November 1 marked an important day for all those who enjoy the sport of rugby. On a frosty day at Chicago’s Soldier Field, the US Eagles took on the dominant and world number one team, the New Zealand All Blacks for the second time and the first time on American soil. Unfortunately, but as expected, the All Blacks crushed the United States 74-6 in front of a stadium full of American rugby fans. Although the outcome of the game was not as many US rugby fans would have dreamed of, there are still many positives to the game, including the sold-out Chicago Bears football stadium.
Bringing in the number one rugby club in the world was obviously going to generate some publicity, but the amount that was generated was truly a surprise. The game drew people from all over the US to watch one of the most phenomenal, action-packed and entertaining sports in the world and to see it played by some of the best players in the world. It was truly a pleasure for the fans here in the US who until now have not had the opportunity to see this sport live in person at the highest level. The thrill of seeing your first live game of the sport you love is a feeling that is not easily overcome, and I’m sure it’s a feeling that many US rugby fans were able to enjoy.
In recent years, rugby has started to grow in the United States, more and more people are not only hearing about aggressive fun to watch a sport that they never knew existed, but are now occasionally watching it on standard television. For those who tuned in to NBC Sport on November 1, they were able to see some fantastic athleticism and some crunchy tackles too. Rugby is now played in most colleges across the country and even many high schools in certain areas are starting programs and getting children to play the sport at an earlier age. Playing rugby in the United States is now much easier to do than it was a couple of years ago and should continue to grow more.
Events like taking the All Blacks to face the Unproven, US Eagles in Chicago are fantastic to help spread awareness of the sport and build excitement among their fans. Hosting an event like the one played on November 1 brings together the few fans across the country who have taken to the sport and, albeit inadvertently, are spreading the joy of rugby to others who know little or nothing about the sport. that is practiced and loved in many corners of the world.
Rugby in the United States is moving in a great direction and soon, hopefully, it will become one of the best sports played and watched in the country at some point in the not-too-distant future. With the excitement that this contact sport can generate, it will be surprising not to see the popularity of this sport as an aerial rocket, as more and more people know it in one form or another.