As a relatively young person living in the United States, when I heard about PRO Rugby USA earlier this year, I became ecstatic. I thought “I’m 18, when I finish college I can go play professional rugby in America like I’ve wanted to for a long time.” Although this may be a pipe dream for me, it is a very possible reality for those who are much more athletically gifted than I. PRO Rugby gives a place to look forward to for young American kids who discover the sport and would otherwise be turned off by it because there is no big league in their country.
In America, where professional sports symbols and athletes are bombarded into our everyday life, it is hard to sometimes find a sport that really appeals to us. If it isn’t put on TV or the players don’t get paid, then it is virtually inaccessible to young people. Children look at the NFL and they see larger than life players who can accomplish these amazing feats of athleticism, and they want to be like that. The characters of rugby are just as large and heroic, but who would know? It’s not on ESPN or Facebook and it’s not being talked about on the local news so how would the American youth know? That’s where PRO Rugby USA has the opportunity to change the dynamic. It is currently in its infancy, but in the next 5-10 years it has the makings of surpassing the popularity of soccer in the United States as the 5th most popular sport behind “The big four.”
As the 2016 season of PRO Rugby began, it only seemed fitting to choose a team to root for, which ended up being the San Diego Breakers. It was a refreshing and pleasant experience closely viewing the season of a brand new team in a brand new competition. Even though the Breakers had a pretty poor second half of the season, they played with heart and passion and the relatively small fan base that the team had on twitter were very friendly and enjoyed the team as much as I did. The same seems to be evident for all of the other teams in the league apart from the San Francisco Rush, who had an abysmal season. By having strong, passionate fan bases that are willing to spread the word of their favorite team to their friends and children, PRO Rugby will experience a huge boom in years to come.
PRO Rugby USA gives benefit for young children players as idols to look up to, and it provides an outlet of support for adult ruggers, but apart from that, it gives high school and college players a possible future. When the CRC or the Varsity cup actually comes up on TV and you get a chance to watch it, these unbelievable players from schools such as Cal, Life, Arkansas State, or Clemson (the best team in the country), give spectacular performances, absolutely demolishing the opposition. After those tournaments are over, we never hear of these players again or know anything about their career. By starting a professional league and if PRO Rugby does the smart thing by implementing a draft, it will increase attraction and draw to the league by people who are fans of those respective schools. It also gives incentive for collegiate rugby players to work out and work hard and hone their skills in order to become a professional player.
In conclusion, PRO Rugby has the potential to be unbelievably successful and it will inevitably create a large amount of interest in the sport. It will bring in fans of all ages and make rugby a household name. In my opinion, in the future there will be posters on kids walls of Sebastian Kalm, Takudzwa Ngwenya, or Perry Baker instead of Odell Beckham, Stephan Curry, or Bryce Harper. If Americans embrace rugby how rugby is embracing America, then there is a bright road ahead.