. 

It’s also fair to say the proof is in the numbers. Concerning 15’s, the fact remains, they are not currently on par with tier one nations. Who knows when, or if that will ever happen.

However, the Eagles are enjoying a five-game winning streak and have won seven of their last eight.

An important distinction can be made, however, between perceived quality of the national side and growing overall popularity of the game in general.

No doubt, many things are needed. One of which has been to get more eyes on the product. In stepped NBC Sports. Now, not only can the Aviva Premiership be viewed in the States, but this year’s Six Nations as well. 

Obviously, another necessity is capital. But judging by the growing number of partnerships being created with overseas clubs, the iron is hot for investment and growth. Also, with the MLR (Major League Rugby) opening season, there may be enough exposure to help grow fanbases.

Hopefully, one day soon this will no longer play out as a continuous broken record. Surely the international game would welcome more tier one nations into the fold.

This video from World Rugby gives us a fascinating insight into the thoughts of those in charge of delivering television broadcasts of rugby in the USA, and the positive views they have on the sport.

Credit: World Rugby

8 Comments

  •  drg
    drg

    Isn't California one of the leading progressive liberal states in the US? Perhaps rugby hasn't taken off so well because there is no safe spaces....

    Reply
  •  10stonenumber10
    10stonenumber10

    It just won't happen. 7s is taken as seriously as a game of "pick up football" in the park. Similar numbers, no position specialities needed. Everything on American TV has been about rags to riches stories from certain demographics, and they aren't from the wealthy "Tom Brady" mould. The same way you don't see Army recruiters at Ivy League schools, but there is one on every corner in the hood. Athletic failures supposedly finding their second chance... or society shoehorning people into "pre-approved avenues of success." That is how rugby is viewed. A second chance for failures in "American" sports.

    Reply
  •  larry
    larry

    There's a bit of on-field thinking on the American football field, but very little. Every offensive passing play allows for the quarterback to have options as to whom to throw the ball, or to take off and run if need be. I will say that Americans seem to be fixated on equipment. La crosse required a helmet, shoulder pads, the stick. Football has all sorts of equipment. Basketball hardly any, though. Baseball has gear, more so than cricket really. Rugby has very litte, but other than some youth leagues for those not quite high school age, it really isn't growing. In California, la crosse leap-frogged rugby as a popular alternative high school sport a good fifteen years ago!

    Reply
  •  larry
    larry

    To both guys who commented above. 7s seems to be the future, but I'd also like to say that 10s would be an even more entertaining form of the sport for the Olympics. In my opinion 7s seems just a tad too wide open a sport, too much like basketball with all the scoring that takes place. 10s would also allow those with less speed to contribute. I'm only familiar with British Columbia rugby, having been up there and played up there in the past. There are some well established clubs in Vancouver and the surrounding area, so I hope there isn't a problem with numbers there. The fact is every five years or so there's some article, such as this one, saying that rugby is the fastest growing sport in America. I just don't see it. Actually that might have been true in the 70's and 80's, and then things leveled off.

    Reply
  •  larry
    larry

    To both guys who commented above. 7s seems to be the future, but I'd also like to say that 10s would be an even more entertaining form of the sport for the Olympics. In my opinion 7s seems just a tad too wide open a sport, too much like basketball with all the scoring that takes place. 10s would also allow those with less speed to contribute. I'm only familiar with British Columbia rugby, having been up there and played up there in the past. There are some well established clubs in Vancouver and the surrounding area, so I hope there isn't a problem with numbers there. The fact is every five years or so there's some article, such as this one, saying that rugby is the fastest growing sport in America. I just don't see it. Actually that might have been true in the 70's and 80's, and then things leveled off.

    Reply
  •  10stonenumber10
    10stonenumber10

    40 minutes without an advert break is far too long for American television. "Soccer" already takes 45 minutes. 7 minutes is an almost acceptable wait for a lucrative advertising slot. Why promote a sport where the best players come from places Americans have never heard of? Todd Clever was good, but he couldn't hold a candle to McCaw. Oamaru... isn't that a Pokemon? Rugby also has a recognised concussion issue and relevant HIA protocols in place... No leading researchers/doctors/campaigners mysteriously found dead either. I probably will after posting this!

    Reply
  •  10stonenumber10
    10stonenumber10

    It is mentioned in the article. "...more eyes on the product." Product is the wrong word completely, but once again it is reinforcing the idea that sport is a business. Money shouldn't be an issue, you can pay an entire rugby team + staff for the same as 1 "star" american football player earns in 6 months from sponsorships, wages etc. Sponsorship is another big player. NFL/NHL/NBA/MLB are all seen as "home grown" sports, using equipment made in America. It costs about $800-$3000 for a full set of pads, helmet, footwear/skates, and a lot of it is consumable, compared to about $100 for boots, mouthguard + complete playing kit. People will argue that the sport will bring more money to local businesses and retailers, but again, the reality is that the internet is king. With fixed contracts for consumables sponsors are guaranteed $100,000+ per season kitting out a new team. American Football has too much of a monopoly. They have influence over the Medical associations, academic institutions, town and city planning, and many people in positions of power played football at college. Rugby would disrupt. A sport that is even tougher than American Football, the debate has been going on for decades. American Football is completely directed, controlled, with no freedom for creativity. A team controlled by an individual. Rugby is autonomous. You make the decisions, individuals working as a team. They don't want people to think for themselves. On the field, or off it. I'll leave it at that.

    Reply
  •  larry
    larry

    I'd have to disagree, as an American and Californian, that the game of rugby is becoming more popular here. Actually, the truth of the matter is that the Aviva Premiership has had few of its games telecast on regular cable NBC sports. Other games have been, on NBC Gold or some other subscription channel in which one pays more than the regular sub rates for cable TV. Some games are telecast a week or so after they've been played. I believe that the American football authorities do not want much exposure of rugby, and either do soccer people. In my own area, Monterey Bay, there is no high school rugby programs currently in existence. There used to be. Unfortunately, the sport has not grown in high schools in the northern half of California, but la crosse has. Few high schools have teams, and there are far more clubs that have students from three or four surrounding schools. La crosse has basically a team in every single high school. I referee mostly the second division university teams of the Northern California Rugby Union. Several of the schools are having a hard time putting 15 players out on the pitch for a match. One school, unfortunately my alma mater, forfeited a playoff match last weekend, as some season-ending injuries for several players early on meant the school only had 15 or 14 to start games for a good part of the season. A few years ago there were plenty of young women at these schools ready to play, with rosters of at least 20, and every game I'd referee had numbers on the field and on the touchline. Two women's clubs did not play this year for the same reason: lack of numbers. One men's club folded and amalgamated with a bigger club, making that club much stronger. When I think back to the 1980's, in the men's first division, with half a dozen clubs, every one of them had three sides. Now many clubs have just one side to field, and even some of the top division clubs stuggle to put out two sides per weekend.

    Reply

Great Tries

View All

Big Hits & Dirty Play

View All

See It To Believe It

View All

Funnies

View All

Training Videos

View All

Player Features

View All
An interesting look into Rugby's recent rapid growth in the United States | RugbyDump