T Nation

ESPN Increases Coverage of USA Rugby

Just saw this in my inbox from USA rugby.

BOULDER, Colo. �?? Expanding upon its existing relationship with USA Rugby, in which ESPNU would air selected Men�??s National Team matches, ESPN Inc., has officially signed on to broaden its coverage to ESPN Classic and its live broadband sports network ESPN360.com.

�??This is a great opportunity for USA Rugby to build a partnership with ESPN, the world�??s leader in sports programming. Our goal at USA Rugby is to Inspire America to fall in love with Rugby, and our new partnership with ESPN will certainly play a big part in achieving this goal.�?? USA Rugby�??s VP of Business Development David Voth said.

ESPN, Inc., The Worldwide Leader in Sports, is the leading multinational, multimedia sports entertainment company featuring the broadest portfolio of multimedia sports assets with over 50 business entities, including ESPNU, ESPN Classic and ESPN360.com among a number of other sports media assets.

While ESPNU was designed as a 24-hour college sports network, its previous partnership with USA Rugby proved that its programming schedule is diverse in the content it offers. In fact, ESPNU televises nearly 500 live events and offers comprehensive studio programming, replays of ABC Sports, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN regional television games, specials and much more.

The expanded schedule for ESPNU features a one-hour highlight show taken from footage shot at the USA Rugby National Guard College Club Playoffs in Albuquerque. This show will be televised on Friday, May 16, at 11 p.m. EST. ESPNU will then air a tape delayed telecast of the USA Rugby National Guard Men�??s and Women�??s College Championships on May 21 and 22, at 10 p.m. EST. Additionally, USA Rugby National Guard Boys and Girls High School Championships will also be televised on ESPNU; a first for USA Rugby. Those shows are scheduled for Tuesday, June 3 and Wednesday, June 4, at 8 p.m. EST.

�??We are thrilled to offer more USA Rugby on ESPNU, ESPN Classic and ESPN360.com,�?? said Rosalyn Durant, vice president and general manager ESPNU. �??Showcasing the best US athletes in their respective sport category has become a mainstay for the ESPN networks.�??

ESPN Classic is a 24-hour, all-sports network reaching 63 million homes and is devoted to highlighting and celebrating the timeless events, personalities, moments and stories comprising the heritage of sports. As a curator of sports history, ESPN Classic connects the past with the present-day sports landscape, providing sports fans with perspective, context and relevancy and includes a combination of live and classic sporting events; original entertainment series.

�??It�??s an incredible opportunity to have our international matches and the Rugby Super League Finals air live on ESPN Classic,�?? Voth added, �??and to expand the coverage of all of our rugby properties including the High School National Championships, College Championship Series and the National Club Championships via the ESPN extended family, ESPN Classic, ESPNU and ESPN 360.com.�??

The broadcast schedule for ESPN Classic includes live coverage of the Rugby Super Final from the Infinity Park in Glendale, Colo., on May 31, 8 pm ET, the USA versus Clermont Auvergne match on August 9 in Charleston, S.C. aired at 7 pm ET and the USA versus. Munster match on August 22 in Boston aired at 8 pm ET.

In addition, ESPN360.com will deliver live online coverage from the USA Rugby National Guard Boys and Girls High School Championship Finals, the USA Select XV�??s match against England Counties, USA Rugby�??s Women�??s Club Championships and Men�??s All-Star Championships.

ESPN360.com is ESPN’s signature broadband sports network and the online home for live sports. It delivers more than 2,500 live, global sports events annually and is available at no additional charge to fans who receive their high-speed Internet connection from an affiliated service provider. ESPN360.com is currently available in nearly 23 million homes nationwide via more than 20 Internet service providers including AT&T, Verizon, RCN, Insight, Frontier, Cavalier, Charter, Mediacom, Conway, Grande Communications and more. Additionally, it is available to approximately 18 million U.S. college students and U.S.-based military personnel (fans accessing ESPN360.com from computers connected to an on-campus educational or military network �?? those with �??.edu�?? or �??.mil�?? domains).

For more information on USA Rugby and ESPN�??s relationship and to download a schedule of the tentative USA Rugby events, please visit http://www.usarugby.org/goto/espn

Kick ass! I would love for rugby to become more popular over here. It’s a great game and so much more complex than most people give it credit for!

It’s gonna be tough for people to accept the sport. I’d love for it to get popular too, because I’m all for more sports, but the chances of that is highly unlikely.

Most excellent!

