Representative play has made a modest comeback, with teams from the Rugby South, Capital, Northern, and Southern California unions in action in December.
Home to some of America's more populous leagues, the latter three teams were perennial contenders before USARFU abandonned its 30-year-old representative system last late decade.
The resurgence springs from players' fundamental urge to compete. Athletes who aren't on an international track nonetheless want to test themselves, to see how good they can be. Coaches, referees, and union officials see intrinsic merit in the pursuit, as well as opportunity for their own improvement.
Arguments against all-star play are numerous, most incorporating the view that geographic separation and lacking of funding fatally cripple efforts to help players systematically improve. Training is nothing more than haphazard preparation for sporadic matches. Better to concentrate energy and monies in the school or club environment.
Boulder never declared an end to representative competition. But in shying from organizational expense, hoping professionalized franchises were just around the corner, and failing to consider how the pell-mell transition from territorial to geographic unions would encompass rep-side matches, its lack of action stripped the all-star championships of their national dynamic.
In the current decade, the most interesting new competitions have originated outside USARFU: the 7s Collegiate Rugby Championship, the Varsity Cup, the hoped-for PRO Rugby league. But such expansion means the schedule has grown more crowded and demand for players multiplied.
While the representative game's future is far from clear, there may be a model in the South Panthers. Save for Atlanta's Life University, Southern teams haven't produced many Eagle hopefuls. But the South has forged a regular schedule against Caribbean opponents, and even won the North American-Carribean Rugby Association (NACRA) title in 2013.