The Invisible Sport

Considering that the US is the reigning Olympic rugby champion, the sport itself is rather invisible. If you now do a double take and say “what?” – this fact is little known outside of rugby circles, but true.

Rugby was played at the Olympics in 1900 (Paris), 1908 (London), 1920 (Antwerp) and 1924 (Paris). 1920 the US team competed for the first time. There were only two teams, France and USA; the US team won. 1924 three teams played, France, the US and Romania. The US team won again, whereupon some nasty fighting started in the stadium. One US player was even struck down with a walking stick. When finally the American anthem was played, general jeering started.

After 1924 rugby was struck from the list of Olympic sports and never reintroduced. Hence, the US is to this day… well, I already mentioned that.

Rugby is truly an invisible sport in the US. Which does not mean that it is nonexistent. It is just not on the radar for many people, even though there are so many clubs around. A complete list of just the clubs in California can be seen here.

My favorite team logo is the one of Eagle Rock:


It is witty on so many levels and always makes me smile.

4 thoughts on “The Invisible Sport”

  1. I’m guessing one of the reasons rugby did not catch on in the US is because football and baseball are so popular. The same goes for soccer, although it is gaining in popularity. There are just so many professional sports in this country, and they were entrenched before others had a chance to take hold. I mean, think about it. We have the big 3, football, basketball, and baseball. Then we have less popular, but still big, sports like rodeo, bowling (!), softball, track & field, racing (all kinds, including horse racing, NASCAR, etc.), and on and on. I guess there just aren’t enough fans to go around for any more sports.

  2. One interesting fact is that American football has its origin in rugby. So how did it happen that the one gained in popularity and the other slipped out of the view of the public? Is it so much more exciting to watch heavily armored guys crash into each other?

    Maybe it is true that only sports with plenty of time for ads are interesting enough to be shown on TV. And as we all know – only what is being shown on TV is good.

    So there you have it. It is not the sport itself – it’s the TV networks and plain old money grabbing.

  3. Except that all of the big 3 sports were quite popular before TV was even invented. So, I have no idea why they’re more popular than other sports here in the US.

  4. American Football diverged from Rugby when Teddy Roosevelt decreed that helmets should be worn for safety. Others took it upon themselves to change the rules further. With no sporting contact between the US and Europe, US Football drifted farther and farther from the “pure” sport of Rugby.

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