by Ted Hardy
Can we build it? Yes… we… can!
I figured that I would channel Bob the Builder for my latest editorial. As an editorial disclaimer, it should first be noted that by “building it”, I don’t mean any of the following:
- 1. A new Union
- 2. A unified season for college rugby
- 3. Winning national teams
- 4. A professional rugby league
However, all of the above will benefit (someday) by everyone taking a deep breath and reminding themselves that Rome wasn’t built in a day and America as a rugby nation still has a very long way to go.
Still, we live in exciting times.
Youth rugby participation is on the rise, which is pushing high school rugby to new heights. More and more communities are embracing youth rugby. Whole generations of players are being given the opportunity to take up the sport at the same age that kids first start playing football, basketball, or baseball. It may be 15-20 years before we fully understand and appreciate the impact that is being made today by tons of volunteer coaches and administrators.
One day the USA will win at rugby with homegrown talent and all of the collective efforts going on right now will be validated.
High school rugby is booming in 15′s and 7′s. More and more schools are recognizing the benefit of the sport and making it varsity. Sevens has opened the door for single-school participation and could change the landscape of high school rugby in the next five years.
College rugby is undergoing a massive overhaul that has caused massive pains while also showing the promise of a very bright future. The new conferences are taking hold of their own fate and I look forward to seeing it unfold in the coming years. Players are excited, coaches are excited, and fans are even more excited about the prospects.
Rugby is an Olympic sport. How awesome is that? It is even more awesome that the designation is helping drive numbers to youth and high school rugby. Some of whom will someday be Olympians. You cannot buy that type of promotion. Not with a gazillion dollars.
These are all amazing things that we cannot take for granted. Trust in knowing that things are moving forward even though we may all hem and haw about the likelihood of the Eagles coming away from the World Cup with one win (or less), why the Super League cannot be a professional league, or the ongoing fall/spring college rugby season debate.
This by no means absolves the problems and issues that plague American rugby at the highest levels… leadership, overpaid personnel, politics, misappropriated funds, and a host of other transgressions. The time is coming when those issues will be addressed.
But we cannot continually focus on those issues without taking a step back and appreciating what is working for rugby in America and the positives that we have.
And what we have here in America is something special.
I wish you all a very happy and safe 4th of July weekend.