Today the USA will be playing Scotland for contention for 9th place in the Junior World Championship. Over the last week we have seen the USA get absolutely demolished by elite tier teams such as South Africa, France, and recently, a Junior World Championship record breaking, 109-0 loss to England. There is no doubt that one can be critical of the way that the USA has played. Whether it’s because there is a lack of fundamentals being consistently maintained by the players, poor coaching or whether it’s because the level competition is significantly higher than the USA. For whatever the reason, the USA has had its slew of problems in this championship.
This afternoon, the USA has a chance to rectify the situation. If the USA doesn’t come in the bottom two of the JWC, they will have a chance to return for competition next year. They are facing a Scotland team that has struggled throughout this championship games. This will be a competition that seems more worth for the USA to be able to handle. They Scottish team is not particularly fast, they are significantly stronger, they aren’t great ball handlers. The type of talent that the USA team has faced in their pool play will not be a factor in this game. The Scotland team has struggled in the weakest of the three pools, playing teams Argentina, Wales and Samoa, opposed to the USA having played two of the four teams in the semi-final rounds.
I fully expect that the USA will be able to win this game against Scotland. If USA players like fullback Conor Kearns can prevent himself from knocking on passes, and center Mike Teo can make key open field tackles, and hooker, Cameron Falcon, can continue to make the plays and throw in’s he is supposed to, and the rest of the team can trust their teammates and do their jobs without overthinking, I absolutely believe that the USA can handle this Scotland team.
The game will be played at 1pm CST and can be found streaming on IRB.com. We’ll see what happens when the USA shows they have something to prove in this competition.
CEO/Founder of Gift-Time Rugby Network
The Louisiana Exiles began their 2013 South Regional Tournament, a two day tournament that was held at Life University in Marietta, Ga on June 15-16, 2013. The tournament, consisting of 9 teams from around the South, including teams from Tennessee, Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina and North Carolina, began play with three divisional pools that held three teams apiece.
The tournament serves as an opportunity for high school players to be observed by national selectors for a chance to try out for the USA High School All-American team, a squad of U-20 players comprised of the best players in the country.
Exiles v. Tristar Red
The Exiles began against Tennessee’s Tristar Red in a physically tolling match from the onslaught. The match had an instant scent of resentment as only five minutes in Scrumhalf Brennan Falcon was yellow carded for a high tackle. Just moments later, Flanker Keith Jones joined Falcon in the sin bin for another high tackle call that had fans from both teams displeased.
With only 13 men on the pitch, the Exiles retained possession and pushed down field off of some flawless set pieces. The ball was pushed into the try zone that convinced the touch judge it was a legitimate try but was quickly disregarded by the referee, Nigel Platt, and was ruled held up.
Tristar cleared the lines on a not-binding penalty off the scrum and pushed the Exile back into their half. With the two man advantage, Tristar crept inside the Exile 22 off of take and go’s from their forwards. A much controversial call ensued when the Tristar #9 knocked on into the try zone then touched down by a Tristar player and to everyone’s surprises was awarded the try.
The Exiles had to play the rest of their match conservatively due to the numerous penalty calls and it allowed Tristar to push forward and retain possession although the Exiles showed superiority throughout the match. Tristar knocked over two penalties to lead 13-0 late in the match.
On a quick tap deep in Tristar’s 22, Falcon bullied over two would-be tacklers and dotted down in the corner for the try. Cameron Troxler converted from the sideline to make it 13-7 with only seconds remaining. Troxler was terrific with the boot controlling territory for the Exiles all weekend.
With time dwindling down, Louisiana was 10 meters from the Tristar try line until another penalty was awarded against the Exiles. The ball was cleared into touch and a bitter Exile team held their heads high through all the adversity they faced. Final score 13-7 Tristar.
