Washington and the Chicago Lions are preparing to celebrate their 50th anniversaries, not long after Old Blue commemorated the milestone.
Such heritage belies the 'sleeping giant' moniker unthinkingly embraced by American rugby's casual observers. Hard-working generations have planted and nurtured their clubs in a trio of the world's great cities, contending with economic boom and bust, war and terrorism, and of course the succession of players.
None of the West's leading sports can point to an indigenous presence in the principal cities of Europe or Asia.
Yet these proud moments are very much private ones. They do not belong to amorphous 'US rugby', any more than a team's objectives are beholden to regional and national administrators. American rugby outfits which reach their sixth decade well understand the purpose of a club is to provide competition for members.
Only succeeding at this mission makes greater achievements possible, and these teams' distinct values and identities reflect what has worked best.
Predictably enough, the threesome have sent scores of players to the international ranks, and yielded administrators driving initiatives from USARFU's founding to Super League management. But as Boulder has squelched representative play and spurned its erstwhile top senior competition, they have sensibly refocused on their own affairs.
Old Blue now husbands a 7-figure endowment which offsets operating expenses and seeds youth play, while the Lions can lay claim to American's leading metropolitan rugby facilities. Both prefer to trumpet their competitive record, however, particularly in 7s. (See especially the middle section of Old Blue's 50th anniversary video.)
Washington, still exhausted from its Super League stint, has no such talking points. Perhaps the memories generated by Saturday's 50th anniversary dinner may spur renewed vigor.
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