Can / will rugby ever turn pro in the United States

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Will rugby ever become pro in the US?

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Post by welliamwibb on Mon 11 Jun 2012, 5:15 pm

I fear that one day this will happen, but it also excites me.

Would be great to see another large western nation implement a professional league.

The only way I can think of this taking of is if someone who is VERY rich and has a genuine interest in rugby finance the set up of a professional league and keeps flooding it with money until it grows in stature and the advertising kicks off. Come on Sir Terry Matthews! He got rich in Canada, that place would be a start!

Unless it's one of the big 4 US sports it seems hard to break in and take a piece of the pie. Various soccer leagues have come and failed over the decades, but I believe rugby could do better. I think this because it has similarities to football, offers something different, but keeping the physicality.

It would open up a whole new world for rugby. The best players at the moment would be tempted over there instead of places like France and Japan.

I can imagine how many players would get poached from football or given a second chance at rugby as they didn't meet NFL requirements. The advantage the USA would have would be brute strength and pace to make up for their lack of rugby knowledge. We would hopefully beat them in game intelligence, skills and tactical play.

If rugby went pro in the US you can guarantee you would see a matchday squad of 22 George Norths, just bigger
and better.


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Post by Guest on Mon 11 Jun 2012, 5:30 pm

The thing with the USA is they have an amazing system for producing athletes, if all of their attention wasnt on American Football (which cannot be helped as it is so engrained within the culture of a lot of American towns, cities, states) and focused on Rugby, they would truly be a force.

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Post by welliamwibb on Mon 11 Jun 2012, 5:33 pm

IronMike wrote:The thing with the USA is they have an amazing system for producing athletes, if all of their attention wasnt on American Football (which cannot be helped as it is so engrained within the culture of a lot of American towns, cities, states) and focused on Rugby, they would truly be a force.

Yep the potential is scary. I hope Japan start churning out lots of little Shane Williams's. Their football has improved over the last 20 years, but I hope their domestic rugby system keeps on improving.

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Post by welshy6 on Mon 11 Jun 2012, 5:56 pm

i think if rugby XV was an olympic sport it may cause america to take more notice, i mean they would love the chance to get another medal and a chance to beat china.

i mean china have put all their money in 7's now they know it will be in the olympics so maybe if XV's was introduced it may have the same effect with the US?

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Post by LordDowlais on Mon 11 Jun 2012, 6:01 pm

I read something somewhere a few years back that the U.S.A were putting everything in place for a pro rugby league. It was along the lines of being fed up with being beaten by little countries like Wales and that they cannot take any more woopings from their neighbour to the north Canada. They were talking along the lines of a twelve state league to start with then seeing how big it could grow and then have a conference type league like they do in American football. The players they were going to target were the people who could not quite make it in American football. All this was going to be funded by the government and was going to to be pushed in the colleges. I do not know how far this has gotten but I read this about five years ago, but I know for a fact through family who live in Boston that rugby is growing at a rate of knots over there as it is high scoring and physical and there is now a chance of a career in another sport if you are big and athletic and cannot ice skate and cannot play soccer or American football.

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Post by welliamwibb on Mon 11 Jun 2012, 6:04 pm

Have you seen the movie the Departed?

At the beginning the Police play the Fire dept in rugby.

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Post by sirBiggles on Mon 11 Jun 2012, 6:07 pm

You have to remember that Rugby was a sport in the States before American (Grid Iron) football. Grid Iron actually evolved from Rugby.

Having been to the States many many times, and found myself on many occassions watching a Wales game in a sports bar out there, I dont believe Rugby will ever take off, as they dont understand it (the average Joe) and it doesn't lend itself to the level of commercialism the Americans come to expect with their sports, ie. a sport that allows the advertisers to run ads every 5 mins (at the least).

Football (soccer) has never really taken off, and if you fail to get football to fly in the States, with all the world coverage that has, then rugby doesnt stand a chance.

I believe it will continue to be a game played by the American's who like physical ball games but are not "big" enough to play Grid Iron.

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Post by Shifty on Mon 11 Jun 2012, 6:11 pm

I thought they already were professional over there? Headscratch
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Post by welliamwibb on Mon 11 Jun 2012, 6:14 pm

sirBiggles wrote:You have to remember that Rugby was a sport in the States before American (Grid Iron) football. Grid Iron actually evolved from Rugby.

Having been to the States many many times, and found myself on many occassions watching a Wales game in a sports bar out there, I dont believe Rugby will ever take off, as they dont understand it (the average Joe) and it doesn't lend itself to the level of commercialism the Americans come to expect with their sports, ie. a sport that allows the advertisers to run ads every 5 mins (at the least).

Football (soccer) has never really taken off, and if you fail to get football to fly in the States, with all the world coverage that has, then rugby doesnt stand a chance.

