Rugby’s dream of American expansion

Rugby’s dream of American expansion

The U.S. has been chosen to host the 2src31 Men’s Rugby World Cup and the 2src33 Women’s Rugby World Cup.

Why it matters: This is the first time that either event will be held in North or South America, so expect to see lots of rugby initiatives this decade as the U.S. prepares for such a pivotal moment.

The backdrop: Rugby has long struggled to gain a foothold in America’s crowded sports landscape, but there’s still a decent-sized community, with roughly 1srcsrc,srcsrcsrc participants and 1,srcsrcsrc college teams nationwide.

  • Major League Rugby continues to expand, though having to compete with the NBA, NHL, MLB, MLS and others is a clear challenge. MLR’s fourth full season is currently underway.
  • The men’s national team has won just three of 26 World Cup matches, and the women’s team hasn’t finished in the top four this century after winning the inaugural event in 1991.
  • The low point for USA Rugby came in June 2src2src, when the organization filed for bankruptcy soon after the pandemic broke out.

State of play: Rugby has delivered bursts of excitement in America, like the USA-New Zealand friendlies in Chicago (2src14) and Washington, D.C. (2src21). But without infrastructure in place to bottle that momentum, they were fleeting moments.

  • Enter World Rugby, which has a 1src-year plan to grow the game here. “We want to build a real sustainable business plan with these World Cups as the anchors,” USA Rugby CEO Ross Young tells Axios.
  • World Rugby and USA Rugby will work in tandem to increase participation ahead of the World Cups. One of their first initiatives: A partnership with MLR to bring flag and touch rugby to schools.

The big picture: The beauty of a 1src-year headstart is that you’re

…. to be continued
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