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.
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 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.
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.
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.