Time for a rugby reality check

Want to know the best place to read up on the quest for professional rugby in the United States?

BigSoccer, of course.

The venerable message board picked up the discussion after The Guardian posted a couple of pieces on RugbyLaw, a startup venture that would set up matches between the London Irish club and a hodgepodge of internationals with newly converted college football players. The hope is that a league would spring from such an effort.

The Guardian‘s headlines, unfortunately, dramatically overstated the NFL’s involvement with the venture. See the comment from RugbyLaw’s George Robertson on this ESPN post.

Issues with the RugbyLaw plan itself, at least as presented in The Guardian:

– Failure to learn from soccer. The NASL (the old one, not the new one) went big, then went home. So did the WUSA. MLS did things differently, and it’s still here. (See Scott Yoshonis’ response at BigSoccer for more on those points.)

– From the story: “If a professional lacrosse league can exist in the US, why not a tournament for the world’s third-most popular team sport?” Probably because the NCAA lacrosse final has been drawing crowds of 40,000 and up for much of the past decade. And because most professional lacrosse players have day jobs and/or play year-round indoor/outdoor.

– The plan is going forward with little more than cautious curiosity from USA Rugby. Oh, great.

Another pro rugby proposal, the American Professional Rugby Competition, seems to be going about things in a more traditional route. They’re not looking for high school stadiums, but they also don’t want crowds to be lost in NFL caverns. They’re studying MLS and talking with NHL, NFL and especially MLS people.

Based on that scant information, I’d think the APRC has the edge. But as with all leagues, it’s not up to those of us in the blogosphere. Whoever convinces investors to step forward will be the winner. All we can really hope for is that whatever emerges is stable. Rugby deserves a long-term league like lacrosse has, not the “three-and-outs” we’ve seen in women’s soccer.

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Beau Dure

The guy who wrote a bunch of soccer books and now runs a Gen X-themed podcast while substitute teaching and continuing to write freelance stuff.

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