Fenway Park Series Part 9: First Rugby Game
The genesis of this blog stems from the 100th birthday of Fenway Park in 2013 when I wrote a blog post about my memorable first game at Fenway Park. This began the “Fenway Park Series” in which I also recounted my first Celtics, Patriots, college basketball, soccer and other sports experiences. This is the second of two recent entries in this series, the first being my first WNBA game.
WHEN: February 17, 2018 – it was the third game of the 2018 Americas Rugby Championship (ARC).
THE TEAM: The U.S. Rugby team is ranked #23rd in the World Rugby Rankings and is the second highest ranked team in the Americas behind #10 Argentina. It won the 2017 ARC and has qualified for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
After beating both Argentina and Canada, the Eagles were facing #30 Chile, who had lost ten straight ARC matches dating back to 2016, before 2,000 at Titan Stadium at Cal State Fullerton.
THE GAME: American football has its roots in rugby, which dates back to 1857 in Edinburgh, Scottland. The game is a contest of two teams of 15 players that is played in two 40-minute halves on a field that is 122.5–133.4 × 74.3 yards.
The game is fast-paced and relatively easy to follow, although we had the advantage of sitting ahead of someone who played at Cal (the epicenter of U.S. rugby with 28 national championships) that was providing running commentary and explanations to his friends who also appeared to be newbies.
USA opened the scoring in the fourth minute on a try by Captain Nate Augspurger and would lead 10-3 at halftime.
The USA turned it on in the second half crushing Chile 45-13, with the final points coming from former Chicago Bear fullback Paul Lasike in his USA team debut.
THE REST OF THE STORY: The Eagles would beat Brazil and Uruguay to complete their sweep of the field and win their second ARC.
Last month, for the first time in 94 years, USA beat a Tier 1 Nation with a 30-29 thriller over #6 Scotland.
They will compete in Pool C in the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, which includes #4 England, #8 France, #10 Argentina and #12 Tonga.
The growth in popularity of rugby in the United States was also demonstrated by the inaugural season of the Major League Rugby with teams in Austin, Glendale (Denver), Houston, New Orleans, San Diego, Seattle and Utah that play in stadiums of 3,500 to 5,000. This weekend, the Seattle Seawolves won the inaugural championship game over Glendale.
The 2019 season will feature teams from New York and Los Angeles, with expansion to Washington scheduled for 2020.
Featured Image Credit: USA Rugby.