Sports | October 24, 2021 4:53 pm

Could Rugby Be the Next Big Thing at HBCUs?

Another sign that the sport is growing domestically

Rugby might be getting a lot more enthusiasts in the United States.
Edgar Pimenta/Unsplash

In the last ten years, the profile of rugby in the United States has grown dramatically, including multiple forays into launching high-profile professional leagues. And while PRO Rugby didn’t entirely work out, Major League Rugby has now been up and running for several seasons. It might not be time to write an “is this the sport of the future” article quite yet, but nonetheless, the sport is making serious inroads.

A new article by Martin Pengelly at The Guardian explores another grassroots effort to raise the profile of the sport in the United States. Pengelly’s article focuses on the work being done by the James G Robertson & Clive Sullivan Rugby Foundation, a nonprofit with an ambitious goal. As Pengelly describes it, the group’s mission involves establishing “men’s and women’s rugby union teams at Howard, Morgan State, Bowie State and the University of the District of Columbia.”

For founder Carille Guthrie, who works in the U.S. State Department, bringing the sport to historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) echoes her own experience with the sport during her time in college. “[T]he rugby team was a lifeline in my final semester at the school, because I was kind of just spiraling and they were a little bit of sunshine,” she told The Guardian about her experience coming of age.

It’s an ambitious plan, but it also seems to be less about athletic glory and more about the sense of connecting with likeminded people that can come from playing team sports. And if rugby can help someone bond with others and enjoy life more, what’s not to like?