U.S. Rugby Gaining Popularity but Not There Yet

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Although rugby continues to gain popularity internationally, the sport has not quite gained a foothold in the United States. While many countries throughout the world continue to embrace the rough-and-tumble sport, the majority of U.S. based fans continue to pour their passion into American football. The sport is starting to see gains in popularity across the U.S. since its return to the Olympics, however, and some believe that the U.S. national rugby team could be ranked as one of the top teams in the world within the next five years.

USA Rugby PhotoAlthough rugby continues to gain popularity internationally, the sport has not quite gained a foothold in the United States. While many countries throughout the world continue to embrace the rough-and-tumble sport, the majority of U.S. based fans continue to pour their passion into American football. The sport is starting to see gains in popularity across the U.S. since its return to the Olympics, however, and some believe that the U.S. national rugby team could be ranked as one of the top teams in the world within the next five years.

According to recent statistics, registered rugby players in the United States total 115,000 with college players representing 32,000 of the total and the rest playing for high school teams and clubs. Some feel that the sport of rugby has a real chance of gaining momentum in the U.S. by pointing out that 61,000 people attended a match between the U.S.A. Eagles and New Zealand’s in a 15-a-side national team match at Soldier Field in 2014.

If the creators of The Rugby Channel have anything to do with it, the sport of rugby will be one of the fastest-growing sports in the U.S. The Rugby channel launched in the U.S. in April giving American rugby enthusiasts an outlet on their mobile devices and desktops to watch matches live and on-demand from around the world. The challenge that faces the Rugby International Marketing Group, who are the creators of The Rugby Channel, along with the Omnigroup, is trying to build the popularity of a sport in a market already saturated with sports.

Those in the know at Omnigroup hope to build the popularity of rugby in the U.S. in a similar way as soccer did with the formation of the MLS. When the MLS first started, there was very little interest among U.S. sports enthusiasts. Now, after nearly 20 years of grass root efforts to grow the sport, the MLS is a popular and profitable professional entity. Omnigroup hopes to follow the same path as the MLS and would like to see a professional league form in the next few years. The hope is that rugby will gain a wider audience and build name recognition with a professional league.

Although rugby in the U.S. continues to gain popularity, it will take some time to build a brand that is instantly recognizable to the American sports enthusiast. However, the sport is starting to make some inroads with the help of television and sports broadcasting giants like NBC, ESPN and marketing companies like Omnigroup.

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About the Author ()

Kevin Kennedy shares our "rugby affliction," as USA Rugby CEO Dan Payne calls it. But his fanaticism goes one step further, as he and some college buddies have their own site, USS Sports Machinehttp://www.usssportsmachine.com/
  • rumbler

    I like what’s going on but what about Pro Rugby? Hearing rumors about players not getting paid?

  • WCR

    Is the author of the article not aware of the existence of PRO Rugby? Or is he referring to a professional league that would be owned and run by RIM?

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