Rugby Running Into a New Era

New Zealand’s national team, the All Blacks, played an exhibition match in November against the U.S. national team in Chicago, an event that highlighted the growing interest in the sport in the United States. Photo courtesy of JP Waldron/Zuma Wire/Zumapress.com
New Zealand’s national team, the All Blacks, played an exhibition match in November against the U.S. national team in Chicago, an event that highlighted the growing interest in the sport in the United States. Photo courtesy of JP Waldron/Zuma Wire/Zumapress.com

By Lisa Clifton

During the 1920 Olympic Summer Games in Antwerp, Belgium, the United States rugby team defeated France 8-0 to win the gold medal. Four years later, the American team celebrated another Olympic gold following a rematch in Paris that ended in a 17–3 score. The momentum and success of rugby in the United States was short-lived, however; weeks after the 1924 Olympics, the International Olympic Committee removed the sport from the Olympic program, taking with it the enthusiasm the sport had garnered and stunting rugby’s growth for decades.

Another 52 years would pass before the United States would establish another national team, which happened in 1976 following the formation of a new governing body called the United States of America Rugby Football Union, now known as USA Rugby. The sport was on its way, albeit slowly, to making its comeback.

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