Wednesday, March 2, 2011

"Rugby in America: Worth a Try"

Rugby coaches and players aften remark how this sport is the fastest growing in the country. I've seen the same claim made anecdotally by a few other sports as well. The article below quotes some statistics from an independent business group that support the claim that, yes, rugby is the fastest growing team sport in America.

Rugby in America: Worth a try
More and more Americans are being converted to the sport
Feb 3rd 2011 SAN FRANCISCO

Some passages below from a recent article in the Economist:

"Last year almost 360,000 children played a non-contact form of the sport at school, according to USA Rugby, the sport’s national governing body. That has helped raise rugby’s profile: a study by America’s Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA) found that between 2007 and 2009 (the latest year for which data is available), it was the fastest-growing team sport in the country, outpacing rivals such as lacrosse and hockey. In 2009, says the SGMA, some 750,000 Americans played rugby, over 20% more than in 2007. “For the sport to be on our radar screen is a sign it’s got some legs,” says Mike May, an executive at the association."

"To bolster the game’s appeal, USA Rugby is launching a college premier league next month that will see teams compete in four regional “conferences”, with the top two from each conference heading to playoffs in May. The league’s promoters hope it will act as a magnet for high-school players, as well as introducing rugby to more students."

"The sport in America also stands to gain from the fact that a seven-a-side version of rugby (as opposed to the standard 15-a-side contest) will be included in the 2016 and perhaps the 2020 Olympic games. The last time rugby featured in the Olympics, back in 1924, America won the gold medal. Although a repeat performance is unlikely in five years’ time in Rio de Janeiro, the prospect of representing the USA Eagles, as the national team is known, should attract more athletes to the game. Some impressive players already compete in an annual super league competition, which includes teams from some of America’s 2,400-odd rugby clubs."

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