Rugby invades the US with match at Soldier Field

By Mariel Turner

On the heels of a sold-out match at Soldier Field, rugby is growing in popularity in the U.S., according to sports experts. More than 61,000 people from across the U.S. traveled to Chicago to see the USA Golden Eagles compete with the New Zealand All- Blacks in November, surpassing the attendance numbers predicted by rugby officials.

“Rugby still lags far behind other sports like soccer in terms of weekly participation by the populace. But we’re in the middle of a growth spurt and it’s only a matter of time before we see comparable numbers on the rugby pitch,” said Jason Maloni, a former U.S. Men’s Rugby team manager.

The 2016 Summer Olympics will feature the seven-man game as an official sport and the U.S. is expected to participate. Jim and Scott Arnold, two brothers, one a US fan, and one a New Zealand fan, said they couldn’t be more excited about the expansion of rugby in the U.S.

“I started playing in ’73 when I lived in Africa. So I’ve been a player for a long time, 40 plus years,” said Jim Arnold. “I think it’s great,” added Scott Arnold. “We need to bring rugby to the U.S. and get this game going over here.”