I believe it will continue to be a game played by the American's who like physical ball games but are not "big" enough to play Grid Iron.

Yep I thought about this too. Could you imagine the networks waiting 45/50 minutes to show commercials. The only way they could do it is if the halftime period was filled entirely with adverts and then we get no half time analysis or pundits etc...

Football is hard to understand when you first watch it. Like rugby I think it just takes patience and to watch a few matches before it sinks in.

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Post by Mr Fishpaste on Mon 11 Jun 2012, 6:20 pm

I did see a stat somewhere saying rugby is the fastest growing sport in the US, but that is from a very small base. It'll have a lot of work to do to divert attention from AMerican Football.

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Post by Shifty on Mon 11 Jun 2012, 7:13 pm

Mr Fishpaste wrote:I did see a stat somewhere saying rugby is the fastest growing sport in the US, but that is from a very small base. It'll have a lot of work to do to divert attention from AMerican Football.

It is VERY rare for a newly introduced sport to take over a country. The only examples I can think of are Basketball replacing cricket in the West Indies, and football's J-League taking over Japan, which has had horrific results for most other sports, especially rugby where tv coverage is a lot lower than it was in the 80's and 90's.
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Post by Biltong on Mon 11 Jun 2012, 7:18 pm

If the Americans ever do decide to commit money to pro rugby, you will see salaries go past million pounds per year.
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Post by jeffwinger on Mon 11 Jun 2012, 7:20 pm

If Rugby could draw on some of the Gridiron drop outs then there would be a huge volume of physically capable players. There are hundreds of High School football teams, whittled down to just 32 pro franchises, via the Colleges. Every year thousands of players don't make it from high school to college football and from college to the NFL. All of those guys will be tremendous athletes, and there is no amateur or lower league provision in Gridiron. If 1% of these guys could be encouraged into rugby they'd have some serious prospects, 10% and they'd probably have depth to rival NZ. Obviously they'd have to learn the game but physically the transition would be fairly straight forward.

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Post by kingjohn7 on Mon 11 Jun 2012, 7:26 pm

sirBiggles wrote:You have to remember that Rugby was a sport in the States before American (Grid Iron) football. Grid Iron actually evolved from Rugby.

Having been to the States many many times, and found myself on many occassions watching a Wales game in a sports bar out there, I dont believe Rugby will ever take off, as they dont understand it (the average Joe) and it doesn't lend itself to the level of commercialism the Americans come to expect with their sports, ie. A SPORT THAT ALLOWS THE ADVERTISERS TO RUN ADS EVERY 5 MINS (AT THE LEAST).

Football (soccer) has never really taken off, and if you fail to get football to fly in the States, with all the world coverage that has, then rugby doesnt stand a chance.

I believe it will continue to be a game played by the American's who like physical ball games but are not "big" enough to play Grid Iron.

Would have to disagree mate. There are plenty of opportunities during a game when you could run a 20sec advert without missing any 'action', scrums, injuries etc.
Obviously if this actually happened it would make me want to blow my brains out, but they are accustomed to it.
With regards to OP I have no idea, never been there, but the more major competitors the better as long as we dont let them boss it.

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Post by Biltong on Mon 11 Jun 2012, 7:30 pm

I agree with kingjohn.

I was actually thinking about this last night.

Every time a kick is taken to post, you can easily have a pop up ad on the side that takes up a portion of the screen, it takes 1 minute to take a goal kick.

a 30 second ad can easily fit in, and it won't affect the gama in any way.

Average of ten kicks at goal per match, plenty of opportuntiy for braodcasters to make extra money
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Post by Cymroglan on Mon 11 Jun 2012, 7:30 pm

America is the last place that I would like to see rugby being developed.
They would just commercialise it beyond all recognition and the first step would probably have four quarters to make room for advertisement.

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Post by kingjohn7 on Mon 11 Jun 2012, 7:37 pm

Biltong good idea, I didnt even think of that. To be fair I dont think that would bother me too much, could be good way of making some money.

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Post by GeordieFalcon on Mon 11 Jun 2012, 8:15 pm

Its well known that rugby is being used in the ganglands in compton La etc as a means of getting people away...and by all accounts the athletes are unreal....
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/rugby-in-the-hood-1451415.html

Im not sure they'll be world champions anytime soon...but they will come on.

Canda also who were strong in the early 90's etc have never built on it...

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Post by doctor_grey on Mon 11 Jun 2012, 9:14 pm

I do think it will take a while for Rugby to generate enough interest in the US and/or Canada for a pro league to take off. But, it is growing at a phenominal rate though the base is small. Coaching my lads over here in New Jersey, I have asked parents why they want their kids playing Rugby. The most common answers are values (this IS huge), not militaristic as American Football, everyone touches the ball, and everyone attacks and defends. In other words, a lot more involvement. The kids usually say the same thing, except they don't have the adult perspective on the values. Kids programmes are growing very quickly, and this is the future and next generation..

