USA Rugby's motto, inspiring America to fall in love with rugby, ironically may come to life with this
Saturday's Sunday's national broadcast of the USA 7s tournament.
The ABC programming will position rugby as an Olympic-caliber sport far distant from tavern-league stereotypes, while match play will show the semifinalist Eagles rising to compete with the world's best. With national carriage reaching 98 percent of American homes, this broadcast is the most significant breakthrough since the USA's Epson Cup Pacific Rim games were shown on Fox in the late 1990s.
But the showpiece has been orchestrated by private management rather than the national body. Having bailed USA Rugby out of a heavy loss maker in 2005, American International Media needed nearly three years to surmount the crippling deficits of LA's Home Depot Center and embark on aggressive TV expansion.
Despite the down economy, 2009 attendance all but held even with year-ago figures, according to tournament executives. Meanwhile a nearby motocross event fell 20 percent, failing to sell out for the first time in 10 years.
But it comes down to this: Watch it (or tape it if you are out playing) in order to signal the commercial market there is an audience for our sport. Tell your friends too.
If you are a rugby man,
Saturday Sunday at 5pm ET is appointment viewing.