Exiles v. South Carolina Palmetto
Brushing off the earlier defeat, the Exiles were eager to get another match before the day was over. This time against one of the two South Carolina squads. The match, as was the first, was played on Life University’s upper field, which was slippery and caked with mud throughout much of the midfield making running a bit of a challenge. Regardless, the Exiles made opportunities out of nothing in this heavily weighed match.
Exchanging kicks downfield consumed a majority of the first 5 minutes for both teams. The breakthrough came when a clearance kick attempt by Palmetto’s fullback was blocked by multiple Exile forwards then pounced on by Troxler to take a 5-0 lead.
Only ten minutes later Palmetto answered back through tight forwards play that eventually broke through the Exile defensive line tying the contest 5-5.
After the halftime break, the Exiles again were quick to make amends for a slow first half. The overload was evident and sent wide through the hands all the way to the corner to Wing Joey Morris who grounded it one meter from touch. An unsuccessful conversion saw it a close contest 10-5 in the Exiles’ favor.
The remainder of the half saw attack after attack thwarted by minuscule penalties and free kicks. This allowed Palmetto to secure a place inside the Exiles’ half for a majority of the second half. With two minutes remaining on the clock, a crooked feed free kick was awarded to Palmetto at their own five meter line. The tap was taken quickly and swung wide into the corner for the try. A very close conversion attempt was just wide but time still remained for a restart.
The kickoff was weighted beautifully 10 meters by Center Ryan Marciante and taken in the air by Second Row, converted from flyhalf, Alex Shultz. With no time remaining, Falcon launched the ball wide to Marciante who broke the line into the Palmetto five meter line before offloading to a speedy support runner in Wing Kaine Martin who scored under the post for a shocking last second victory. The conversion was drop kicked and missed to bring the final score to 15-10 Exiles.
The championship bracket was divided into the best teams from each pool and the best runner-up in a four team playoff. The final four remaining teams were set in the plate bracket. The Exiles, having been the number five seed, were seeded as the number one seed in the plate bracket to face South Carolina Crescent in the morning.
Plate Semifinal: Exiles v. South Carolina Crescent
Wearing a badge of vengeance on their sleeves with everything to prove, the Exiles squared off in the plate semifinal against South Carolina Crescent. This match was played on Life University’s beautiful lower level field with just a little morning dew ,soon to be evaporated, remaining on the pitch.
Not to be under looked, the Exiles were relentless in defense and caused numerous problems at the lineouts and scrums for Crescent. Eightman Todd Dupre was superb on the day stealing every opposing lineout in midflight as well as causing havoc at the rucks for the Crescent offense. An excellently diverse front row, comprised of Vincent Duhe’, Ottis ‘Cheese’ Laige and Jay Driggers, laid bone crunching engagements on opposing teams the whole tournament to make restarts hectic for the opposition.
In stereotypical fashion, the forwards hammered away punch after punch all the way into the Crescent half setting up the backs for overloads all match. The first try was only two minutes in when a nice break from Center Ben Gambino led to a tight offload to Falcon who pushed away a defender for the try under the sticks. Troxler converted for the 7-0 lead.
Without any hesitation on the ensuing kickoff, Keith Jones continued to do what he did all weekend and demolished the receiving player from Crescent. Jones was a riot in the midfield, delivering punishing shoulder charges on offense and bone trembling hits on defense. While nursing a hamstring injury throughout the entire tournament he played amazingly for the Exile pack.
Aiding the destruction path was the stellar second row, converted from center, Alex Johnson who laid the wood like it was his day job. Not worrying about his own physical being, he terrorized defenses with bruising runs that usually ended up flat-backing opponents. The University of Louisiana at Lafayette Football newcomer proved why he was highly recruited by the Ragin’ Cajuns.
Crescent retained possession well for five minutes, which was short-lived when Joe Caravella poached a clean ball before offloading to Falcon who spun it wide. Troxler saw Gambino who shoved it off to Marciante on a break before dishing it to the sideline for Martin who scored in the corner. Troxler was unsuccessful leaving it 12-0 in favor of the Exiles. An Exile penalty was awarded at the Crescent 22, which Troxler held true to take the halftime lead to 15-0 in favor of Louisiana.
