@ kreb - I have NO FUCKING IDEA why soccer is more popular than rugby in the United States. One would logically assume that most Americans would want to watch an aggressive, tough, hard hitting game to where people bleed and fight on the field occasionally. It SHOULD appeal to both the football (NFL) and hockey fan base...
A lot of my friends say that they just don't understand the rules and that many infractions happen so fast that they just don't know what's going on. They're used to NFL style instant replays where they show each play in slow motion two or three times... Obviously you can't do that in rugby. Although I am seeing instant replay more and more each year.
My hope is that now that rugby will be in the Olympics, it will gain some traction here. The first step is to make a PROFESSIONAL team. As of now, each member of the Eagles holds a full time job on his own and has to take time off from work and pay for airfare to play in international tournaments, while other countries are practicing together twice a day, six days a week. We simply can't compete effectively against that.
Then you have the fact that NONE of the international games are available to watch here. There are some streaming web sites, but then you have to watch it in the middle of the night, which MOST people can't do. Add to that the lack of advertising traditionally associated with rugby (which is starting to change) you have less financial incentive for networks to carry it.
AND the nail in the coffin is that MOST Americans are completely ignorant and almost hold an "attitude" against things foreign (particularly European). Virtually NO ONE (other that die hard fans such as myself) would travel to Europe to watch international competition, so there would almost need to be a separate professional league for North America. The closest thing we have is the Super League which are the top 16 teams in the US (that's the division I played in) but those matches are not even televised locally, much less nationally.
In other words, we've got a long way to go! LOL