Often described as “America’s favorite pastime,” there’s no doubt that football is king when it comes to the most popular sport in the United States, but with the relatively new introduction of Major League Rugby, gridiron fans may have another highly physical game to cheer for.
Rugby is red hot in England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and even Japan, so, according to rugby union legend Blaine Scully, now is a perfect time for the USA to get with the program.
“Without a doubt, rugby has grown, although we still have plenty of work to do,” Scully says. “Participation and brand awareness have grown with more young athletes having the opportunity to pick up a rugby ball. The growth of women’s rugby is particularly exciting and there is a new professional league here in the U.S.”
Perhaps, one of the stumbling blocks to the games’ popularity in the United States could be owed to the little success captured in Rugby World Cup outings. Team USA has appeared in the tournament seven times, but they have never secured victory in more than a single game. If the USA were to host a Rugby World Cup, the teams’ efforts might draw more engagement from domestic fans.
However, Major League Rugby is growing from strength to strength, and affords players the chance to make a living from the sport without signing contracts abroad. Scully was forced to set his sights overseas to progress his career, and became a star for England’s Leicester Tigers and Irelands Cardiff Blues. He captained Team USA in the 2019 Rugby World Cup and he’s excited that things are looking up for players on home soil.
Another sign of rugby’s momentum came ahead of MLR games resuming on March 20, which include clashes between Old Glory DC vs. NOLA Gold along with Rugby United New York vs. San Diego Legion. The league announced new partnerships with FOX and ESPN, thanks so positive viewer numbers for previous seasons broadcast on CBS. In addition, World Rugby is investing around $9 million in the formation of a new women’s tournament, known as the WXV competition. The games will involve Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the USA, and will further raise the profile of rugby on the world stage.
Scully is watching all this progress closely. He still keeps in shape and serves as an ambassador for the sport. He is also a proponent of many training disciplines, and in recent years has taken a specific interest in gut health, and its effects on the immune system. Today’s crop of players may be interested to know that since being sponsored and trialing LYVECAP, the rugby ace has learned a lot about taking care of his body. “Since being on product, I feel better, healthier and more balanced,” he says. “Plus, I would argue that my physical performance and recovery during training has improved significantly.”
For football fans that may have been thinking about checking out a future MLR game, Scully has a passionate call to action. “Football fans should give rugby a try. I have always viewed rugby and football as complementary. Look at Nate Ebner. He is a three-Time Super Bowl Champion with the New England Patriots, and a 2016 Rugby Olympian. In fact, he is trying out for the Olympic Team again. If you like fast-paced contact and collision sports, watch Rugby 7s at the Olympics this year and let me know what you think!”