Rugby players from all over the world converged on Las Vegas earlier this month for the USA leg of the IRB Sevens World Series.
Broadcast on NBC, viewers were treated to a rare opportunity to see some exciting rugby the Sevens version is renowned for.
The tournament - featuring teams from around the globe - provided a glimpse of what to expect at the 2016 Olympic Games, when Rugby 7’s enters the Olympic fray. Eventual winners Samoa secured victory from heavyweights New Zealand in the dying minutes of the final.
For US fans, however, the performance of their national side was a reality check as the Americans finished the tournament with a disappointing 1-4 record.
Ironically, the United States is the most successful nation when it comes to rugby at the Olympics, having won Gold Medals in 1920 and 1924 - the last time the game was represented at an Olympiad.
Unfortunately for the USA, times have changed significantly as the team’s form during the tournament, and over the last couple of years in general, has failed to live up to the expectations of the American rugby community.
As the Tomahawks - Rugby League’s equivalent - prepare for their entrance onto the global stage at the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, it’s interesting to compare the performance of the two national sides. In doing so, one can understand the momentum and interest surrounding Rugby League in America.
Over the past two years the Eagles (Rugby Union) have participated in 15 international matches and have won four of them (excluding 7’s matches), whereas the Tomahawks (Rugby League) have participated in eight international matches winning six.
Statistically, the Tomahawks have won 75% of their matches in the last two years, while the Eagles have only won 27% of theirs.
The simplistic nature of Rugby League from an organizational standpoint also seems to be one of the sport’s assets. The AMNRL quietly strategizes its national team to ensure consistency in its performance. Not surprisingly, AMNRL CEO David Niu has been at the helm of the organization for an extended period of time, ensuring a sense of stability and familiarity in the administrative structure.
2012 is poised to be an exciting year for the Tomahawks with a number of international matches already scheduled. Tonga and Japan are locked in for matchups later this summer, while the Irish will arrive next month when the two teams compete for the Donnybrook Cup on Saturday, March 17th.
For disgruntled rugby fans, 2012 is a year of hope as their “little brother” attempts to make its presence felt on the international Rugby League scene.
Whether you’re a fan of League, Union, or both, make sure 2012 is the year you try something new. Get behind the Tomahawks and GIVE RUGBY LEAGUE A GO!