Rugby News & Views From an American Perspective
by Ted Hardy
All good things must come to an end. Including my summer hiatus which is drawing to a close and it is time for me to start pecking away and getting some articles published. The break was much needed as I was burnt out from a strong run over the last 14-15 months.
This diatribe isn’t all about my break, how fun it was, or the fact that I’m now suffering from a massive vacation hangover (figurative, not literal). If I’m getting back into the swing of things, then we need to talk about some rugby.
So, what has happened the last month or so…
Belmont Shore brings home another 7’s National Title and the competition is getting tougher and tougher each year. More and more teams are specializing in 7’s because they’re seeing quick payoff from their efforts. Long term, this will be a very good thing for 7’s in America and now that the barriers through USA Rugby have been eliminated, we should see even more teams crop up.
The Eagles dropped two games to Canada. I have yet to see the entirety of both games, but as usual there was some good and more not so good. Finishing remains a major issue for the team. I didn’t see anything that showed me signs that this team is any better than the team they took to the World Cup in 2007. You know, the one that didn’t have a roster nearly filled with professionals.
I don’t see the Eagles defeating Japan in their final warmup for the World Cup. Japan keeps getting better and better. Not that it would matter either way. Win or lose… the Eagles can’t really even be classified as an underdog at the upcoming World Cup. They should beat Russia, but that will be about it. As with past World Cups, we will be left hoping that the squad at least puts up a fight against Ireland, Australia, and Italy.
Still, they are my team and I will support them to the very end at the World Cup and sit on pins and needles during the first 20 minutes of each game. Just because I will support them wholeheartedly doesn’t mean I won’t be praying for a new direction in the next four years and new leadership. The Eagles could have taken a two year hiatus from international rugby and came back in the last year and produced the same results we are seeing right now.
The USA Women also had a bit of a rough go at the annual Nations Cup event. Hoping to battle England for top honors, the women fell to 3rd place after a suprising loss to South Africa during the pool rounds. The USA avenged their loss to South Africa to take home third in the event.
What else? Hmmm… fall college rugby is right around the corner. That is always a good thing. While the age-old debate of Fall vs. Spring college rugby wages on, teams in Fall areas prepare for their seasons. Until the playing field is leveled financially, the argument of which season to play rugby should be shelved. College rugby is still a club sport, albeit an advanced club sport. That fact cannot be forgotten altough when reading some of the arguments, you would think that rugby was an NCAA sport with all of the pie in the sky ideas being thrown about. Bottom line is that teams should pursue whatever option fits them best.
I’m also very disappointed with the release of the demo for the new RWC 2011 video game. I had been plugging the release of the demo for PS3 and XBox only to find out that it appears North America was left out of the mix. I really shouldn’t have been surprised though. We are still North America and firmly set at the bottom of the rugby totem pole.
Speaking of the Americas, the Pan-Am Games are also right around the corner and the USA needs to throw down a marker at the tournament. Will we see some new faces in the squad? It was a competitive summer 7’s season and word is that some new faces have come out of the woodwork. The team is going to need some help as some of their top performers over the past two seasons could be in NZ for the World Cup. The team stagnated and took a step back last season on the IRB circuit, this might be a perfect opportunity to get some new blood in the team before the 2011/2012 World Series season.
Well, that is about it for now. All said… it is good to be back. I think.
Stay tuned for more in the coming days and weeks and as alway, thanks for visiting Rugby America.