The second half was the same story. Falcon broke free for another one, scoring his second try on the day. Marciante also added a try after turning the corner in the try zone and scoring in the middle. The Exiles couldn’t keep the shutout however, when Crescent quick tapped a penalty on the Exile 5 meter line. A brave tackle was made by 13-year old and soon-to-be Jesuit Blue Jay Gabriel Massey that held the Crescent winger short of the line but on a second attempt for the line saw him score the try.
Louisiana prevailed the victors 27-5 in a dominate showcase of hard knocks rugby and punched their ticket into the Plate Championship match against South Carolina Palmetto in rematch of the first day’s close encounter.
Plate Final: Exiles v. South Carolina Palmetto
Relishing in their victory and eager to take home some hardware the Exiles kept a straight head and composed themselves well. Speaking amongst one another prior to the match about the specifics of the game plan exemplified the camaraderie and chemistry this team had formed after only a few short weeks together.
Troxler played the territory well to force the Palmetto back three into a flurry as the Exile kick chase was dazzling in pursuit. The early pressure paid off when Dupre stole a lineout inside the Palmetto 22. Falcon pushed it to Gambino who eluded two defenders creating an overload on the weak side. Marciante skipped wide to Fullback Lester Duhe’ who drew in a defender to allow Morris to score on the outside. Duhe’ was barely wide right on the corner conversion making it a 5-0 Exile lead.
Along with the inimitable play by Johnson and Jones, Flanker Jon Turner, converted from scrumhalf, turned lineouts and scrums into a nightmare for the Palmetto flyhalf. Laying stinging hits to anyone and everyone in the first receiver slot, Turner spared no prisoners on the weekend.
It was a deep Palmetto attack that got the Exiles on the back foot with well-timed runs penetrating the gain line on numerous occasions. Palmetto was only a meter away from the try when a combining hit by Alex Johnson and Joe Caravella caused a relieving knock on.
The ball was cleared by Troxler but then quickly advanced back into the Exile 22 before a jaw dropping hit by Vincent Duhe’ and Keith Jones drew a penalty and a yellow card for Jones. Down to 14 men, the Exiles played conventional defense to avoid the Palmetto forwards to break the line. Louisiana counter rucked and booted down field to finally remove Palmetto from their own half.
Later in the half, a kick pressured the Palmetto wing to clear the ball out the back of the try zone, prior to it advancing in, giving the Exiles a 5 meter scrum. Dupre picked and tossed to Falcon who hit Troxler. Troxler skipped Gambino to Marciante who pinned his ears back and slipped under the post. Troxler was successful and the Exiles led 12-0 at the half.
Being restored to full strength by the return of Jones, Palmetto couldn’t contain the attacks. Driggers had a bursting run taking down two defenders in the midfield setting up an attack by Wing Toney Hughes to Hooker Ottis ‘Cheese’ Laige. Laige was taken down from behind but not before he offloaded to a rapid Brennan Falcon who reached the try line with a defender on his back scoring his third try on the day. Troxler pulled the conversion right as the Exiles held the 17-0 lead.
Hughes was a menace for the Exiles defense. He hit rucks with pace and made ground level tackles stopping any attack from advancing out wide. Morris also tracked down a Palmetto wing on a clear break down the sideline catching him from behind, and with the help of Falcon, they forced him into touch.
The Exile fans began to slowly raise the noise level as they knew the match was moments from being over and the anticipation perspired from them. The last play of the match saw the Palmetto team awarded a penalty try after a high tackle call within the Exile 5 meter line. With that penalty came the final whistle and yet another championship victory to the already impressive track record of the Louisiana Exile All Star team.
(NOTE: The Palmetto player was seriously injured on the final play causing an abrupt stop to the victory celebration. Our thoughts and prayers go out to this young man.)
