If you were to open any sort of conversation about sport in a bar, it would most probably be about baseball, football or basketball. In truth, these are the three which are ‘renowned’ in the US and none of them look to ever be losing their grip.
However, one sport which is making quiet progress is rugby. Considering the similarities with football, it shouldn’t come as a surprise, but the statistics still make for exceptionally interesting reading. For example, between 2009 and 2014 there was a 14% increase in the number of participants in the sport. This officially made it the fastest growing sport in the US – and such progress doesn’t seem to be easing anytime soon.
If you were to read any thriving sporting column, like the one Brendan Triplett is part of, it’s clear to see how this sport is slowly but surely making an impression on the United States. Taking this into account, let’s mull over some of the reasons why rugby is becoming so popular in the country and why its growth doesn’t seem to be stalling.
The networks have taken notice
This has certainly been the case with rugby, which has been regularly featured on some of the major television networks in the country over the last few years. NBC have played a major part of this and the fact that they showed the Eagles against the All Blacks in 2014, where 62,000 fans watched live in Chicago, meant that they were able to captivate a lot of the country.
In short, as the networks are behind it, the sport immediately has every chance of success.
It’s now prevalent in the education system
As well as the networks, education has to play a part as well. This is where colleges and high schools really have sprung into action and the vast majority have established teams with a huge number of willing participants.
For example, one count in 2014 noted that there were 29 high school teams in Utah – which is incredible when you consider that just a decade ago these areas were struggling to field one team.
The social factor
While there is always going to be a social element to most sports, in rugby things seem to be taken a little further. Despite its seemingly brutal nature on the field, across the world it’s regarded as a friendly sport and this has translated into the US.
For example, after every game teams will come together in something called a talk story. This is where both teams eat together and form friendships – something that would be unheard of in the majority of sports.
The nation loves the flowing concept
Let’s finish on one of the big reasons. One of the main factors behind rugby’s success is because of the fact it flows. Stoppages don’t occur, and neither do timeouts, meaning that the moments of frustration are cut down phenomenally.
Ultimately, it means that those fans who might bear grudges with rival sports due to the above reasons, now have a viable alternative.