[quote]Padilla7921 wrote:
It’s gonna be tough for people to accept the sport. I’d love for it to get popular too, because I’m all for more sports, but the chances of that is highly unlikely.
[/quote]

Any particular reasoning behind that? I don’t necessarily disagree, or at least not completely, I’m just curious as to why you think that?

[quote]m0dd3r wrote:
Any particular reasoning behind that? I don’t necessarily disagree, or at least not completely, I’m just curious as to why you think that?[/quote]

Well, I do think that more people will become attuned to it and will thoroughly enjoy it. The thing is, sports don’t hit mainstream overnight. It takes more than just a TV contract to gain popularity. And really, if you think about it, a solid fan-base is established BEFORE the sport goes on national TV (or any TV for that matter) and after it does, the popularity grows more peripherally than hardcore. After a while, some of those peripheral fans end up becoming “hardcore” (by that I mean true fans, through think and thin). But it’s a long process, no doubt.

[quote]Padilla7921 wrote:
It’s gonna be tough for people to accept the sport. I’d love for it to get popular too, because I’m all for more sports, but the chances of that is highly unlikely.
[/quote]

Americans just love seeing people get hit. Whether in the NFL or MMA. Add in some crazy inbound plays were you have people being tossed up in the air by their team mates and I think you can have a winner in Ruby with better coverage.

Although I suspect it will take a good while for people to figure out what exactly goes on in a scrum and the difference between and scrum, ruck and maul is.

Americans love seeing people get hit (NFL, NHL, NASCAR, etc.) but they don’t like seeing just anyone getting hit (XFL failed miserably). Rugby will catch on as well as soccer has in America. In other words, it wont.

Americans have been conditioned to like OUR sports, not theirs. Baseball, football, basketball, NASCAR are all American sports. Rugby, futbol, Formula 1, cricket, et al will never be big in this country.

I’m not saying they aren’t great sports (I LOVE F1). They’ll just never make it here.

They need to fit it in there post NBA playoffs and pre NFL when the only thing on is nap-inducing obese baseball.

FUCK YES, that’s great news. Just made my day…

[quote]sumgai wrote:
Americans love seeing people get hit (NFL, NHL, NASCAR, etc.) but they don’t like seeing just anyone getting hit (XFL failed miserably). Rugby will catch on as well as soccer has in America. In other words, it wont.

Americans have been conditioned to like OUR sports, not theirs. Baseball, football, basketball, NASCAR are all American sports. Rugby, futbol, Formula 1, cricket, et al will never be big in this country.

I’m not saying they aren’t great sports (I LOVE F1). They’ll just never make it here.[/quote]

Well, for one, American football evolved out of rugby, so it’s not really one of ‘their’ sports. Secondly, USA rugby currently has over 65,000 members, and that’s mostly just players, coaches, and refs. Not fans. And as far as appeal goes, it’s got the contact and violence of football and hockey, but without the expensive gear or necessity of ice. It’s more of a running time, non-stop sport than football, like soccer or hockey, but without the long boring stretches of passing in soccer. And it’s also one of the only full contact sports for women, especially at the higher levels (same rules for men and women in rugby).

I’m not saying it will ever be as big as the NFL. But I can certainly see it gaining a lot more popularity than soccer has (and soccer’s actually gathering a stronger following every year). Especially if they fit the season in the right time of year so it’s not competing with football or NHL/NBA playoffs.

On a related note, I’ve actually been pretty surprised with American (non-playing) public responses to rugby. My club does a rugby night at a local pub (one of our sponsors) every week or two. We put on a super 14, or world cup, or whatever match and there’s beer and wing specials. We’ve even shut off yankees sox games or other more popular games in favor of rugby and had pretty great responses. There’s a bunch of guys who show up every time, even though they have no idea what’s going on, just to watch the rugby. And a lot of random people, who just happen to be at the pub, start watching and getting into the game.

[quote]Padilla7921 wrote:
m0dd3r wrote:
Any particular reasoning behind that? I don’t necessarily disagree, or at least not completely, I’m just curious as to why you think that?

Well, I do think that more people will become attuned to it and will thoroughly enjoy it. The thing is, sports don’t hit mainstream overnight. It takes more than just a TV contract to gain popularity. And really, if you think about it, a solid fan-base is established BEFORE the sport goes on national TV (or any TV for that matter) and after it does, the popularity grows more peripherally than hardcore. After a while, some of those peripheral fans end up becoming “hardcore” (by that I mean true fans, through think and thin). But it’s a long process, no doubt.[/quote]

Well, your sort of exactly right. Sports do generate a fan base before getting national tv exposure. This is why this ESPN deal is so big, it means rugby in the US is getting there. I don’t agree with the peripheral vs. hardcore fan thing though. Right now at least, most American fans of rugby are pretty hardcore. Mostly because most the fans are players, or at least former players and coaches.

