Will Rugby Ever Take Off in America?
Rugby is one of the oldest sports in the world, and is played practically all over the world. Throughout, most of the world, rugby is the second most popular sport, behind only association football. However, the United States of America is one place where rugby isn't quite as popular as it is throughout the rest of the world. Earlier this year, USA Rugby announced that a former New Blacks coach was to take over the role in charge of the USA Eagles. Could this be a signal of intent to reach bigger and better things?
Rugby has previously been played in the United States back in 1874. On that occasion Harvard faced the McGill University of Montreal and even played rugby at the Olympics where they won back to back gold medals in 1920 and 24. Overall, rugby never stood much of a chance due its division of classes. Rugby has always been the game of the upper classes, which just doesn't fit in with the blue-collar working class attitude of America, there's even a division within the UK where the north tend to prefer rugby league as opposed to rugby union, favored by the south.
Contrary to popular belief, the USA do have their own international rugby team, with the image of their iconic Bald Eagle as their emblem. They rank 17th in the world and had a disappointing World Cup campaign last year. They recently lost 7-54 to the Māori All Blacks, and have their final game of the year against Romania. Both games form their end of year tests, the equivalent to the Autumn Internationals that the home nations will be competing in this month. Just for fun, you can use the Autumn Internationals Score Generator from Ladbrokes to help you predict the score of each game.
The biggest threat to rugby in the United States will always be the National Football League. The sports have more in common than divides them, particularly when it comes to the shape of the ball and the way the sports are played. Scoring a touchdown is very similar to scoring a try, and there may be many within the states who just see rugby as too similar to NFL. There has however, been a great deal of success with the NFL bringing their International Series to London every year since 2007, helping to spread the popularity of America's favorite sport to the United Kingdom.
John Mitchell, the New Zealand born coach is currently at the helm of the USA Rugby team. He has previously coached the All Blacks, Sale Sharks, Chiefs, Lions, and Western Force. Mitchell is currently preparing his side to face Romania and has his sights set on big things for the remainder of his tenure in charge of the team, and believes his team could be on the brink of something big. It is too early to predict just how popular rugby could become across the pond, but right now, they're happy taking it just one game at a time.