USA Rugby growing, but Gary Gold wants to be World Cup hosts
USA rugby coach Gary Gold peered through the aftermath of their World Cup mauling by England and set his sights on following Japan’s lead.
Gold wasn’t though referring to Japan’s shock 19-12 pool win over Ireland, although a win of that magnitude for the Eagles would certainly send shock waves around the world of rugby.
Gold was speaking before Japan’s surprise victory, and referring to Japan hosting of the 2019 World Cup, which he believes will see rugby lift off in the Asian country.
And South African Gold thinks that USA hosting such a tournament would send the sport’s popularity soaring and help them lift their “underdog status”.
“Instead of thinking about that we’ve got to improve our game enough in order to deserve to host a Rugby World Cup, I actually see it as the other way around,” Gold told the Japan Times.
“If the USA were able to host the Rugby World Cup in 2027 or 2031, I think that would give a lift to the game. There’s certainly enough interest.”
And why not? World Rugby executive Brett Gosper has hinted that the US could be a contender to host a World Cup in the next 10-15 years.
The tourist infrastructure is certainly present, along with the sporting venues and a host of broadcasters who would be happy to cover what would be a first.
It’s the fastest growing sport in America, apparently growing 82.4% in popularity between 2011 and 2016, with participants growing by more than a million from 2006 to 2016.
Neilsen research and World Rugby believes that there are more than 30 million rugby fans in the US - a number which is matched only by China.
The fact the rugby players can cross over to NFL is believed to have helped the sport grow so quickly over the last decade, while San Francisco’s hosting of the 2018 World Rugby Sevens was deemed a “resounding success”as well as Sevens being inducted as an Olympic Sport.
A statement by World Rugby read: “The 2018 edition in San Francisco was a resounding success, delivering extensive sporting, social and economic benefits for the wider Bay Area and showcasing the world’s best men’s and women’s sevens players to an unprecedented domestic and global audience.”
USA Sevens coach Mike Friday said: “I think sevens is the key to unlocking the game in America.”
And he may well be right, but developing a viable, competitive professional league for the 15-a-side form of the game must now be on the agenda.
Still USA Rugby has more than 125,000 players playing in 2673 clubs, with over 900 college teams.
As far as the heavy Pool C defeat to Eddie Jones’ England was concerned, Gold was downbeat.
"I feel we let ourselves down badly today," Gold told reporters after seeing his men beaten 45-7 by England’s second string.
"It was a bit of a calamity in Kobe tonight. We were taught a lesson today. We lost in every single aspect of the game, lost line-outs, defense and most importantly lost the kicking game.
"We're a better rugby team than that. Not as good as England but we're better than that.”