Friday, February 15, 2008

Why Isn't Rugby Union More Popular in the US?

There is a big push right now to get more Rugby in High Schools in Illinois.

HS Rugby makes all the sense in the world to me, low cost, high action and impact, something to keep American footballers in condition off season, better tackling technique for American footballers, better for teaching TEAMWORK are just a few things that spring to mind.

So why isn't Rugby Union more popular in Illinois, or for that matter in the USA?

Too complicated? It really isn't any more complicated than NFL football or NCAA basketball. People don't understand it because they didn't grow up with it, but I really don't see why they couldn't grow up with it.

Too violent? My brother, who played college football for Drake and plays Rugby for the Chicago Griffins said that studies have been done that show that the more equipment you wear the more likely you are to get injured. In Rugby there are no weapons out there, just mano-a-mano. Is there a chance for injury, yes, but I don't think it is really any greater than American football.

Bad Reputation? College Rugby in America has a well deserved reputation for rude, vulgar and even criminal behavior off the field. I never participated in that and it wasn't very evident at Illinois when I was there, but it does happen and some of the college players take some pride in the rep. I think the more comepetitive the team the less that sort of thing happens, but as long as it happens the game will suffer. The question is, is this the main reason the sport isn't more popular.

We already have American football, why do we need another kind of football? I can see the validity of this argument. I don't really see any parallel. None of the really popular sports in the USA are similar to each other at all.

There's no money in it. This is the biggest reason I see. Until 1996 all Rugby Union players, worldwide could NOT be paid to play Rugby.

There is a thing called Rugby League which to my mind is an evil bastardization implemented by greedy people who just wanted to get paid. League has been around since the 1800s and has become more like American football, too much for my tastes.

That's further evidence for this last argument. League and American football, both children of Rugby Union, made changes that were designed to help them make money. So not only is Union not starting from a base of youngsters dreaming of getting rich playing Union, the money making elements in the game aren't there. I hope some of them never get made and that society comes to appreciate the Union game for what it is, but that may be an empty hope.

Why do you think Rugby Union isn't more popular in the USA? You can just vote on the poll and/or you can leave a comment.