Will Olympic Recognition Spark a Rugby Revolution?

While the international USA rugby team has never had the greatest of successes in major competitions and against the nations traditionally associated with the sport, all that may be changing. This is largely down the inclusion of rugby sevens as an Olympic sport from 2016 and the renewed interest in the sport this has created.

Can the USA be a force?

Sources say that this has been a question with rugby and the USA for a number of generations but there is a growing awareness amongst young players that rugby is a viable alternative to American Football and basketball.

Part of this growing awareness comes from the understanding that some of the skills learned in playing particularly American Football can be utilised in rugby. So all those players that didn’t quite make the professional leagues in football have a second chance at sporting fame by turning their skills to rugby. All these things could one day lead to kids asking for a rugby ball at Christmas instead of a cheap skateboards or a football.  For information on skateboards, see http://www.longboardhacks.com/cheap-longboard-wheels-as-extras/.

Sevens

The sevens has the potential to be the spark. The women’s team are already pushing for a medal and the men’s side beat Samoa in a recent tournament, then drew with the eventual champions Fiji. Most of the 25 rugby players that train full time in the Olympic training centre in California are sevens players.

It may also be helped by some of the biggest names in the game not quite taking in that there are medals to be won and prestige to be earned at the next Olympics with the sevens game. New Zealand Rugby Union have an Olympic programme in place as do the England team but little has been announced by some of the other big names. This means, potentially, the USA could be ahead of the likes of South Africa or France in their preparations.

NFL Draft

There are countless potential rugby players out there just waiting for the inspiration to take up the sport. As mentioned, those who train for American football are ideally placed to change sports. Think of the NFL Draft; 250 college players annually are drafted which leaves around 8,750 without any playing future.

Many college programmes create athletes who can’t quite make the grade but are supreme sprinters and add these to the football players not collected in the draft that that’s quite a talent pool to select from.
It is only a matter of time until many of the US colleges begin to start their rugby sevens programmes to specifically aim for players for future Olympic teams.

Conclusion

With the full game become more popular, the New Zealand team is touring in 2014 and this game will probably break the records for spectator attendance in the sport. Plus with talk of a company called RugbyLaw establishing a professional club tournament with a former Ireland coach in charge, the future of rugby in the USA is certainly looking brighter than most people would have expected.

Memorabilia and Saving A Moment In Time

Sports and moments
Courtesy of Christian Newton

Do you consider yourself a collector? Whether you go for the traditional sports memorabilia like baseball cards—or rugby jerseys—or are more interested in the obscure, like collecting walking stick medallions, caring for your treasures means investing in their value.

 

Knowing What You’re Buying

Before getting into the details about how to best preserve jerseys, balls, cards, programs, posters and whatever else you can think of that’s sports-related, it’s important you know the difference between “memorabilia” and “collectibles.”

 

Memorabilia: Any items that are signed by an athlete that can be authenticated through documentation and/or certified by a reputable memorabilia dealer.

 

Collectibles: Any item that is a replica, imitation, or unsigned, or containing signatures that are not authenticated.

 

Based on these definitions, it’s easy to see why memorabilia is considered to have greater financial value. Collectibles offer more personal value.

 

If you want to get the biggest bang for your buck with memorabilia collections, then it’s important to take the necessary steps to preserve its worth.

 

Encase of Exposure

Exposure to the environment is a definite no-no for maintaining integrity. This means enclosing items into some kind of protective case, such as glass or acrylic. Frames are another effective enclosure, especially for photographs, posters or programs, and even jerseys. However, it pays to go to framers who specialize in preserving memorabilia because they will know which mattes and background materials are less likely to inflict damage. For example, papers high in acid will age your items.

 

If you have too many products that framing everything isn’t a logical option, then there are other protective storage systems. Plastic sleeves are okay, but look for ones that do not contain PVC, otherwise you run the risk of autographs rubbing off. Roll up posters and store them in acid-free tubes. Keep them loose, though, so they stay crease-free.

 

NEVER laminate memorabilia. That is the kiss of death in terms of maintaining value.

 

Weather or Not

Even after you encase your valuables, environmental elements can still affect their worth. Keep your memorabilia out of direct light. UV rays, such as those from the sun, will do long-term damage. However, fluorescent lighting also can cause fading, albeit at a slower rate. If you want to shine a spotlight on your precious pieces, go with a 60-watt light bulb.

