What is this game of Rugby?

Sum Quod Sum - I am what I am


When someone mentions “football”, most of us assume they’re referring to the game where players, clad in sponge padding and plastic armor, parade formation like warriors in a medieval conquest.  However, the evolutionary links to the NFL, also called “football”, are games where players wear almost no padding, and unlike most team sports, play only stops at halftime or for an injury.


The oldest of the three games of “football” is known in the US as soccer, a game where the ball may only be advanced by kicking (hence the name “football”).  Rugby is the “missing link” in the evolution to American football.  Players may run and kick the ball to advance it.  American “football”, despite having very little to do with kicking, was adapted from Rugby.


Rugby was first introduced in the United States in 1875 by a team from McGill University of Toronto, Canada.  By the early 1900’s, owing to the high frequency of serious injury in the American adaptation of the game (American Football), a number of Pacific Coast Colleges began playing rugby exclusively.  Rules changed and the development of protective gear made American Football the game of choice again, but on the West coast rugby had taken a firm hold.


Despite the American general sporting public’s lack of knowledge about Rugby, the US are the defending Olympic champions in the sport, having defeated France for the gold medal in both the 1920 (8-0) and in the 1924 (17-3), the last year in which rugby was an Olympic sport.  Rugby was allowed as an Olympic sport only at the insistence of the French, who had one of the best games in the world at that time, and were hosting the 1924 Games.  The USA fifteen, made up primarily of collegiate Californians, were 20-to-1 long shots in the gold medal match.


Although the US national team (the Eagles) has struggled at international level, the American women won the 1991 World Cup and finished second in the 1994 and 1998 World Cup Games.


There are tournaments in America which decide the men and women’s National Club Champions; the men and women’s National Collegiate Champions; men and women’s territorial champions; National High School Champion; and the National Military Champion.  There are also National Sevens Club Championships and Territorial Champions.