Rugby Bits & Bites … Hip Hip Hooray for Friday!

A lot of WRC flavor in this dose. I have about 70-some e-mail updates to sort through. Whew!

• First and foremost, new links! Everybody loves new links!

Anne in Spokane, Washington sent me a link for the Vixens. Anne says they working hard to build a roster for their D-2 team.

Also, a new rugby blog that I’m giving back some link love to … Blood and Mud. Links on the sidebar!

• This cracks me up … a post in a Chicago newspaper for new players for the Chicago Women:

Rugby is the best sport ever. If you don’t know how to play, we will teach you. We are practicing now on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at Dunham Park. Please go to our web site, http://www.cwrfc.org, for further info.

Yes, Rugby really is the best sport ever.

• Two feature articles on the Penn State Women, the 2007 D-1 national champs … Lady Rugger Gains International Experience, a feature on PSU’s Kate Daley, and Lady Ruggers Eager to Keep National Title.

• Via ParisDailyPhoto, this would be quite the sight to see! Rugby players as big as buildings.

• A feature story on rugby players who come to the U.S. to play football and attracting more gridiron players to rugby.

Ryan Pretorius, a 28-year-old native of South Africa, said the soft hands and quick feet of 315-pound tackle Alex Boone would make him an intriguing rugby prospect, but doesn’t imagine he’ll be starting a pickup rugby game with his Buckeye teammates anytime soon.

“It would be brutal,” Pretorius said. “Guys would be trying to take each other’s heads off.”

In his lilting South African accent, Pretorius makes his personal journey to the Horseshoe sound completely sensible: South African native playing professional rugby in France watches American football kickers on his computer; thinks he can do better, turns down hundreds of thousands of dollars in potential rugby money; moves to America; sends a tape of himself kicking 50- and 60-yard field goals to nearly 20 colleges from Notre Dame to Florida; comes to OSU as a walk-on; bides his time for three years; and finally wins job.

But his success isn’t likely to start a rugby run to football. In fact, the coaches for USA Rugby are hoping the trend goes the other way – they’d like to recruit football players to play rugby.

Al Caravelli is the coach of the USA Rugby sevens teams, a version of the game played with less than half the typical lineup of 15 players per side. That 15-player U.S. team plays England in its first World Cup match Saturday, but home in New York, Caravelli is preparing to run three rugby combines around the country and said he has attracted the interest of at least three players recently cut from NFL rosters. From the roster of the U.S. team currently in France he points to players like Paul Emerick, a former defensive back at Northern Iowa, and Luke Gross, a 6-9 former basketball player at Marshall.

“I can’t compete with the NFL and the NBA and the MLS, but I can compete with Arena Football,” Caravelli said. “I’m looking for Division I athletes to see if we can make the crossover.”

And let’s not forget all the gridiron women out there … save the pads for our bras ladies, come play rugby.

• All Blacks great Sir Brian Lochore says we need to clean up our mauls and help rugby “go back to a more open and spectacular game.” I completely agree. I hate messy stalling mauls. Ugh.

• I had never really thought of this, but much like Soccer Moms here in the U.S. with their mini-vans, there are also Rugby Mummies.

• Down south in Argentina, the soccer-mad nation is excited about the Pumas’ RWC hopes.

But even those who normally cheer soccer teams were talking about rugby, many learning quickly as they hoped they could see their Pumas make the second round.

“I know nothing about nothing when it comes to rugby. But I love how they play with such brute strength and courage,” said Marcela Marimon, a 27-year-old perfume vendor who gaped as the Pumas were playing Georgia on a television set up in a Buenos Aires shop window.

When Aramburu notched Argentina’s fourth try against Georgia on Tuesday, the crowd deliriously shouted “Goalll.” Never mind that’s a soccer cheer.

If the Pumas keep dashing rivals, Argentines could still be cheering some more.

• I somehow doubt that this guy actually has a throng of women getting in his way of watching the World Cup. Maybe his mom …

• Four articles on the work towards growing rugby in the U.S., what might be holding us back and how small steps at this year’s RWC can help … NOTE: These articles predate the start of the RWC and our loss to England and Tonga.

1. Article from Business Week (which I can’t remember if I posted yet) – Rugby Breaks Into the Big Leagues: The sport’s quadrennial World Cup is expected to draw 4 billion viewers and generate income of $200 million. But can it catch on in the U.S.?

2. Article from New York TimesU.S. Team at World Cup is Trying to Stay Longer.

In five World Cup appearances, the Eagles have never managed more than one victory — they have beaten Japan twice in separate tournaments. But with the United States kicking off its 2007 campaign tomorrow against the defending champion England, Nigel Melville, the president of USA Rugby, is realistic about their expectations.

“To win a game would be great,” he said in a telephone interview. “To win two would be fantastic.”

For Melville, setting such modest goals is a new experience. As a player, he was one of the few men to captain the England side on his national team debut. As a coach, he worked with one of England’s most successful club teams, London Wasps. But he said he understood that in a country where rugby was viewed largely as a game for overweight, muddy foreigners, success must defined in different terms.

“It’s very important for players, coaches and spectators to understand the gap between the professionals and the amateurs,” he said. “What we’re aspiring to do is to upset these professionals. The key is to try and give England a scare.”

And the stakes, Melville said, are much higher than just respect on the field.

“We’re playing for the growth of the game, we’re playing for future sponsors to get involved, we’re playing to make it professional as soon as we can. Success over there will speed up all those processes because people will start to believe in the game and you don’t grow your game on the back of failure.”

USA Rugby currently has more than 80,000 registered members whose financial contributions are propping up the sport in this country. With little television revenue and minimal sponsorships, the squad is forced to work on a shoestring budget.

3. Via his Gainline blog, Kurt Oehler’s thoughts on Why America Should be the Best Investment in World Rugby.

4. One writer and fellow rugger wonders if rugby in America is being held back other sports corporations – Rugby World Cup Fever Only a Cough in the U.S.

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2 Comments

Filed under Rugby: Bits and Bites

2 responses to “Rugby Bits & Bites … Hip Hip Hooray for Friday!

  1. John Birch

    Talking of cross-overs, I caught the USA vs England women’s football/soccer world cup game today. The US goalkeeper – Hope Solo? – now wouldn’t she make an outstanding second row…

  2. Anonymous

    Hey John, you think Solo would make a good second row – take a look at Wambach. That woman is fearless.

    -J

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