The advert thing is interesting. Yes, they will want tv adverts at breaks in play. But League does this, at least in Aus, and there is really no loss in flow (to me, at any rate). But it is interesting there are no adverts on the jerseys, uniforms, etc.. Sometimes the clothing manufacturer is visible, but nothing else. So there is a trade-off: tv adverts v. clean jerseys.

I would say give it about 10 years and they should be ready. Although the Olympic version is 7s, to grow it will need to filter through the clubs and they will lead the 7s types into proper 15s.

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Post by lostinwales on Mon 11 Jun 2012, 9:26 pm

Well it has become a much more popular college game - and there was that film....

A mexican friend of mine who did his PhD in the UK always thought it would be a great game for mexico as you dont need all the expensive equipment that you do for American football - to some degree its the same for the US proper.

It could happen but it more than likely it will take a couple of generations of people playing it at college and spreading the word beyond - so I dont think it will happen fast - but there is every chance that a strong amateur scene can continue to develop.

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Post by InjuredYetAgain on Tue 12 Jun 2012, 5:13 pm

No although if it does it will only be for 7's. It is made for US TV with short games, simple rules and plenty of time for Wally Hamburger III and his wife, Mary Lou, to get a double burger every 20 minutes

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Post by fa0019 on Tue 12 Jun 2012, 5:21 pm

It won't happen. American football is ingrained in their national identity. They don't need it to become prolific however... they have more players than many home nations countries but the crucial thing they tend to start at college for instance rather than at child level.

If the US can get a couple of states playing rugby at age grade then they will become a force.

If they did take over football however.. they would wipe the floor with everyone... their backline would be devestating... their packs well over 1000kg.

We rave about Habana being a 10.4 man at the 100 sprint... 10.4 wouldn't even get a state final in the US.

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Post by Mr Fishpaste on Tue 12 Jun 2012, 7:55 pm

fa0019 wrote:It won't happen. American football is ingrained in their national identity. They don't need it to become prolific however... they have more players than many home nations countries but the crucial thing they tend to start at college for instance rather than at child level.

If the US can get a couple of states playing rugby at age grade then they will become a force.

If they did take over football however.. they would wipe the floor with everyone... their backline would be devestating... their packs well over 1000kg.

We rave about Habana being a 10.4 man at the 100 sprint... 10.4 wouldn't even get a state final in the US.

I agree with the first half more-or-less, but, regarding the second half, I don't think their players will necessarily be bigger/faster. In the 15 years since rugby became professional, players sizes increased, but they seemed to have reached a plateau in proportions. Perhaps modern rugby players have settled into an optimum size range. Gridiron players can get so much bigger and quicker, because positions are so ultra specialised, so linemen can get huge because they don't need endurance, and wide-receivers can focus on speed because they don't need to pass/kick/tackle. That said, the US has a large population to draw on, so there might be some extraordinary monsters in there...on the other hand large population doesn't equate to good rugby (NZ's population is not huge, neither are the PI's! and they don't do too badly)

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Post by GeordieFalcon on Tue 12 Jun 2012, 8:21 pm

lostinwales wrote:Well it has become a much more popular college game - and there was that film....

A mexican friend of mine who did his PhD in the UK always thought it would be a great game for mexico as you dont need all the expensive equipment that you do for American football - to some degree its the same for the US proper.

It could happen but it more than likely it will take a couple of generations of people playing it at college and spreading the word beyond - so I dont think it will happen fast - but there is every chance that a strong amateur scene can continue to develop.

Well they started off the road to the world cup 2015 in style.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AInjupEeHlo

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Post by mystiroakey on Tue 12 Jun 2012, 8:28 pm

can and will are very different questions dude.

can it- offcourse,

will it- it would be nice to think it would. but it probally wont.

Obviously the US have american football because they wanted a game similar to rugby but with there own take on it. They change our stuff about. But what they have done is simplified the rules and cut out this refs interpretation- a problem that blights rugby. So it just cant and wont compete with the USA population off today! I mean lets be honest our game is pretty ridiculas when you compare it to simpler sports(that doesnt mean its worse though- which it isnt!!)

the only way rugby union will become a pro sport in the US is from immigrant population going there playing it.. If it gets developed in South America through Argentina- then there will be a chance

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Post by Thomond on Tue 12 Jun 2012, 10:26 pm

A secondary American football league is to be formed soon, so the window to establish a professional league could close soon. They are running the USFL again as a feeder league. People would show more interest in that and the NFL than rugby.

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