Today it was announced that the long awaited bout between the National Rugby Football League, Rough Riders, and the Leicester Tigers had been officially cancelled. The anticipated match was set to be played on August 8, 2015 in Philadelphia, was cancelled when the USA Rugby Union (also known as the National Governing Board) rejected the request to sanction the match.
Leicester Tigers chief executive Simon Cohen said: “Rugby is a rapidly growing game in the USA and the appearance of the Leicester Tigers would certainly have helped to create a buzz around the sport, together with NRFL’s proposals for a professional game there.
“It is very disappointing that a fixture which would help to launch professional club rugby in the United States should be blocked by a national governing body charged with the development and growth of the game in their own country.
The National Rugby Football League was expected to launch the debut of, what would have been considered, the first full professional Rugby team, and subsequently, the first fully professionalized Rugby league. Rugby Law, LLC, the organization behind the National Rugby Football League, had been operating independent of USA Rugby. The reason for USA Rugby’s involvement was based on a requirements by World Rugby to allow any sanctioned matches between teams from different countries, that each countries recognized union must approve of the match.
USA Rugby has yet to make any comments about the ruling. One has to consider what may have lead to USA Rugby’s decision. It is known that USA Rugby will be hosting matches in Philadelphia against the Harlequins on August 30, and Chicago, against Australia, on September 8. If there is a possibility of anything that could be perceived as a monopolization of the sport, then this could lead to further issues in the future. On the other hand, many have questioned the legitimacy of Rugby Law, LLC and the NRFL, and may consider this ruling to be one that was made to prevent any actions that may be deemed detrimental to the reputation of Rugby. The state of Rugby in the United States is at a critical point where its movement into mainstream US culture is very possible. What happens in these earliest stages will set the barrings for the future.
You can read more on the issue here at Philadelphia Fixture Blocked by USA Rugby