Earlier this summer (Sun 21.Jun.09 to be exact) I found myself soaking up some rays and watching rugby at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, CO. The Churchill Cup had come to town and how could I miss a triple header finals day? Long time readers of OpenKimono will recall I’ve written about rugby in the past and that I’m a big fan of the game.
Dave at Dick's
Rugby still doesn’t gather the interest in the US it should: my buddy Todd and I were able to walk up to the ticket counter and snare a pair of seats about 15 rows up from the pitch at midfield. $40 apiece. Inside, it was evident a sell-out of this relatively small 18,000 seat stadium wasn’t going to happen that day even though the matches featured:
Although none of the Tri Nations big boys from the southern hemisphere (AUS, NZL, RSA) or the Six Nations national sides from Europe (ENG, FRA, IRE, ITA, SCO, WAL) participated, it was still international rugby and far better than I’d ever seen in person.
The CAN / ARG match was fast paced and chippy. The Argentine side didn’t look all that big (I saw them up close after the match), but they were all fast and kicked with precision. I suppose this is where all the soccer players that get too many red cards end up. They pulled away in the second half and won by a couple tries.
The ENG / IRE match was just plain brutal. I don’t think those guys like each other much, although I imagine a lot of the players are teammates on professional club sides in the UK. It was pretty even the first half, but in the second, the Irish rolled and practically scored at will. This doesn’t bode well for England’s future in the bigger competitions.
By the time the USA / GEO match was finally ready to go, we’d had enough. Sun burned and nauseous from beer and nachos, we packed it in and skipped the last match which I found out later USA had taken with ease. The USA is coming on as a Sevens power, but still struggles to put forth a solid full side, thus the 13-31 score really speaks to how far Georgia needs to come to compete on the world stage. Still, as of this moment, they sit above the USA in the IRB World Rankings. Go figure.
Soooo…. what’s the point of this post? Could one not gather this same info from the good folks at Scrum.com? Surely. But you’d miss my little editorial about how the American rugby community, while small, is enthusiastic. We sat next to a fellow that was about my age and his father. After a bit of small talk, it was evident both of them had played in their younger years and the game was a common thread between them. They were having a great time, talking trash, talking strategy. Pretty cool to see that in this country. Later, as I was walking the pavilion to get an adult beverage, I was flagged down by a South African guy. He spotted me in my Springboks jersey and had assumed I was an import like himself. We chatted for a while, talking a bit about South Africa and rugby in general. It was evident he was pleased to find a fan of his national team half a world from home. And I enjoyed reconnecting with a sports culture that draws out national pride unlike anything in the USA aside from the minority of soccer fans in the country cheering for our side to qualify for World Cup 2010.
I guess that’s one of the reasons I was drawn to rugby 15 years ago, and soccer more recently, because it’s a world game unlike American football. In most of the English speaking world, you can find someone able to have a beer and talk about rugby. That’s very appealing to me as I truly enjoy being part of the larger world.