The tournament exposed some promising young ruggers to top-level competition and exposure. USA High School All-Americans selectors were present and spoke to the coaches about several players on the team leading into the camps later in the summer.
Alex Schultz, Mississippi
Alex Johnson, Audubon
Ben Gambino, Brother Martin
Brennan Falcon, Archbishop Shaw
Cameron Troxler, Archbishop Shaw
Gabriel Massey, Audubon
Jay Driggers, Archbishop Shaw
Joe Caravella, Brother Martin
Joey Morris, Brother Martin
Jon Turner, Lake Area
Keith Jones, Audubon
Lester Duhe’, Brother Martin
Ottis ‘Cheese’ Leige, Lake Area
Ryan Marciante, Archbishop Shaw
Todd Dupre, Archbishop Shaw
Toney Hughes, Lake Area
Vincent Duhe’, Brother Martin
Kaine Martin, Archbishop Shaw
Head Coach: Adam Massey, NORFC
Assistant Head Coach: David Buckingham, NORFC
Forwards Coach: Nick Conte, NORFC
Backs Coach: Allen Alongi, LSU
Story is written by Allen Alongi
Follow at: @allenalongi
He is a former LSU and Archbishop Rummel Rugby player. He currently resides in New Orleans, LA
97-0 and 45-3. These are the scores from the first two games of the Junior World Championships that Team USA played against South Africa and France. USA enters into their last game of pool play 0-2 and they still have not been able to gather the concept of playing as a team with cohesion. When the USA played South Africa on June 5th, and lost 97-0, the South African team was just top to bottom better team than the USA. The South Africans have a much longer history of success with rugby, and have a deeper connection to rugby than the USA because it is one of their primary sports. While still painful for loss it can be excused.
Enter June 9th. USA played France for the second round of pool play. Within the first 15 minutes of play you can already seen the difference between the USA and the world. The lack cohesion is extremely apparent. Multiple knocks by fullback, Conor Keans, which costs an opportunity for continuous advancement. Within 20 minutes of the game, you see the USA lose a scoring opportunity when scrumhalf, Tom Bliss, has a break away and knocks the ball in the try zone to create the turnover for the USA team. Before half time the USA had lead in handling errors 6:2 in comparison to team France.
Before anyone tells you that this is a French team which has played together for a long time, and as a country has better experience in rugby, I can tell you from watching the film, this was not a significantly better French team in talent. France was none too smooth either. They played sloppy, made many bad lines that lead to poor passes. I have to give credit to the USA’s defense. In the first half keeping France to a 17-3 at half-time was extremely impressive.
Enter into the second half, the USA team looked like they were ready to bring the hammer to the French team. In a strong goal-line stand, the USA forwards prevented multiple attempts for the French forwards to score from just outside the goal-line. If not for a missed tackle by USA lock, Christian Ostberg, which opened up a hole for French wing, Gabriel Lacroix, to score. The first 20 minutes of the second half was made up of missed tackles that led to scoring opportunities for France. The final 20 minutes of the second half was made up of the USA forwards, who had played well for much of the game, getting absolutely annihilated in the scrums. Notably in the 52 minute of the game, the USA was in position to score their first try of the championships, and lost the ball in a knock. With the opportunity to win the scrum and set up for the try, the USA team got run over by an overpowering French front 8 and lost the scrum and their one scoring advantage.
The USA U-20 All-Stars are still letting the game get into their heads. They are thinking too much, and it’s wearing them down more than the opponents. Mental errors that lead to high penalties, high amount of handling errors, and just poor discipline, is a result of letting the game move too fast for them. I place the errors on head coach, Jason Kelly, and lack of experience from the USA team. Regardless, these players are considered the future stars and potential Olympic team participants for the USA in the near future. Hopefully with this last game against England today, they will be able to put something together that can bring the lessons of the last two games together.
USA plays England at 11:45am today for the final game of pool play. Can be seen at IRB.com.
