United States of America
The United States of America is on such a vast scale that there really is something for everyone. From beaches to snow covered peaks. The bright lights of big cities to the Great Plains. With four million miles of highway it is a road trippers dream, breathe in the sights and sounds of all it has to offer. The diversity of people is only matched by the diversity of food, you will find some of the best examples of every cuisine you could imagine. This is a rugby nation on the rise, take advantage and play rugby in the USA today.
There are well over 2,500 clubs playing rugby in the USA. The numbers of players are highest in the big states such as California, New York and Pennsylvania. But rugby is equally as popular in New England and in the Rocky Mountain states of Utah and Colorado.
Rugby is never going to be as popular as the big three organisations (NFL, NBA and MLB) but it certainly has the potential to be one of the next big sports. The profile of the sport has risen due to sevens being included into the Olympics and the recent success of the USA sevens team. The United States is considered highly likely to host the 2027 Rugby World Cup which would result in greater revenue being pumped into rugby.
Top level club rugby in the USA is Major League Rugby (MLR). The league is contested by 12 teams: eleven from the USA and one from Canada. It is run in a conference format with teams being split into the Eastern and Western Conferences each made of six teams. In the west you have Seattle, San Diego, Utah, Colorado, Austin and Houston. Toronto, New England, New York, Washington DC, Atlanta and New Orleans play in the east. The top three teams from each conference will progress to the postseason games. The wildcard game takes place between the second and third ranked teams, followed by a playoff game between the wildcard winner and conference winner. The winners from each conference play offs then face each other in the league championship.
Due to the big money nature of sport in the USA and the franchise system, there is some money to be made in the MLR. Recently, the league has seen the introduction of some big name players such as Ma’a Nonu, Mathieu Basteraud and Tendai Mtawarira (the beast). You may not be earning as much as these guys but with the league looking to improve quickly. For top level players from Europe, Australia and New Zealand it could be a smart financial move.
The USA rugby club structure sees the country divided into Conferences. The winners of each conference advance to the league semi finals, with the two champions competing in the National Championship.
There are four divisions in the Pacific North which are split regionally between North California and the Pacific Northwest. Here you can find teams in amazing places like San Francisco, famous for the golden gate bridge the city welcomes all with open arms. Or in Nevada, the home of Las Vegas. Nothing more needs to be said about Sin City.
The three Pacific South Divisions are split between the regions of Arizona, Rio Grande and Southern California. Discover all that L.A. has to offer, from Hollywood to California’s best tacos to the highest concentration of vegan eateries in the USA. The other large city in Southern California is San Diego, the perfect home for surf lovers, with more than 60 beaches and arguably America’s perfect weather. Make Arizona your new home and road trip along Route 66 into the wild west. Uncover the beauty of Monument Valley, the Grand Canyon and Cathedral Rock. The Rio Grande encompasses areas down into New Mexico, including the cities El Paso and Albuquerque.
The Frontier is made up of areas in Mid America and the Rocky Mountains, one of the most beautiful mountain ranges on earth. Denver, is one of the fastest growing cities in the US. Within a few hours drive you can find first class skiing, hiking and vast areas of wilderness. Kansas City, famous for its flaming barbecues with over 100 joints across the city. The perfect starting point to discover the Great Plains.
The red river region is centred around the state of Texas, a vast state bigger than many countries it is diverse and welcoming. From big cities of Dallas, Austin and Houston to small towns Texas has it all. Dallas and Houston possess rich arts and cultural precincts, as well as some of the USA’s highest standard of living. The music scene in Austin is incomparable with endless live music offerings year round.
New York, the city that never sleeps is everything you could imagine and more. Everyday as you roam the city you’ll find yourself looking skyward in awe. The dining and shopping capital of the US and the centre of all things arts. The oldest city in the country, Boston. Discover the history on the freedom trail that winds its way around the city. In Boston the people are passionate about their sport, discover it for yourself at a New England Patriots or Boston Red Sox game. The Atlantic north region stretches down as far as the state of Georgia. Here you will find the city of Atlanta, famous for its southern hospitality. It is a quirky and cultured metropolis with a youthful population.
Heading south on the east coast and you’ll find teams in the Mid-Atlantic. This area encompasses a number of states including Maryland, Pennsylvania, Washington and Virginia. Here you’ll find the capital Washington DC, arguably the political centre of the world, it is overflowing with iconic monuments. Philly will delight you with its small town charm and US revolutionary history. Other cities such as Baltimore and Pittsburgh may not be as iconic but friendly locals will certainly make you feel at home if you choose to play rugby here.
Heading inland to the Midwest states of Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin. Here you will find a number of great American cities. Chicago, the Windy City, is a fanatical sports city and is well represented in terms of rugby teams. It is every festival goers dream, with around 200 of them between March and September. Detroit, the ‘motor city’, the birthplace of Motown Records. It is a city that has undergone a transformation in recent years with an influx of young professionals turning old abandoned buildings into distilleries, cafes and galleries.
Finally the Southern region includes teams from the Carolina’s, Georgia, Florida and the ‘true south’. Discover Disney World and Orlando’s plethora of other theme parks. Florida boasts beautiful beaches that Americans dream of vacationing to. Miami is diverse, creative and is in close proximity to the Everglades National Park. For a completely different vibe head to the true south. For the music lover you’ve got Memphis and Nashville, both ooze southern hospitality and mouth watering food. In New Orleans they love a party, with a parade or festival almost every week of the year.
What Are You Waiting For?
Want to play rugby in the USA? Start you research today, the country is enormous so it make some time but it’s important to get the right fit. This page hasn’t covered every state let alone every city so there’s plenty more you can do. Once you have decided on some locations take a look at our blog for some ideas on what to do next. Play rugby in the USA today!