Rugby Bits & Bites … We’re Proud of our Eagles

A special collection of rugby goodness about our USA Eagles who rallied hard yesterday to nearly beat Samoa, 25-21, after a 22-3 Somoan lead at halftime.

• A media recap … and the USA Rugby recap.

• Can rugby in the U.S. go pro and become a Tier One team? USA Coach Peter Thorburn is interviewed here and here about what needs to happen in our country.

USA coach Peter Thorburn hopes the IRB Rugby World Cup will help catapult the sport into the mainstream.

“It has always been the sleeping giant,” he said. “I believe that it will reach its potential in the next four or five years, and in eight will be part of the tier one (the best 10 teams in the world).”

Thorburn believes there is a place for rugby alongside the top sports of basketball, American football, ice hockey and baseball.

“They (the American public) love physicality in their sports, lots of action, and rugby is also a multi-skill game. I know that if they see it for the first time, they will like it.”

• Kevin Roberts discusses the next RWC in New Zealand and also agrees to keep the 20-team format for smaller teams to grow … also check out his post on America’s need for “Whakapapa” to fall in love with rugby.

Added: Congratulations to Mark Griffin on being named the 2007 Hershey’s STRIVE National Administrator of the Year by the National Council of Youth Sports. Griffin is a USA Rugby Game Development staff member and also the founder of Play Rugby USA, which “encourages kids across the country to boost their fitness and learn the skills of rugby while developing a set of core values including teamwork and leadership.”

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Filed under 2007 Men's Rugby World Cup, Rugby: Bits and Bites, USA Eagles, USA Rugby

2 responses to “Rugby Bits & Bites … We’re Proud of our Eagles

  1. Alan

    Thorburn says, “We have to create a professional league in the country so young players will start playing.”

    I couldn’t disagree more. Thorburn has it all backwards.

    Out of what, exactly, will this professional league be made? Who will watch it? Without paying spectators, or people willing to lose large amounts of money on a plaything, a professional league is impossible. Can you see 10,000 people turning out to watch rugby in each of 10 different cities over the course of a season? I can’t, not at this point.

    And it’s not the professional league that creates the young players. It’s the young players who create the professional league. A viable professional soccer league came to this country 30 years after soccer became an NCAA sport, and after several generations of children grew up playing it. A viable womens’ basketball league was not necessary to get young girls playing basketball. Rather, it was the growth of the youth game, followed by successes* in the college game that made the eventual league possible.

    Similarly with rugby…we’ll not have a viable professional league here in 8 years. We probably won’t have one in 20. And that’s ok, because youth rugby (high school and younger) is bigger now than it ever has been** and is growing wonderfully quickly. The growth is so great that in Southern California we are seeing new senior clubs emerging from youth teams whose founding members are growing up.

    It is when these players and those who follow them (whose numbers should continue to increase) achieve a critical mass that the possibility of American professional rugby will start to make sense. Until then, it is both a pipe dream and a distraction.

    *I’m not talking so much as success on the court like Pat Summitt winning so many games or UConn going undefeated. Any time you have a competition, you will have teams that do well, and it doesn’t make much sense to look at a winning womens’ team as evidence of womens’ capabilities (because you wouldn’t look at the losers as counter-evidence). I’m talking about seats filled and eyes on the screen…which is followed by advertisers and their money. This sort of economic viability is how success is determined in professional sports.

    **As little as 20 years ago, rugby was virtually non-existent for high-schoolers and below. Even the modest penetration that we’re seeing now is literally thousands of times better than it was then.

  2. Blondie

    Solid points Alan. And worth everyone’s consideration.

    From my experiences, I’ve seen that USA Rugby is also trying to build the youth rugby numbers. Hell, all of us in the rugby-playing public are building the youth rugby numbers too.

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