Thursday, August 22, 2013

Why the United States Would Love Rugby and Why the Game Will Likely Never Take Off Here

Rugby is one of the most popular games in the world, but for some reason barely has a foothold in the sports loving minds inside of the United States. It is likely because folks just don't know about it, because if they did they would realize that it is non-stop action that is intense, hard-hitting and just flat out awesome.

It's got everything that Americans love in sports. This hit in a recent game between Bedford and Northampton is a perfect example:

Awesome right? Once you get the rules and can follow the game it is even better! Maybe as the '16 Summer Olympics approach and welcome back 7's rugby folks in the U.S. will get interested when they realize that their team is the defending gold medal team (all be it from a century ago).

Die-hard football fans may may the hit Courtney Lawes (the  big dude in the yellow) puts on Mike Le Bourgeois (the little dude in blue). Kind of looks a lot like the one that Jonathan Bostic put on Mike Willie in Week Two of the preseason.

@hoopgifs/Twitter
There in lies the problem. After initially praising the hit Bostic lays on Willie the NFL has decided to fine him; they say he led with the crown of his helmet. To most people it looked pretty darn close to a textbook tackle (wrapped him--sort of--with his shoulder in his chest and head on the outside so he wouldn't land on it).

Just like in the rugby play. 

At the rate it is going, the NFL is going to make the game not a fun to watch. It's bad enough that celebrations have been all but stopped, but the league is making the allowable area for a player to get hit smaller and smaller every season. 

True, they are doing it because they have the health of the players in mind, but I think these guys know what they are getting into when they strap on the pads.

What I am worried about when it comes to rugby coming to the U.S. (the NFL is supposedly going to be teaming up with the Premier Rugby Limited to start a league in the U.S. next year) is that it will be over legislated by people in the U.S. and they will ruin the game.

Yes, injuries are a concern just like they are in football, but the right way to combat them is not to over-legislate the game. If coaches train their players to use technique rather than their bodies as battering rams injuries can be minimized.

But as we can see from the last NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement the players are looking to practice less and hit as seldom as possible. Kind of hard to do things the right way if you don't practice.

Don't get me wrong--I hope the U.S. does get a pro rugby league and it does well. I'm just afraid that folks will start crying foul when someone breaks a bone or gets a concussion and then try to 'fix it' and make it safer--like the NFL (No Fun League).

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