USA Rugby Star Matt Hawkins Asks: How Do We Develop Rugby In USA?

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Matt "Polar Bear" Hawkins

Team USA Eagle 7s star, Matthew “Polar Bear” Hawkins, who is also now working with Serevi, contributes weekly on Rugby Wrap Up – technology permitting.

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – So, the question I have today is: How do we develop rugby here in the USA?

Yes, this is a very broad question and to some extent, there is no short answer. But….

We have to take what we have, combine the different parts and then add what pieces we can to create something that is not only sustainable but also constantly evolving and progressing. And what do we have right now? We have a Rugby Union that is doing its best to steer the rugby ship in the right direction but what exactly, is that Union really and truly responsible for? Off the top of my head, here are 4 obvious repsponsiblities:

Sponsorship
Continued Education
Youth Development
Player Development

Do they form the focus of what USA Rugby does? Should these form the main focus?  I’m not quite sure.

At the end of the day we need USA Rugby to be successful at whatever they deem necessary as an organization. Rugby can only flourish in this country if the governing entity is successful. But what does that mean?

Within USA Rugby you essentially have two groups that are structured to be help USA Rugby with what their focus is, while also diversifying and adding something different. Those two groups are split into private parties like SEREVi and PlayRugbyUSA and the more public, like the Territorial and State Unions.

Vanesha McGee

These groups have a huge role to play in the success of Rugby and the growth of it in this country. Unfortunately, one cannot be without the other and they need to realize that if all are successful, Rugby will be successful. Just paint a really generic picture for a second. We have a population of around 300 million people. The greatest number of total players is in England, who have around 2,5 million. I’m not saying that this is an easy task, but they have other huge sports like Cricket and Soccer that compete with Rugby – and they do it. If we could just get 1% of our population into rugby – from 6 years old to 50+ -we could have the greatest group of rugby players in the world. And with comes a voice.

A huge part to this is the women’s market and the women’s game. I think for too long now, the female portion of the rugby-playing population have really and truly had to deal with the male left-overs, per say. Realistically looking at it from the perspective of both the insider and as an outsider, I  ask you: Come 2016, who has the best chance of Qualifying and shooting for the podium? I won’t offer my opinion for obvious reasons, but just take some time to think about that.

So how do we get all these pieces of this enormous puzzle –  the US is an enormous puzzle – all to agree what role they play, how to play it and to grasp that doing so is for the good of the whole and each piece? Just as important, how do we get each piece to realize that the other pieces are just as critical?

I’ll leave you with these questions to ponder. Your thoughts are welcome below. Next week I’ll try to get some answers from a few members of this current USA Sevens Team, after they’re back from the final leg of the 2011/2012 HSBC Sevens World Series this weekend in London.

Cheers
Matt Hawkins

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About Matt Hawkins 26 Articles
Matt Hawkins is the current Player/Coach of the USA Eagles 7s team. He is affectionately known as "The Polar Bear" because of his light blond hair and eyebrows. Plus, he likes grabbing salmon from Alaskan rivers.