Rugby is one of the fastest growing sports in the United States. Many people think of rugby as a fringe sport, but you may be surprised to learn that it is actually the second most popular sport in the world behind soccer. In fact, in Europe, Australia and South Africa, the teams and players are elevated to a star status that exceeds that of NFL players in the United States! Many teams fill 80,000 seat stadiums for international match play.
The allure of rugby is easy to understand yet hard to explain. Who can’t appreciate the toughness required to play a fast-paced, hard- hitting game that is 80 minutes long (70 minutes at the high school level) with no timeouts and only a 5- minute half time! All players play both defense and offense at any given time during a game. And, most appealing is the fact that there is a position for everyone who wants to play – large or thin, short or tall. Above all, rugby is a social sport that praises competition but demands good sportsmanship. As part of the rugby tradition, the home team hosts the visiting team and an after game social, which is filled only with good cheer and camaraderie.*
*(The above was gratefully “borrowed” from the Utah Youth Rugby website – we couldn’t have said it better ourselves!)
The seven-player version of rugby was played in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The last time rugby was played in the Olympics was in 1924. The gold-medalists in both the 1920 and 1924 Olympics was, believe it or not, the United States!