By Davyon Johnson
Rugby, a contact sport that is said to have originated in 1823 began in England, at a rugby school in Warwickshire. William Webb Ellis, known to be the creator and founder of rugby, came upon this discovery during a game of football. Bored with the slow pace of a football game, he picked the ball up and ran with it.
Before getting into the status quo, and popularity of present day rugby, Ii believe it is first important to understand the mental state of a rugby player, the rules of a rugby game, as well as the severe and life changing injuries that can occur. Rugby is a team sport, with each team having 15 players on the field at the same time, totaling to 30 people in one game of rugby. The rules in rugby are simple, using your teammates and the field to get around your opponent to the other end of the field to be able to score. The main components of rugby are lateral passes to your teammates and tackling the opposing team’s players who possess the ball.
Now moving towards the rules and regulations, in rugby you must always pass behind you, any forward passes are known as an illegal pass or a forward pass, which you cannot do. Passing the ball backwards creates space and timing for your team to set up a play. Rugby tackling also has its rules to keep everyone safe. Knowing that rugby is played without any equipment or shoulder pads you must always tackle at the waist or below, any tackles above are dangerous and could cause serious injuries. If you fail to tackle safely you will most likely be removed from the game
Ok so now you know the basics of rugby, with that knowledge you may already have some speculations of why rugby is not as popular as other sports, so first thoughts are 30 people, tackling, no equipment, serious injuries. Now getting a little deeper into the actual history of rugby, and talking to a very experienced college rugby player, we will see the points of view from one who has been on the field, and a part of the community for years.
Speaking to a 23 year old, who has played rugby since his junior year of high school currently part of the Nazareth’s College rugby team, has shared his thoughts of rugby's popularity and why it’s not as popular as some other sports. “Growing up in Rochester NY the most popular sport that caught my attention early on was football. Solely because I enjoyed contact, I got a rush of adrenaline after every big tackle I made. I found quickly that rugby was what I preferred instead and after being introduced to the sport by a high school friend I haven’t stopped playing.”
So here we can already see that this player's discovery of rugby was discovered through his participation in contact sports like football. Moving on to what his thoughts were on why rugby is not as popular as other sports. “I think rugby isn’t as popular because Americans have developed a really big culture around three sports: football, basketball, and soccer. Kids early on when setting dreams of being athletes are shown these three are the most achievable here in the US, shoving rugby further and further away from students.”
Alright so what have we learned from this? Based on The history of rugby, the experienced rugby player, and your initial thoughts to rugby rules. We can conclude that rugby's popularity is much lower than most sports because of its lack of promotion to kids early on, its competition in the sports industry, and its overall gruesome playstyle immediately pushing most people away from it. Overall I would say rugby is not for everyone, it’s definitely far from the norm of sports, but its unique atmosphere, playstyle, and community shows how special it really is.