The way the sport is organized and played is very different than most American sports. Take football for instance. Most guys play in high school, if they’re good enough college, and then they’re pretty much done or they play “semi-pro” ball for a while (excepting the .1% that go on to play pro ball). Rugby doesn’t really have much high school presence in the US yet, so most people don’t get introduced to it until college. But after college is when it gets fun. Guys will play men’s (or women will play women’s) club rugby for decades. There are even old boys leagues for guys over 35. Hell, 2 weeks ago I watched a 70 year old scrum half play against our old boys team. Been playing for over 50 years! And believe me, the older the players get, the bigger and heavier they are, and the worse they cheat, it doesn’t get any easier.

Anyway, my point is, that the hardcore fan base is already there. Sure it could be a lot bigger, and there could be a purely “fan” base as opposed to players and others involved in the sport, but it’s a bit different than most American sports because of how long people stay involved with their clubs.

[quote]m0dd3r wrote:
sumgai wrote:
Americans love seeing people get hit (NFL, NHL, NASCAR, etc.) but they don’t like seeing just anyone getting hit (XFL failed miserably). Rugby will catch on as well as soccer has in America. In other words, it wont.

Americans have been conditioned to like OUR sports, not theirs. Baseball, football, basketball, NASCAR are all American sports. Rugby, futbol, Formula 1, cricket, et al will never be big in this country.

I’m not saying they aren’t great sports (I LOVE F1). They’ll just never make it here.

Well, for one, American football evolved out of rugby, so it’s not really one of ‘their’ sports. Secondly, USA rugby currently has over 65,000 members, and that’s mostly just players, coaches, and refs. Not fans. And as far as appeal goes, it’s got the contact and violence of football and hockey, but without the expensive gear or necessity of ice. It’s more of a running time, non-stop sport than football, like soccer or hockey, but without the long boring stretches of passing in soccer. And it’s also one of the only full contact sports for women, especially at the higher levels (same rules for men and women in rugby).

I’m not saying it will ever be as big as the NFL. But I can certainly see it gaining a lot more popularity than soccer has (and soccer’s actually gathering a stronger following every year). Especially if they fit the season in the right time of year so it’s not competing with football or NHL/NBA playoffs.

On a related note, I’ve actually been pretty surprised with American (non-playing) public responses to rugby. My club does a rugby night at a local pub (one of our sponsors) every week or two. We put on a super 14, or world cup, or whatever match and there’s beer and wing specials. We’ve even shut off yankees sox games or other more popular games in favor of rugby and had pretty great responses. There’s a bunch of guys who show up every time, even though they have no idea what’s going on, just to watch the rugby. And a lot of random people, who just happen to be at the pub, start watching and getting into the game.[/quote]

And chicks dig rugby players. They always want to see the ‘O’ face. You know what I am talking about.

[quote]m0dd3r wrote:
Anyway, my point is, that the hardcore fan base is already there. Sure it could be a lot bigger, and there could be a purely “fan” base as opposed to players and others involved in the sport, but it’s a bit different than most American sports because of how long people stay involved with their clubs.[/quote]

I see your point. I don’t know too much about rugby, but I know enough and have watched enough to enjoy it and respect it. I’ve never played it personally, but I’d sure as hell like to. I hope it grows in America and creeps into mainstream or semi-mainstream. It’s gonna be a tough fight against lacrosse. Why does anyone like lacrosse anyway?

Finally, then maybe we won’t have to watch wnba or any other woman sports, besides Beach Volleyball. Honestly I am not being sexist but who watches?
In rugby’s defense, I have never played it nor know the rules but it is entertaining to watch.

why?

last i checked americans go crazy over fat men playing poker…and that was all from television coverage.

[quote]Guerrero wrote:
why?

last i checked americans go crazy over fat men playing poker…and that was all from television coverage.[/quote]

That was a phase and didn’t affect nearly as many people as the media would like us all to think. I think it’s great that rugby has a national TV contract, but at the same time, I’m skeptical that the general population will accept the sport with open arms.

I figure if some over priced Canadian bullshit like Hockey can get big, so can Rugby.

[quote]Guerrero wrote:
I figure if some over priced Canadian bullshit like Hockey can get big, so can Rugby.[/quote]

Blaspheme.

They have Hockey teams in f*ing Florida, in Southern California, lol. If people who have never seen snow will root for some people playing some Canadian ice rink game, I don’t think it is far fetched for Rugby to become a national craze and past time.