The biggest enemy to any fan of the elegant violence that is the sport of rugby is not their rival team, the referee, or the stadium overcharging for a beer. The biggest enemy of a rugby fan is time zones.
Unlike football, basketball, or baseball, the highest level of the sport is not being played stateside. This forces the American fans to wake up at ungodly hours of the night in order to catch a decent game.
Football fans are beginning to experience this pain with the NFL playing games in London, but they’re still planned out so that American fans are still able to watch in a decent hour back home. Not to mention each team plays across the pond only once a season.
Another problem the average rugby fan faces on a daily basis is not being able to find a damn game! One would think an 80 minute game of nonstop action and violence would be on the screens of every sports bar. Unfortunately, the only time they are on screen is during the Olympics or if you’re out too late at a small pub.
Luckily, in the words of Patrick Star, “We have technology.” There are a handful of sites like PeacockTV, ESPN+, and World Rugby that stream games for MLR, Six Nations, and a few other pro rugby leagues.
Some other streaming sites may require you to use a VPN in order to view games because they may not offer viewing options for Americans. So now you have to sift through lord knows how many VPN ads and reviews in order to find the right one.
There is nothing like watching a live rugby game in a stadium packed with passionate fans. There’s drinking, singing, and chants for anyone to join in on to support the home team and chirp the visitors.
Rugby games are very similar to pro soccer games. There are chants about a team’s favorite players, there are chants about opposing teams' players, and there is an atmosphere that is unlike anything in a Football or Baseball stadium.
The New Zealand All Blacks are known for being one of the most dominant teams in pro rugby, but they are also known for their Haka. The Haka is a ritual started by the Maori, New Zealand’s natives. The haka is a song and chant done before war in old times as a form of intimidation but now done to intimidate the opposing team.
The MLR is doing its best to achieve the same level of intensity with teams popping up all over the country. There are a few handfuls of international teams coming to the states for exhibition matches that are always a hit and often sold out. Hopefully, the MLR can capitalize on those and find where the biggest markets are.
There is a push being made for rugby to be bigger in America. Youth rugby camps are popping up all over to get the next generation aware of the great sport. ESPN2 is starting to air the occasional replay of international games that were played earlier. It is a long process, but the future of rugby is bright and promising.