It’s always disappointing when one sport loses its participation in the Olympics, just as wrestling did earlier this week. Just imagine all the excitement that was felt around rugby’s inclusion into the Olympics and then reverse it. That is what wrestling fans probably feel like right now. While it’s unfortunate, the decisions could have ramifications for rugby, especially in America.
The demise of wrestling as an Olympic sport will probably not drive more viewers to rugby. It’s true that rugby and wrestling have a lot of athletic similarities; they don’t necessarily share the same viewing audience. Plus, it’s not even certain that wrestling and rugby will overlap in Rio, rending a viewing conflict null. People who love physical, contact sport are going to like both wrestling and rugby. The real impact of this news could have more of a reverberation on the pitch.
For a rugby player to have experience wrestling is not uncommon. Some of the top players throughout the U.S. have experience wrestling in either high school or college. Now with wrestling out of the Olympics there could be more wrestlers who are willing to give rugby a try. That could help bolster squads around the country given that these players receive the proper training. After all, wrestlers still need to learn the game but if an athletic and strong 22-year-old wrestling champion were to take some time to learn the game with a DI club, he could garner serious attention from bigger clubs down the road. Unlike rugby, wrestling is an NCAA sport and will always have college scholarships to attract players, but if rugby could ever achieve the same status, rugby’s inclusion in the Olympics could help shift athletes toward the sport.
That doesn’t mean that rugby in America is all of a sudden going to get inundated with wrestlers. Some wrestlers simply wouldn’t make a good fit. There are varying types of weight classes and types of wrestling that make a simple transition to rugby difficult. However, what this could mean is that a few more athletes will see rugby as an attractive option and make the switch. If a few of those players pan out on the national team or elite cup stage, rugby in America will benefit. Could you imagine an athlete like Cael Sanderson, who went undefeated in four years of college and an Olympic gold medalist, playing for the 7’s team? Pending he learn the rules and nuances of the sport, he would make an excellent player.
Rugby has already tapped into the sprinter and football markets. As a result of these crossover athletes we’ve had people like Dan Lyle, Leonard Peters, Miles Craigwell, and Carlin Isles on our national teams. Lyle was outstanding while others are a work I progress, but they have the potential to be good. Wrestlers could now add to this pool.
Things aren’t over for wrestling. Leaders of the sport are meeting with the International Olympic Committee officials this week to lobby for the sports re-inclusion but things don’t look good. And while it’s sad to see athletes stripped of a chance to earn a gold medal, this could be American rugby’s opportunity to shine if it can present an attractive and viable alternative. Only time will tell.
Gilbert has released a new line of rugby cleats. The Gilbert Virtuo 8S is part of the exciting new product. Check it out.
The entire All Blacks apparel line has been updated for 2013/14. Check out the New Zealand All Blacks polo.
The Nike Tiempo is a solid rugby cleat and one of few styles still made from full-grain natural leather.
The Gilbert Blitz 8S rugby cleat is a great cleat at a great price of $69.99. Get a new pair of cleats today.
A cool looking all black rugby cleat with the high performance adidas is known for. Get in the Gear!
Wear the crest of the British and Irish Lions on your t-shirt. A great look for the summer.
The All Blacks Performance t-shirt is black with hints of blue from the training jersey. Very Cool.
The New Zealand All Blacks training jersey for 2013/14. Get in the Gear!
The USA Rugby Pro Alternate rugby jersey is perfect for any fan of the Eagles. Get yours to wear during the summer Test matches.
The NEW All Blacks 2013/14 jersey has arrived at World Rugby Shop. Dare to wear the colors of the All Blacks.