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The day after New Zealand won the 2011 Rugby World Cup, defeating France 8-7 in the final, the NY Times Sports section carried a lengthy article about the match from Emma Stoney, a stringer from New Zealand.
This contrasted with the short squib of a Reuter’s press release four-years earlier when South Africa beat England in the 2007 RWC final in France.
Since the RWC in 2007, the Times has significantly augmented the amount of sports press given to rugby. Specifically, the NY Times Magazine of July 2016 ran a long and extensive piece detailing the creative initiatives and investment plans of Doug Shoninger’s PRO Rugby League. Recently, on July 20, 2018, the Times previewed the World Rugby Sevens World Cup in San Francisco.
The Times rugby reporting parallels increased media coverage around the country, but, particularly, in those cities that feature tournaments or Test matches. More media also appeared in those cities that hosted PRO or Major League Rugby teams.
The proliferation of USA media attention to rugby is a positive sign of the growing (but still smallish) interest in the sport. In addition, more rugby is featured on US cable sports programming, both domestic and European professional leagues.
The takeaway to the sports section reader is that rugby activity, at home, or more probably, abroad, goes on all the time. But there remains a vague notion of what events occur locally, if any, in the absence of national leagues with weekly scores and statistics.
To offset this lack of USA rugby match event reporting, the Times has promoted the occasional feature item about global rugby. One appeared in today’s Sports Section (August 6, 2018), which narrates Gisbourne Boy’s High School in New Zealand’s North Island. The article explains why boys of Maori descent inhabit a nativist sports culture dedicated to playing rugby, with the goal of maybe being chosen for the All Blacks.
The High School gives scholastic credit for rugby training.