In just one short year, an Olympic presence, a nationally televised championship, and the movie Invictus have hurled rugby into the American sports universe.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Austin, TX - (Zpryme) – 06/07/10 – Just hours after an electrifying weekend of United States finest collegiate teams competing for the Rugby Sevens College Championship in Ohio, Americans, marketers, and the media are taking a step back to assess if rugby is an opportunity worth its weight in blood, sweat, and after match beers.
Almost two years ago, a representative of Zpryme wrote an article that described the momentum that rugby had garnered in the United States. Back in 2008 rugby in the U.S. although popular among high school and club teams (collegiate and organized men and women teams) was still trying to find its place on the American sports spectrum. It’s amazing what less than two years can yield; since 2008 rugby in the U.S. has welcomed three significant milestones:
- Rugby sevens is now recognized as an Olympic sport and will make its debut in the 2016 Summer Olympics (coincidently rugby was a recognized back in 1924 where the U.S. actually won gold - meaning that the U.S. will be defending its win in Rio, Brazil).
- NBC broadcasted the first Rugby Sevens Collegiate Championship this past weekend (June 5-6), marking it as the first time college rugby games have appeared on broadcast national television.
- Invictus, a film about South African President Nelson Mandela joining forces with the captain of South Africa's rugby team to help unite their country grossed more than $120 million USD (earned $37.4 million in the United States and $84.5 million overseas).
That said, a glaring simple fact that Hollywood and NBC are interested in the fast-paced-field-battle shows the level that the ‘industry’ believes the sport can achieve. To boot, companies such as Toyota, Anheuser Busch, Subway, and Geico signed on to sponsor this past weekend’s Rugby Sevens Collegiate Championship with a major contribution coming from the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks Mark Cuban (actually a former rugby player that played at University of Indiana). Nigel Melville, CEO and President of Rugby Operations at USA Rugby relayed to Zpryme today that, “the Eagles have qualified for the 2011 Rugby World Cup, Rugby has been accepted as an Olympic Sport in 2016, mainstream broadcasters are showing interest in a number of our events, Invictus spiked the interest in Hollywood and much much more is happening across the Country at every level. It’s all about the 1%’s, lots of little things contributing to the whole and everyone driving the game to a better place".
Combine the recent events above plus industry blue chips that have given rugby their backing, and add the 100,000 youth that started playing in just the last twelve months and the U.S. has a sport that is just waiting to burst out in every community. While industry insiders brood on the potential for rugby to compete with baseball, basketball, or football audiences, one development is certain, just like the athletes that train hard week-in week-out this sport is determined to one day soon become an American sports staple.
Congratulations to all the collegiate athletes that competed this past week in Ohio and the U.S. Men's National Rugby Team for defeating Russia in Colorado yesterday.
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About USA Rugby
USA Rugby is the national governing body for the sport of rugby in the United States with the dream to “To Inspire America to Fall in Love with Rugby”. Go to www.usarugby.org to learn more about how you can get involved with rugby in the U.S. today.