CEO/Founder of Gift-Time Rugby Network
HOUSTON, as, June 12- It was a night for the record books for USA Rugby. Being a part of the largest ever crowd for an Eagles test match was a reward in itself. Fans from all around the country toting the red, white, and blue made their presence known from the early hours of the morning even with a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
The Eagles went on to lose the match to Ireland in an all kicking affair that finished 15-12 in favor of the visitors. This outcome marks the closest ever result to a tier one nation that the USA has ever been. Of course many will say the majority of the Irish starters are off in Australia for the Lions tour, however, there were an equal amount of professional players on each team, which speaks volumes for the present state of rugby growth and perception in the States.
Even with professionalism on a steady rise, the many qualities that originally defined the sport of rugby are still present. Hundreds of old boys could be seen in large groups speaking about past tours and run-ins. Tailgates in parking lots highlighted the camaraderie and brotherhood that binds us together. The ordinary trip to the bar usually ended with an opinionated exchange of words on what USA Rugby could be doing better. These things alike continue to construct a great alliance that will be visible for years to come.
The match began and along with it the physicality. The American back row consisted of three seasoned professionals with the likes of Todd Clever, Scott Lavalla and Samu Manoa who began laying the wood from the kickoff. The rucks were controlled well by the Americans but the Irish were smart to play the defensive approach. Their early initiatives were better seen during open play with their expansive, wide offensive attacks against the Eagles that fortunately yielded no results.
The Irish Flyhalf and Leinster Inside Center, Ian Madigan, would end up being the American antagonist as he punished the USA with his boot off the tee. The result of which came through some speculative and controversial calls from Francisco Pastrana, the head referee. Most of the penalties could have, to an extent, been justified but to the naked eye they posed no real infringements worthy of penalties. Madigan was quick to act on the first couple of penalties on the Amercian half sending the Irish into an early 6-0 advantage.
On the ensuing possession, a turn over ball for the Eagles saw Winger Luke Hume chip forward a beautifully weighed quick that bounced straight into his hands bringing the 40,000 person crowd to their feet. Only 5 meters out from the try line, with a not releasing advantage, the Eagles couldn’t break the Irish defense and settled for the 3 points.
The second half saw a few changes for the Eagles. Early in the first half, Second Row Brian Doyle was replaced due to a nasty head clash. Hume was later replaced in the second half for an ankle injury that happened in his first half heroics that almost gave the Eagles a try.
Ireland continued to add the penalties from more head-scratching calls by the referee but in return so did the Eagles. The closest stroke of glory came after Manoa scooped a grubber intended for Irish and Munster Winger Simon Zebo and booted it down the field 60 plus meters to clear the line. The ball slowly rolled into the Irish 22 meter line as the crowd again rose to their feet as the hardly noticeable Takudzwa Ngwenya soared down the pitch on the chase. The ball bounced unexpectedly into his hands as the Irish Fullback fell to his feet however the anticipation was short-lived as Ngwenya couldn’t handle the ball and knocked it on.
After that last spark of brilliance, the match began settling down in the Irish half the way the visitors hoped. With no time left on the clock and the Eagles historically close to their first win over a tier one nation, the Irish Scrum Half Issac Boss cleared it into touch to end the match. As bittersweet of an ending as it was, that experience will remain fresh in the minds of thousands upon thousands of Americans for years to come.
The thing that set this match apart from many previous tests is the simple yet obvious fact that after all the predictions the USA were in it until the absolute last whistle. Physically and mentally they brought and applied the pressure. Had the ball bounced their way on a few certain occasions then we could have been talking about one of the biggest upsets ever in world rugby.
As they have traditionally, the Eagles walked around the pitch to thank their fans for a great outing by offering autographs and pictures to onlookers. It ended up being a great night. Meeting Samu Manoa, Chris Biller, Luke Hume, Ian Madigan and Eagles Head Coach Mike Tolkin.
