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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Does great rugby make rugby great?

Last weekend Berkeley All Blues won the national championship in Division I Senior Women's Club Rugby. By all accounts, the rugby played throughout the two weekends of the championship tournament was exceptional. That’s great! But does this great rugby make rugby great? How many people outside a few hardcore rugby fans even know this championship took place? I’m a rugby fan, but if I hadn’t discovered Blondie’s Saturday’s a Rugby Day blog, I wouldn’t have known about it. This is women’s rugby. How many other people who are already rugby fans know about it? And even more important, how many people in the general public know about it?

The U.S. could become one of the great rugby nations if we really wanted it. Not just those of us who are already rugby fans wanting it, but the country as a whole wanting it. We’ve got some of the best athletes in the world, we’ve got an active sports-loving population, we’ve got one of the world’s strongest economies (present conditions not withstanding), and rugby is the ultimate spectator sport. Rugby is full of action, it’s exciting, it’s energizing. And somebody could make money from it.

As they say - It Takes Money to Make Money. And USA Rugby needs money. Blondie posted on November 2nd an excerpt from an article in eRugbyNews about the financial concerns surrounding the upcoming Women’s National Team tour of the United Kingdom. The tour is expensive (relatively), costing about $80,000. USA Rugby not being flush with cash, is unable to pay the entire cost of the tour. That means that the women selected for the tour will be required to pay approximately $1,500 from their own pockets if they want to represent the U.S. as a member of the National Team. That’s just not right.

Rugby is not a professional sport in the U.S., yet, so players play for the love of the game. Players generally have to pay for their own travel to games and tournaments, unless their club has a strong support and fund raising system. And that’s OK, we’re used to it. But when it comes to the National Team of one of the richest countries in the world, the players shouldn’t have to foot the bill. It’s just plain embarrassing.

You can support USA rugby by making a tax deductible contribution. You can donate to the general fund, or any of a number of specific programs, including the Women’s Team. But we need more. Yes, USA Rugby needs donations and corporate sponsors, but it also needs a wider base of support. It takes money to make money, so let’s build up the coffers of USA Rugby so that they can use some of it to generate even more revenue. We need marketing to bring the general public on board. We need a broad fan base to attract more sponsors. We need a strong and viable nationwide organization to attract entrepreneurs who will take rugby in the U.S. to the next level.

So I propose an Adopt-A-Rugger campaign. I’ve created a Adopt-A-Rugger and Hug-A-Rugger logos and merchandise. All proceeds from the sales of the merchandise will be donated to USA Rugby. Find the merchandise at the Adopt-A-Rugger and Hug-A-Rugger Stores. Adopt-A-Rugger today!

“To Win the game is Great.
To Play the game is Greater.
To Love the game is Greatest.”

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