 

Water is another no-no, and there is no coming back from water damage. If you’re not displaying the treasures on shelves or hanging them on walls, but rather storing them in boxes, then make sure the boxes are airtight. Also, keep the boxes up off the ground.

 

Finally, whether your memorabilia is out for all to see or securely stashed away, the room should have consistent environmental factors, especially humidity and temperature. Spikes in either factor can weaken their integrity.

 

And as authentication is key when dealing with sports memorabilia, when it doubt have it checked out by an expert before you invest time and money in preserving it.

 

Using Your Head

What is Rugby
Courtesy of Kerrie

In 2012, more than 2,000 former NFL players filed a lawsuit against the National Football League claiming the organization withheld information regarding a link between head injuries — namely concussions — sustained during games and practices and long-term brain damage. The case was settled last year for $765 million.

 

Using Your Head

The historic legal action garnered a lot of media attention, but American football certainly isn’t the only sport in which its players face possible long-term consequences of head injuries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that between 1.6 and 3.8 million traumatic brain injuries (TBI) reported every year are related to sports or recreational activities. Rugby definitely is counted as one of those sports. In 2009, more than 5,700 head injuries treated in U.S. emergency departments were tied to playing either rugby or lacrosse.

 

Hard to Tell

Looking in the mirror after a match, you probably see a reflection of a grungy guy covered in sweat and dirt who could benefit from doing a few dry shampoo reviews to find the best products that will make you presentable in a hurry. You also see in the mirror any cuts or bruises you sustained. Of course, you’ll instantly feel traumatic injuries to your limbs, joints, or lower body. What you can’t see, though, are the effects the physical contact you endured during the match may have had on your brain. Unless you fall unconscious after colliding with another player, there’s a possibility you don’t know if you have been concussed.

 

And because rugby players do not wear protective headgear like what’s worn in football and because the sport is fast moving and extremely physical, there’s always a chance that one head will collide with another head or with the ground. Depending on the degree of the impact, you could end up with a concussion.

 

In the Know

If someone falls unconscious immediately after an impact, then call 9-1-1 to have the person taken to the hospital for treatment and observation. However, concussions are not always that obvious. In fact, the CDC states that the majority of mild traumatic brain injuries never make it to the emergency department partially due to the fact that it can take anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks before symptoms appear. Due to this wide range of time, it’s important to check yourself and your teammates for symptoms anytime you think there’s a possibility of a concussion.

 

Symptoms include:

• dizziness

• nausea

• headaches

• blurred vision

• lack of balance

• memory impairment

• mood swings

 

It’s also important to know that there’s growing evidence of a cumulative effect. Once you suffer a concussion, you become more susceptible to suffering another, and each successive concussion may cause more damage on top of the previous injuries. So if you feel any combination of these symptoms for any length of time after incurring a head impact, check with a physician.

What Gear Do You Need To Play Rugby?

Play rugby with the right gearWhether you are aiming to play a few games of rugby in the local park on a Sunday or try out for a local team, there are some crucial pieces of gear you will need to protect yourself. Rugby is a full contact sport so you need to expect a few knocks when you are playing, however the right equipment can help reduce the chances of injury.

Boots

Playing rugby in your best running shoes might sound like a good idea, but the reality is they simply aren’t designed for the job. Rugby boots are similar to those worn for soccer but are higher on the ankle to offer more protection. Different positions in the game can opt for different types of boots but regardless, the right fit is the most important factor.

You will need to know if you have any particular food conditions such as a high arch or flat foot before buying boots because the shape of your feet is important. The boot should be a snug fit but with enough room to move your feet slightly inside them.

Studs are important to get grip as you run or as you are in a collision. A lot of players now use adjustable studs that screw into the shoes so they can amend them for the conditions – longer if it is muddy or shorter if it is dry.

Head and Body protection

Upper body protection is aimed at areas such as the shoulders and chest, which takes a lot of the impact when you are tackled. It is made from strong but lightweight materials and needs to be a good fit.

The gumshield is often considered one of the most important pieces of rugby gear. It protects the gums and teeth and also helps to lessen the effect of an impact on the jaw as well as helping to avoid a concussion. There are two main types of gumshield; a ‘boil in the bag’ type which is moulded using hot water and one from a dentist.