The after party at Lucy’s Pub had their fair share of Eagles as well down, playing their presence with ordinary tee-shirts and blue jeans. There I met the likes of Eagle’s Sevens players Colin Hawley and Zach Test. They entertained a nice conversation with me regarding the upcoming 2013 Sevens World Cup in Moscow over a cold beer.
Lastly, fresh off of surgery and hidden away amongst most Eagles fans, I spotted Paul Emerick posing for pictures with some overzealous female supporters. He too was more than obliged to have a conversation with me, this made me appreciate the way these players represent themselves.
All in all it was a great night. With more anticipation and hype surrounding the Eagles now it is just a matter of time until this sleeping giant awakens.
Follow on Twitter @AllenAlongi
Allen Alongi is a former LSU and Archbishop Rummel High School Rugby player. He currently resides in New Orleans, LA.
As we end another week, I wanted to pinpoint a few stories that stood out to me from the week. I think they signify the direction that the sport is going, and they stay to be commemorative of how the week went. Because a Ruggers life is never one that goes with out something eventful. Just so you know, the date is for when the event occurred, we just are bringing it to you all at once now. So here we go…
June 1, 2013
The new campaign that is now being pushed by USA Rugby, known as the workforit campaign, is the beginning of that time of the season….prep for the Olympics. You can find their story at workforit.org. You can tell that they are trying to push the USA as this up and coming powerhouse team and that you need to pay attention. And I think it’s a great idea. I think the whole concept at least makes it appear as if they care enough to make us care. But I hope this isn’t the best that they can do with it. They have a nice YouTube video that went with it, that i’ll admit, I had to watch twice because the first time it seemed really lame to me. But after seeing it a second time, it wasn’t bad. It’s nothing out the ordinary. It definitely could have a double usage as a Crossfit commercial if it ever became needed. But none the less, I find it to be a good start in the fight for building interest towards the USA team for the Olympics in 2016.
June 2, 2013
This is when New Orleans Gold won their bronze medal in Glendale, CO in the third place game against the Denver Barbarians 32-28. They put up a great defensive stand in the final seconds of the game to prevent the Barbarians from scoring and won the game. Especially after a tough game versus Seattle OPSB in the semi-finals, that lead to a loss and kicking them out of the national championship contention.
New Orleans getting the win has been so beneficial for Louisiana in multiple ways. In terms of recognition, the New Orleans Men’s team has allowed their to be an opening for spotlight on the rugby that occurs in Louisiana. Within the rugby community, much of it being centered around the west coast and the midwest, don’t consider Louisiana or the south to be a particularly good haven for rugby. When New Orleans entered into the round of 32, no one gave them a chance. And through every win that New Orleans had, it was as if there was no way that this could happen. And it wasn’t as if New Orleans beat these teams by the skin of their neck. These were big blowouts against these teams. So when each round magazines kept talking about shocker, Surprise, more shock. But the wins were consistent. It wasn’t until they lost to Seattle OPSB in the semi-finals did it seem like this was supposed to happen. And then New Orleans went and showed that they didn’t quit against a Denver Barbarian team that had come so close to beating the eventual champions, Life University, in the semi-finals. But throughout teams had to begin to recognize that tough, good rugby is no longer monopolized by the Mid-west and West coast anymore. And that the south has contenders as well.
Which brings me to the next reason why New Orleans playoff run was so important. As a current Baton Rouge Rugby Club player, New Orleans is our natural down road rival. It doesn’t matter when we’ve played them, when Baton Rouge and New Orleans go up against each other it’s a tough match. Now New Orleans has beat us more times than we’ve beaten them in the time that I have been playing, but it’s never felt like it was so terribly mismatched. The fact that New Orleans has continued to be so impactful on that national stage, because it means that the competition that we face with them is that much more meaningful. And any rugby player knows that better the competition, the better you will be. Whether we are playing New Orleans in 7’s or XV’s, it’s always worth the time because we know that these guys have battled some of the best in the country. The more we play them, the more we can pinpoint where we need to grow.
