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A New Year’s resolution for everyone in rugby media, and for all others, too, is to stop using the term “sleeping giant” to describe the state of rugby in the United States. The term – now an inaccurate cliché – seems to have found a permanent home in the Anglo-Irish and ANZAC sports media. And, it is overused by many in the US media as well.
In the first place, our rugby (since the decade of the 1960s) has never been sleeping, dormant, hibernating, idle, and certainly, not napping. For over fifty-years, American rugby has been vibrant, active, expanding, and dynamic on all levels from international sides for Women and Men down to Girls and Boys high school clubs.
Tournaments at all levels. Tours abroad. World Cup Men’s and Women’s fifteen and sevens participation. The USA Sevens event in Las Vegas every March. The Can-Am at Saranac Lake in summer. The Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship in June. Matches. Playoffs. Regional and National championships in sevens and fifteens for D-I, D-II, D-III, and NSCRO colleges. Major League Rugby, a professional league. Business school tournaments at Duke and Thunderbird. A Women’s club super league. More than two-hundred summer sevens events. Television coverage. Etc.
Not a Rip Van Winkle sport.
As to the “giant” part of the designation, it references the size of the country, some 3,000 miles wide from coast to coast with cross country Interstates running along I-10 (Jacksonville to San Diego) up to I-90 (Boston to Seattle). Sure, it’s a big country with approximately 3,300 clubs. Yet, rugby remains a niche athletic activity or an alternate sport whose national impact is not “gigantic.” A graphic of the giant Gulliver as rugby USA tied down is sort of an image oxymoron, because the sport, compared to the historically popular football, basketball, and baseball, is Lilliputian within America.
If we can agree never to parrot the erroneous “sleeping giant” statement, then maybe it’s also time to get rid of the nauseating triteness of another rugby-centric cliché…”across the pond” to denote the Atlantic Ocean.