Difference in being a 21yearold rugby player in USA compared to Australia
29 Oct 2006
Everyone knows that the most popular games in America are Baseball, Basket Ball, and finally what I perceive to be the most popular of all three, American Football. In saying that, a large percentage of young teenagers grow up wanting to play those sports professionally for whatever reason, maybe so their parents can be proud, maybe for the fame and fortune or maybe purely because they love the game. The problem arises when, they don’t make the team. There is no competition below the NFL, no feeder clubs into these highly regarded money making corporate enterprise teams, basically if your not on the college team you are likely never to make it big time pro’s.
So for a player who is not on the run on team at College and doesn’t want to be on a scrimmage team at College for the sole reason to act as artificial human defense machine for the run on team - They have the option to come to Rugby where they can actually get on the field in a proper game and actually release some physical aggression on the other team, without the pads and helmets!
They have little or know idea about the concept of the game, as the season progresses they pick up the game structure and get an idea of what it’s about. They are apart of a team where everyone is on the field playing their hearts out.
In Australia, rugby would be in the top four sports in terms of popularity and player involvement behind soccer, cricket and probably Australian Rules football. Like American football, players aspire to play professionally from a young age. They are brought up watching the game with their fathers. A big difference is, if they do not make it professionally, they are not forced to abandoned the game all together like Gridiron, that in my mind is a critical difference to a rugby player in Australia and America.
There are many very competitive club competitions that allow players still to enjoy college life or working in a career. The level of playing standard is very strong and that level is maintained for a longer period of time. Having these competitive club competitions allows players who may want to take a chance at cracking into the professional league possible and I think at least every year for the past 5 years, there has been three to five players scouted from the club competitions to sign professional contracts. These players ages range from 20 yrs old to 27 yrs old. A much more dynamic age bracket than American football. There’s more to rugby in Australia than just playing, it’s the contacts you make from all over the world, the camaraderie of playing with your friends and having a beer after the game with the opposition.
So will American rugby ever become as competitive as countries like Australia and New Zealand? Well, it’s hard to say The United States most diffenatly has the athletes for it to happen. It’s more of a case of promoting the game from a younger age. I mean it’s so hard to compete with these other games that are as though they are not even sports. They are more like commercial entertainment machines for the fans. They attract the fans and they make the money. There are organizations like playrugby.com that are starting to realize that there is a market for promotion of the game to the younger school kids to encourage them to start playing from an early age before they get sucked into the corporate football money making enterprise machine………Time will tell.