England named its starting lineup to play Samoa this weekend and guess who’s back in action? Yup, that flyhalf that most American ruggers name when they have to name an international rugby player, ol’ Jonny boy back from injury.
Despite all of our fanaticism round here, rugby just isn’t big news in the USA … yet. So the average rugby player’s exposure to the super stars of the game is minimal at best. Getting better, but still minimal.
Just take a look at every all-star player profile in Rugby Magazine when they ask who your childhood rugby hero was? It’s always Jonny Wilkinson or Jonah Lomu. Never mind that Wilkinson is only 28 and Lomu is 32 … or basically the same age as most of us, just a hair older perhaps if you’re a HS or college player.
And when you were a kid, so were they … and it’s highly likely that most of us Americans didn’t even know what rugby was yet growing up. We were playing American football, basketball, baseball or softball. Soccer was just getting widespread when I was a little girl, but my high school didn’t even offer it outside of phy. ed. class. Me … I ran track.
Who were our childhood heros? Michael Jordan, Brett Favre (I am in Wisconsin after all), Mia Hamm for some of you … me personally, I always liked Charles Barkley. Don’t ask …
Barkley would’ve been a monster on a rugby field though, wouldn’t he?