This was a huge, huge, huge win for USA Rugby. However, this is also a very important win for a sleeping giant in international rugby as for the first time in the modern era U.S.A. won a match against a Tier 1 nation. It’s also very important for the growth of the sport in U.S.A. as this is the fastest growing team sport in the country and with the success so far that is Major League Rugby, this is a momentous occasion.
A remarkable feat for all of the members on U.S.A.’s roster for this match was that every single one of those players for the first time in the history of the program were professional athletes. One could say that Major League Rugby had a huge impact on the match as a number of the players on the roster were on a MLR side. If these players are getting this exposure and are able to play professionally, that could lead to U.S.A. possibly being more competitive on the international stage and could even showcase that in World Cup next year.
Major League Rugby has been able to showcase most of the players on the U.S.A. roster like Shaun Davies, Hanco Germishuys, Paul Lasike, and John Quill, who are all critical in the development of the sport in the country, in their competition. And because of that, there are some that are saying that is big for the development.
I remember watching the match between U.S.A. and Scotland in the 2015 World Cup and when U.S.A. was up after the first half, I was very impressed with their play as it was clear the quality of the player pool was much better. U.S.A. lost that match as they deserved to defeat Scotland, however, it was clear that Scotland was a better side than U.S.A. was. While watching the match the other night, I kept thinking back to that match in 2015 as the U.S. was very close to upsetting Scotland, but in this match, it felt like unfinished business was taken cared of finally. A sense of redemption and possibly a little bit of revenge. However, this was bigger than that.
There might have been a lot of fans in the stands who don’t understand a lick of rugby, but yet were excited by the outcome. But if you are a fan like myself then this is absolutely huge. All of us want to see our country become competitive in rugby and this is a step in the right direction. It may take a while before they actually become strong contenders, but nonetheless it helps especially with the World Cup coming up next year.
Scotland is a good side as they were one of the favorites to possibly win this year’s Six Nations tournament and look to be a contender for the World Cup championship. That is why this win is significant. I can even trace back U.S.A.’s strong performances to the Ireland match in the 2011 World Cup when they lost, but only by 12 points including scoring a try when Paul Emerick intercepted a pass near the end of the match and when that happened I thought that was the match the program needed to show how serious the country was in becoming a strong nation. I was wrong, the victory over Scotland was. U.S.A. has always been regarded as a sleeping giant as they won gold in the Olympics back in 1924, but never kept up with their success and regressed tremendously as it led to the rise of American Football.
In a country filled with over 350 Million people, there has to be some athletes here that are competitive and athletic enough to play rugby. And if they were in the stands for that match, they were exposed to how great the sport is. Maybe they will choose a path towards a rugby career.