Back in August, the NFL announced their plans to invest in professional rugby, starting a National Rugby Football League. An American investment group, which has cleverly titled themselves ‘Rugby Law’ has also invested in this venture with the NFL. Rugby law is a sports and entertainment company that coins themselves as the Alpha and Omega of elite professional rugby VXs in the United States. An article from Bleacher Report said that this new professional rugby league would soak up NFL talent. The NFL, I highly doubt will loose any talent from the rugby pool, however I do think the NFL will absorb rugby players, offering them more money to keep their sport #1 and keep rugby on a back burner.
Last year the New York Jets picked up Australian Hayden Smith. The most recent rugger to join the NFL clenches is Carlin Isles who has been called the ‘fasted man in rugby’ and a huge asset for the USA Rugby team. Isles played college football, and is reported to have ran a 4.22-second 40-yard dash in his workout for the Lions. He is currently on the Lions practice squad and this maybe a great thing for him, as undoubtly he will make more money with the NFL than he will playing rugby in the USA (as the sport’s commercial profits are still growing here), but is this a trend that will continue? Will the NFL only sponsor a professional rugby league in hope of poaching the best players for their own person profits and gains?
Further more, Rugby Law looks to add “entertainment value” to the sport, which if you’ve ever been to a big game, there is plenty already going on in the stands. This company also boasts the first rugby combine, which obviously they do not know that there has already been a rather successful one for the past few years by Severi Rugby. They also need to realize the IRB is the rugby law, and that this company cannot make whatever league adjustments that they or the NFL may want to to make the game more exciting.
Best of luck to Carlin Isles, may the choice you made to be in the NFL be prosperous and hopefully bring some interest and growth to the USA Eagles. What about Isles Olympic dreams? What does the NFL’s investment mean compared to a national pride investment when it come to the Olympic hopes for our standing against the rest of the world? Will the growing Sevens Rugby seen suffer due to the NFL now investing in XVs? What are they calling in a rugby football league, instead of a rugby football union, like how EVERY team in the world is part of a union and how EVERY team in the United States belongs to their local rugby union (CARFU, IRFU, etc). They are already changing wording of what rugby is grouped into before the "league" is even fully established. I hope that it does not have negative effects for the sport of rugby here in America and that the sport will become a better stronger institution and the USA Rugby will continue to maintain the integrity that is has for the sport and the youth involved in the game.