So, I congratulate New Orleans for there successes. They have built a great program from top to bottom and I wish them consistent success. Louisiana supports New Orleans, and let’s hope that their successes matriculate into the other programs around the state.
June 5, 2013
Don’t worry, we’re almost done… I wanted to mention the Junior World Championship game because of the USA’s participation in the games. But not just because the USA is a participant of the game, but also because we have a Louisiana rugby player that is a part of it. Bring recognition to former LSU rugby player, and current USA U-20 player, Cameron Falcon. I also wanted to show USA’s opening game of pool play, against South Africa, was less than stellar. A 97-0 loss to South Africa is absolutely abysmal. But it’s also understandable. It should be understood that South Africans play rugby from the moment the get out the womb. So though we have many talented players here in the US, watching the game, the difference in how a lifetime of experience changes the fluidity and the support in the way the South Africans play. I expect the United States to pick up their game. Next game will be against France at 11:45am. You can watch it at the International Rugby Board website
Last one y’all…..
June 8, 2013
Today is the day of the second inaugural international test match in Houston. USA vs. Ireland rugby. The play of elite rugby in the south only made to bring rugby to the people. USA Rugby knowing that the south is aching for strong rugby after an impressive turnout last year when the USA played Italy, they know that we are people who appreciate great sporting. I know personally i’m excited because most of the times games like this don’t happen in this region. They are typically set up in California or the west coast in general. But this, this makes all the difference. Ireland is no scrub team. Ireland being ranked 9th in the world, compared to the USA at 16th, makes for this game to be one that gives all the good play of a tough match. If the USA were to beat this Irish team, that says a lot about the direction that the USA program has been going. The growth of rugby in the United States will be built on the foundation that we continue to play high competition like this.
Thank you guys and GREAUX RUGBY
CEO/Founder of Gift-Time Rugby Network
I want to take the time to thank you for this opening set up for a blog. In time this will develop into something that can be relied upon more and more for you rugby updates for news here in Louisiana, and national news.
The reason that I created Gift-Time Rugby Network was because I believe in the growth of rugby in the United States. Since I started playing back in 2009 for Baton Rouge Rugby Club, I have been completely mystified on how this sport had been passed over by the general public. Yes, we have Football here, and basketball and baseball are the other part of the big 3 for United States sports, but rugby seemed to be a natural addition. It wasn’t until I started looking over the history of rugby around the world, as well as here in the United States, that I realized the trend that had been occurring. It appeared as if there was a consistent concern that upgrading rugby from an amateur status to a professional and profit-creating sport was hindering it. I mean, 1995 is when the first elements of a professional rugby started. While that may work for our brothers and sisters overseas, a sport that does not seem to have a monetary end goal doesn’t work so well here in the states. So the club mindset of rugby would continue to persist.
Fast forward to the present, since 2009, USA Rugby have been making a much stronger effort of popularizing rugby. They acquired a new CEO, Nigel Melville, who forced the organization to go out and actively create programs to increase rugby. They have pushed Rugby 7’s on TV with the Las Vegas Sevens Tournament, in February, and the College Rugby Championships, in June. Internationally, the International Rugby Board (IRB) has gotten rugby returned to the Olympics for 2016, even if it’s Rugby 7’s, a major step forward for the organization as a whole.
Now, to the point of why I have done all this. As I have seen growth with rugby, I know that there are limitations to what they can do. Resources are finite for now, and there are a lot of holes to be filled. I wanted to make the effort of promoting Louisiana rugby and national rugby in a means that would be easy for the general fan to understand. I know many people who have come to me after seeing rugby on TV or in person and are just confused by the actions. The education of rugby to the general fan will be one of the most important, if not THE most important, key to getting the sport to where it deserves to be. So with Gift-Time Rugby Network and everything that we’ll provide, I hope to be able to bring rugby to the profitable and viable sport in the US that I know it will get too.
I hope you enjoy all our content.
CEO/Founder of Gift-Time Rugby Network