Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Pro Rugby Coming to the USA and Why It Should Come to Ohio

Well the time every rugby fan and player has hoped for is just about upon us. That's right, professional rugby is on its way to the USA in the form of the National Rugby Football League. For the moment, the league is in the formation stages. They are taking applications and preparing to hold combines to see who they think would be able to cut the mustard in the new league.

Once the combines are concluded and players have been signed there is still the issue of teams and where to put them. Naturally, there will probably be teams held out West in California and Colorado, in the South in places like Texas and on the East Coast in New York; but unless they decide to cram every team in those three regions other locations have to be considered.

Ohio would be a prime state to host at least because of the facilities available and the established rugby excellence throughout the state.

Ohio has the facilities necessary to host and train an elite professional rugby team. There are plenty of universities in the state with the fields and exercise facilities necessary to train and care for these athletes. The one that immediately comes to mind whenever people speak of Ohio college-level rugby is Ohio State University. Their two grass fields are arguably the nicest in the state and with access to the trainers; and workout equipment the football players use the top-tier athletes that would be playing professional rugby would be able to commence their high-level training without missing a beat.

Another university with a strong rugby history is Bowling Green State University. The team has always been a powerhouse in the college rugby world, and they've had a great run of success recently, not only making it to but hosting the initial round of Nationals. The university tucked away in Northwest Ohio only has one rugby-dedicated field but the university doesn't lack anything as far as space is concerned so expanding is always an option. Bowling Green also has an exercise facility with trainers that could offer professional players the privacy and equipment they would need to train at their highest level.

There are plenty of other universities and colleges around the state that could possibly host a professional team, but OSU and BGSU would probably be the best. The main thing that would put OSU ahead is their location. Nestled in the heart of Columbus, OH, the city already has the infrastructure needed to host a professional team. It would take some minor adjustments to make it all work but it would be relatively easy to do. The city has plenty of venues to hold games and practices and could easily withstand the influx of people visiting for matches, while Bowling Green would have to make some alterations or look to some of its nearby neighbors for help in some of those respects.

Looking at other facilities, Cleveland has a number of options - whether they be one of the many indoor soccer facilities they have or SPIRE Institute out in Geneva. The only down side is the lack of rugby-specific trainers they could offer the team. In all likelihood they would come with the team but it would be nice to have some supplementary help on hand. In that sense, Columbus would be the best option for a professional team. Not only do they have established and successful men's teams but they have a tried and true development academy in the city as well. Any professional rugby team that came to the area would likely be wise to work alongside these programs to make sure they can develop their players in the proper fashion.

Taking a larger look at the issue of space, there are plenty of cities in the state looking to add professional sports to what they can offer visitors and residents. There are only a few who could probably successfully house the team and all that would come with it. Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Dayton.

All four have a rugby background, at least one men's and women's club team and college rugby teams. A professional rugby team could easily share a football stadium with any professional football or college team in these cities - and, let's be honest, they would probably but the facilities to better use than the Browns and Bengals.

All joking aside, these cities all have a number of professional sports teams already established and the infrastructure necessary to accommodate them so putting a professional rugby team in one of these cities wouldn't put much additional stress on the cities in question. Plus, all of the cities are very accessible due to the fact that they are set on or near some main highways. Cleveland, Cincinnati and Dayton are also on bodies of water and state borders, respectively, adding to the access options they have.

Should at least one team come to Ohio, fans coming to the league will need people to break down the game in a way that is informative for newcomers and entertaining for those who know the ins and outs of the game already. For that you need people who are knowledgeable about the sport that are used to breaking it down. Ohio has a wealth of people who are experienced with rugby and have been teaching everything from the basics through the finer points of the sport for years. Whether they are talking to children, adolescents, college students or adults, these people can break down the sport and make it accessible. Furthermore, with the time most of these people have been around the game they can certainly inject humor into their explanations should they need to bring rugby to a viewing audience.

1 comment:

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