The first type is heated up to make is moldable and then inserted into the mouth for around three minutes to take the form of your teeth and gums. The other option is to get one professional made by a dentist.

Head protection has been made mandatory in professional rugby since 2000 and the game’s governing body approves which is acceptable. Headgear is made from synthetic materials, which are light and can offset a serious impact. In the front rows, the headgear is to prevent blows to the head as well as damaging their ears when in scrums. Fitting the cap is very important as if it doesn’t fit correctly, it won’t do its job and will leave you open to a very serious head injury.

These are the main areas of protection that are used for rugby players of all levels across the world. If you make use of these pieces of equipment, they won’t stop you getting injured or hurt but can help alleviate the seriousness of these things and make sure you can keep enjoying the game time and again.

Rugby and How To Play It

Enjoy playing rugbyHere’s a short video on how to play rugby. If you’ve never played Rugby before it’s an exciting sport.

 How To Play Rugby

Playing rugby versus football or soccer or hockey can be different as all sports take practice and learning certain techniques.  Join a local rugby league or find out more about sports organizations in your area that support the sport of rugby.

Learn more about what you need to prepare to play, what to wear, shoes and clothing and all the gear you might need to be in a rough and tough sport.  Perhaps you can watch a few games live in your home town to decide if this might be the sport for you.

If you are in an area where you can’t find  teams, you just might be the person to drum up the excitement for the sport and find others who want the same.

The Metropolitan New York Rugby Football Union

The Metropolitan New York RFU was founded in 1967 and is responsible for the government of around 80 men’s and women’s clubs, colleges, high schools and youth teams. They cover New York metropolitan area but also northern New Jersey, Fairfield County of Connecticut and Long Island.Metropolitan New York Rugby Football Union

Since 2012, it has been part of the larger Empire Rugby Football Union Geographical Union (Empire GU) which was one of four pilot geographical unions developed by USA Rugby and the first made from merging other unions. There are currently 12 geographical unions across the country as well as a number of independent areas such as Chicago and Hawaii.

The senior men’s game is organised into six divisions; division 1; 2; 3 north; 3 south; 4 north and 4 south. The women’s game is separated into three divisions.

USA Rugby

USA Rugby is the national governing body of the sport in the US. It is responsible for the promotion and development of the game and of international participation. It is a member of the International Rugby Board (IRB) as well as the US Olympic Committee (USOC).

USA Rugby has a membership of over 98,000 with the largest amount being college rugby, which accounts for 32,000 members. The largest areas are New York, California and Pennsylvania. There has been a 350% increase in participation between 2004-2011 and is one of the fastest growing sports in the country.

It is responsible for the senior men and women’s games as well as under-20s for both sexes and sponsors the college game. The headquarters are in Boulder, Colorado and they administer around 2,588 clubs nationwide.

In 2011, the IRB gave its Development Award to USA Rugby for its Rooke Rugby programme, which has introduced over 100,000 children to the sport.

History

The national side is called the Eagles and first took the to field in 1976 in competitions such as the Churchill Cup and the Pan American Championships as well as scheduled matches against sides such as Ireland and France.

The first accomplishment in US rugby came when the Eagles won a gold medal in the Olympics at the 1920 and 1924 games. However, following this there was a long period of stagnation where the game did not evolve.

In the early 1960s, a renaissance in rugby began and created the need for a governing body. In 1975, four territorial organisations gathered in Chicago and formed the USA Rugby Football Union, now known as USA Rugby. These were Pacific Coast, West, Midwest and East.

The national side has reached six of the last seven World Cups and are currently ranked as a tier-2 nation as well as being ranked as a top 20 side since the rankings developed in 2003.

USA Rugby is a founding sports partner of the Sports Museum of America along with over 50 single-sport Halls of Fame and other organisations to celebrate the history and significance of sport in America.

National Teams and Clubs

US Rugby is responsible for a selection of international sides. These include the national union team, which plays in the Rugby World Cup, the sevens team which plays in the World Series and Pam Am Games, as well as the Olympics from 2016. There are also an under-20 union team, women’s union team and women’s seven union teams.

The Collegiate Rugby Championship is a sevens competition which is the highest profile competition in the country and is broadcast live on NBC each year.

Domestic Competitions

From 1997 – 2012, the Rugby Super League was the premier Division 1 amateur club competition. It saw 14 teams divided into two seven-team divisions’ Western-Pacific Conference and Midwestern-East Conference.

