Rugby has been a staple of European sport for over 200 years. Its high action tackling and fast-paced game play captivate audiences worldwide. Despite this, America has been behind on the sport, having few events besides collegiate ones. Since the founding of USA Rugby, the national rugby team, in 1971, that has changed.
Rugby is a fairly new sport to our country, but it is growing quickly and consistently. After years of development in the first half of the 20th century, stunted by American football’s popularity, rugby began to grow rapidly in the second half of the century. When USA Rugby was founded, it changed how rugby was perceived in the U.S., now a national competitor. Many organizations and teams are recruiting players across the nation at the youth and collegiate level.
“There are currently 47 state youth organizations that introduce the sport to players as young as five years old. These youth programs continue through high school,” said Rich Cortez, Collegiate Director at USA Rugby.
After the U.S. became an international participant in the sport, the sport began to expand, with youth leagues being founded nationwide.
Today, it has greatly expanded as a sport, extending to everything from youth leagues to a major league. Mainly thanks to major rugby organizations, it is televised, broadcasted, advertised and played nationwide. College rugby is also televised, with various levels of elite divisions. Now, with new teams being added, such as the major league team from New York (New York United RFC), rugby is now more popular than ever, and this growth shows no signs of stopping.
“I continue rugby because I like the teamwork needed and the overall culture of the sport. Not to mention the rush you get when you play,” said Griffin Drinkwater, a 14-year-old local club player.
Going off what we have today, there is just so much more potential for rugby to grow and for so many more people to play this great sport.