Cody Kuxmann is a Referee at the London Society Of Rugby Football Union Referees, while studying International Relations at Richmond, The American International University in London. He lives in Richmond Upon Thames but hails from Green Bay, Wisconsin.
OXFORD UNIVERSITY, ENGLAND – I’ve traveled extensively in the past few weeks refereeing matches all over England. Being from Wisconsin, the amount of rugby within a few hours drive hit hit like a boot to the bollix. Just look at the picture to the left. All of Great Britain fits within a few states back home. That’s when it dawned on me; Rugby in the USA Must Be Regional.
There aren’t enough Frequent Flier Miles known to man that could help offset the travel costs of fledgling Pro Rugby Union in the U.S.A. It’s simply too massive. Look at all of the top rugby nations. Oher than Australia, you see one major difference between the USA and the rest… Distance.
My rugby travels of late have taken me to Northampton (midlands), Oxford (midlands), Ipswich (East Coast) and Newcastle (far north). Yet, I have not traveled more than 3 and a half hours. That’s nothing. Americans would consider that minimal.
Therein lies the problem. Size matters.
The average D1 team travels more (average journey) than any Premiership Club. A nation’s smaller size is big reason why it has been able to develop rugby successfully. Without a serious cash infusion – which does not seem imminent – a nationwide Pro Rugby Union in the U.S.A. is not a realistic venture.
But there is a solution...
Regional Professional Rugby can succeed in the USA. USA Rugby ought to develop pro teams within cities that are close to each other. Forget having New York playing Los Angeles – develop areas where rugby has a market.
Start with the North East, Colorado and California. Don’t disregard the other areas but localization is the key. Boston vs New York is a classic rivalry in all sports and it can be in rugby. Fans would drive to see their pro team play in that match-up.
There are two possible ways to go about this; develop the current teams or go to a city-based team – almost a provincial scheme. That way you would have a city league in which the best of the best are taken for the pro-team. Then pit city against city. It could also be done on a state level. Either way, this would make fan-identity greater because it would be easier to sell the American non-rugby followers on the teams themselves. Support your city, America!
There’s my two bits, what do you think?