Aspen won the first championship while the most successful club is Belmont Shore who were in finals every year from 2002-2008. However, the quality of the teams involved fluctuated and this led to its disbanding.

The following year, 2013, saw the USA Rugby Elite Cup which took the top eight clubs from the previous National Division 1 but was short-lived as three of the four western clubs left in favour of the Pacific Rugby Premiership, which is currently due to start in Spring 2014. It comprises clubs from California and Colorado.

 

 

The Sport of Rugby Union

Rugby Union is a full contact team sport, which came out of England in the early 19th century. It is based around two teams of 15 people using an oval shaped ball on a field that has an H-shaped goal at each end.

The sport and history of Rugby
Rugby School

History

The idea of running with the ball was credited to William Webb Ellis in 1823 at Rugby School, Warwickshire. The first rules of the sport were created in 1845 by the pupils at the school and it was originally known as rugby football. It wasn’t until the split of 1895 did one sport become known as rugby union while the other became rugby league.

The first international match was played between England and Scotland on 27th March 1871 and by 1881, both Ireland and Wales had teams. 1883 saw the first international competition, the Home Nations Championship between these sides.

The first international match happened in 1888 when the British Isles team toured Australia and New Zealand, a tour that laid the foundations for the modern British and Irish Lions Tours. The following year, the New Zealand team came to Britain and brought the first foreign spectators with them.

Between 1905-08 all three of the major southern hemisphere countries had sent teams to tour Britain; New Zealand in 1905, South Africa in 1906 and Australia in 1908. These teams had new tactics as well as higher fitness levels and were far more successful than anyone had anticipated. The New Zealand tour also saw a haka performed before the match that led Welsh Rugby Union administrator Teddy Morgan to suggest singing the Welsh national anthem before the game in response. This was the first time a national anthem was sung at the beginning of a sporting event and the crowd all joined in. In 1905, France played its first international game against England.

Rugby was included in the Olympics on four occasions during the 20th century. In 1987, the first World Cup was held across New Zealand and Australia, which saw New Zealand as the first winners. Rugby Sevens was first played internationally in 1973, with a World Cup in 1993 and introduction to the Commonwealth Games in 1998. It is also set to be added to the Olympics by 2016.

World Spread

Originally, the spread of rugby followed British expatriates, military personnel as well as university students studying overseas. The first club in France, Le Havre, was founded in 1872 by British residents while the following year saw Argentina’s first game in Buenos Aires.

Rugby is the national sport currently of six nations; Fiji, Georgia, New Zealand, Samoa, Tonga and Wales.

Fiji started playing rugby around 1884 when European and Fijian soldier of the Native Constabulary on Viti Levu Island took the playing the game. By 1924, Fiji had sent a team to play in Samoa who formed for their own union in 1927. As well as Tonga, the Cook Islands, Niue, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands all have national sides.

The first club in North American was in Montreal in Canada who then introduced it to the USA when students from McGill University played a match against students from Harvard University in 1874. Trinidad and Tobago saw the first club, Northern RFC, formed in 1923 and by 1933, Barbados was playing the sport. Jamaica and Bermuda also have teams.

Rugby in Europe was sporadic in its spread; France was the main country to play and when they couldn’t play against British and Irish opponents, started a second tier of international matches. They played Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Romania, Italy, Poland and Czechoslovakia. Russia saw their first official match in 1933 while Portugal had a championship, which started in 1927.

Argentina is the main rugby country in South America but the game has been played in Brazil since the 19th century and Uruguay formed a national league and four clubs in 1951. Chile and Paraguay both also play internationally.

Asian rugby traditions come mainly from countries that were part of the British Empire. The Calcutta Football Club formed in 1872 but the sport died off some when the British left. Sri Lanka have had a team since 1878 and won the All-India cup in 1920. Malaysia has some records of the game but they are patchy. Japan, Singapore, South Korea, China and the Philippines all play the game along with Hong King which has seen notable development of the sevens game, namely the Hong Kong Seven tournament which began in 1976.

South Africa and neighbour Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) were the first to play the sport in Africa but in more recent times, other countries have taken to it. A match in Madagascar recently saw crowds of 40,000 and Namibia have reached the final stages of the World Cup on four occasions since 1999. Other countries with international teams include Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, Zambia and Uganda.