While football is among the most common sports in the United States, rugby has grown rapidly over the past few decades to attract a large fan base. American football dominates in the United States, but by the look of things, rugby is increasingly becoming the talk of the town. Rugby has attracted many players and fans. The rapid growth of the popularity of the sport is starting to excite Americans. Before looking at how rugby has grown so far, here is how the sport started in the US.
History of rugby in the US
The first rugby match in the United States was played in 1874 featuring Harvard University and McGill University. In around 1905, there was a football crisis which revolved around claims that American football was a violent sport. The controversy partly made rugby advance in the country. Rugby was born out of the need to challenge American football as the most common sports in the West Coast. In the 1920 Summer Olympics held in Antwerp, a rugby team mainly composed of Stanford University players played against France and the US team emerged the winner of the gold medal. Despite these huge strides, rugby did not grow as fast and it started fading away in the United States.
The sport revived in the 1960s and 1970s with colleges starting to put together rugby teams. The body that governs rugby was formed in the mid-1970s. The sport continued to grow with time to become among the most loved sport of the 21st century.
The rapid growth of rugby in the US
The love of rugby was demonstrated when the All Blacks paid Chicago a visit in 2014. Americans from all corners of the country came together at Soldier Field to witness the game of their lives with the US rugby team taking on the world’s best rugby team. Although the United States team lost to All Blacks, many found the match an awesome experience. It demonstrated the love and support rugby gained in the US.
Currently, there are over 115,000 registered players with USA Rugby. Among them, 32,000 are players coming from colleges across the country. In 2010, the country recorded the highest participation rates than ever beating established rugby countries such as Wales and Scotland. Today, rugby is a mature sport with enough support infrastructure, such as Rhino Rugby, that provides essential rugby products like jerseys and balls. You can also find teamwear, fanwear, and equipment at this site.
It is estimated that the participation rate grew by 350% between 2004 and 2011. The massive rise in the rate has continued to grow up to date. Currently, there are over 800 college rugby teams across the country. The Varsity Cup is broadcasted nationally with many fans across the country. The Las Vegas Sevens is another annual tournament that brings together best-of-class 16 teams from across the world to the US, yet another way to open doors for the sport’s expansion in the country. It has become part of October sports madness that has been previously dominated by the American football, baseball, basketball and hockey.
Growing the future generation of rugby players
Starting from high school, many teens have demonstrated passion for rugby and it has been reported that there are over 35000 high school athletes playing rugby as of 2016. The sport has come a long way in the United States. Rugby equipment has also become easily accessible and acquired. There are stores around the country that provides the equipment, such as rugby balls, ball bags and accessories.
With the readily available equipment and accessories, many young teens are joining the sport and the USA rugby targets to nurture talents of 13-year-olds to become the next generation of world-class rugby players. When people get into the game early, they get enough time to progress and perfect their rugby-playing art. These efforts will eventually see the sport continue to rise while upholding the highest standards of quality.
The numbers from USA Rugby are impressive with more than 50,000 registered youth players. Considering the history of rugby, the number demonstrates that rugby has big potential with 5 to 13-year-olds joining the game, especially now that world rugby legends, such as Waisale Serevi, are coming to help in developing new talents. Rugby veterans are coming back to start coaching companies and even coach in an effort to promote the sport in the US. Such efforts are becoming an influential catalyst to help young boys and girls get to know and embrace the sport before reaching college.