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Canada represents today what it has always embodied, the USA’s main rugby competitor, its historic north of the border rival. The Canadians (without an official national XV nickname) lead the Eagles 38-12-1, winning the first game in 1977. For years, American pundits and pontificators have questioned why the Canadians have dominated these test matches, perceiving that though rugby in Canada established an earlier foothold, the two similar nations should be at athletic parity. There are many reasons for the Canadian rugger ascendancy, some pragmatic, others subtle, for the won-loss disparity. Here are an opening commentary four reasons:
1.Longevity: Rugby in Canada has been a major sport without serious competition (except winter time hockey) for many years. Athletes in the US have options to play (some professionally) baseball, basketball, football, tennis, soccer, and golf, all of which draw athletes away from rugby. This fact is particularly relevant in the autumn football contact sport option in the United States at the high school and college levels. A historic statistic: In 1929, Canada formed a Union (many clubs coming together under an umbrella organization) while, in the same year, the New York RFC was formed, the country’s first organized club. National Union versus but one club and you see the developmental time frame.
2.Commonwealth Country: An underscored reason: as part of Great Britain’s Commonwealth, Canada attracted immigrants in great numbers from England, Wales, and Scotland in the 19th-century who continued to play rugby, especially in Toronto and British Columbia. The US’s British beginnings peaked in the 18th century, declined in the 19th century when millions of new immigrants came from Germany, Ireland, Italy, etc…none of these rugby-playing nations. With strong ties to the Mother country (e.g.; the original Canadian flag shows the Union Jack in the canton, similar today to the flags of Bermuda, Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji), Canadians evinced a more “British” affinity in their politics, culture, and sport.
Did your father or grandfather play gridiron football for the Alma Mater? Well, that’s what you’ll play if you attend the same university. It’s the same with rugby; generations of Canadians at college and clubs continued to play the sport of their ancestors. In addition, a small population nation of 34 million (USA at 314 million), rooted and emphasized those sports (hockey and winter sports) where the national team competed on the world’s sport stage, and rugby also assumed a lesser notoriety. Rugby results in Canadian media are front sports page news while in the USA, it is no news.
4. Governmental support - Money from thre national government.