Needless to say that after what transpired for USA Rugby this summer has not only been incredible, but historical as well as we witnessed for the first time in modern history seeing U.S.A. beat a Tier One nation when they defeated Scotland 30-29. U.S.A. Head Coach Gary Gold has even mentioned that a huge contributing factor to the victory was Major League Rugby. If Gary Gold is saying this, then Major League Rugby must be more successful than anticipated.
What’s great about Major League Rugby is that now that players from the U.S. can finally play professionally. Yes, there was another one called PRO Rugby, but let’s not talk about that as that failed miserably despite the promise. However, what was significant about U.S.A.’s victory over Scotland was that for the first time ever we got a chance to see every single player on the roster playing professionally. That’s good for business and good for the growth of the sport.
One thing Major League Rugby has done is it has given everyone a chance to understand American rugby better, I being one of them. It gives us a better chance to see which players are playing so that when international competitions begin, we have a better understanding who is who on the roster. Now we can see what type of players Bryce Campbell, Hanco Germishuys, Shaun Davies, or even Ben Cima are. What it now brings up even is debate. What I mean by that is when all of us fans who are watching MLR and seeing what players are on the pitch every match, it sparks up a debate amongst us as to who we think should be on the national team. An example of this might be a debate as to saying Glendale winger Harley Davidson deserves to be on the national team because his speed allows the field to be opened up more and it could cause opposing defenses having a hard time defending him allowing Davidson to score a lot of tries. It could also bring up the debate as to who should start where. An example of this might be saying that AJ MacGinty deserves to start at fly-half over Will Magie because he is in much better form at the moment and his kicking is better than Magie’s. There are a lot more debates that could happen, but this could be some things that could be talked about.
Another one, and this might be the most important one, is that it gives Gary Gold a chance to see what players he should field when it comes to international play. He might look at rosters around the MLR and think such players as Paul Lasike, Mika Kruse, Alex Elkins, Cecil Garber, Jake Turnbull, Cam Falcon, Harley Davidson or whomever, should get a chance to play for the national side. That will only make U.S.A. get better and stronger.
It will also improve the product of the national side. Now that they are professionals they will get better training and will face better competition which will in turn make them better players. And if that happens, you could see U.S.A. get better results in international play. It may not mean a win against New Zealand or Australia, but they could be better matches to watch and it could mean that there might be some upsets like how Japan did so in the 2015 World Cup when they defeated South Africa. It could be a while until they finally get competitive enough to be a serious contender, but this is the step in the right direction.
Another thing it does is it makes kids more interested in the sport as they are exposed to it. It might make them think of playing rugby, which would then allow them to possibly pursuing a professional career later. If that’s the case, rugby will then get better athletes taking up the sport which could help make the national side better. There’s still a long ways to go with that, but things look promising.
If what Gary Gold is saying is true, then the future looks bright for U.S.A. Rugby. It’s been a while since the U.S. was a dominant force (nearly a century ago) and it would be great to see the third most populated country in the world competing against strong sides such as New Zealand or Ireland. Who knows, it might come quicker than us rugby fans anticipate.