Junoir Blaber is a rugby-lifer; fan, player & Assistant Coach for the New York Rugby Club. Don’t miss the upcoming NYRC Thanksgiving 7s Tournament.
NEW YORK, NY – The other day, Do you know the way to San Jose?, a great (maybe not “great”) little ditty in its time, got in my head and for whatever reason, had me thinking about the plan USA Rugby’s directors have for the Eagles for Rugby World Cup 2015. Do You Know The Way To Rugby, USA?
Us rugby fans in the USA are gluttons for punishment. Many of us beat up our bodies playing a game that is in the periphery of American sports main stream. All of us want it to be better recognized and marketed so we can eventually have a pro league. That is our unified goal. How we get there is where we all diverge. A plethora of ideas could be a good thing and I urge you to post yours here, but my fear is that with so many ideas, it will cause a brain freeze and nothing will change. Colleges, Men’s club and local rugby unions all have their own ideas.
What also concerns me is the notion that Rugby is in a positive place because we’re where soccer was 25 years ago – that our time is coming. It is not that I doubt it, it’s just that I question if we have the same kind of ability in leadership and planning to get there from here.
Soccer has the advantage of being the world’s # 1 sport. It is different from any of the Big 4. Rugby can claim to have the 3rd largest international sporting event in the RWC, but it is not in the top 3 of world sports. It’s curse may, ironically, may very well be it’s constant comparison to it’s American son – gridiron football. It’s not football. If we keep selling the new American rugby fan that it’s just like American football, they may not buy into the comparison. We have to start giving fans the benefit of the doubt that they do indeed have the mental capacity to learn and like something different. NBC/Universal and FOX Sports have the difficult task of figuring that out. Which for this fan, is a good problem.
Rather than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, I would like to see one idea, one clear and direct vision, followed through to the end. For instance, if we are saying 7s is sexy, then let’s direct energy in that direction. Maybe cut the pay of Coaches, aim to get old matches on TV – ESPN 2 was showing the Cross-Fit Championships for Pete’s sake.
Let’s face it, we’re at the crossroads. Resources are still strained, but we’ve got much-needed interest in from the aforementioned networks. We need to capitalize on and maximize the exposure. To do that, we need direction from the top down. Do we have it?