ESPN’s Kevin Van Valkenburg has an elaborate plan for getting the U.S. involved in rugby. More involved that is, than is currently the case, where the sport is more novelty than anything else.
His plan is to poach some running backs, a defensive end and a practice squad from the NFL and have them coached by University of Ohio Buckeyes’ legend Urban Meyer.
According to Van Valkenburg, the result would be a squad that would, “so thoroughly dominate rugby, other countries would quit.”
He even went so far as to name the players he would suggest, taking to twitter to name running backs Leonard Fournette and Ezekiel Elliot. The defensive end would be J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans.
The flaw in that plan is that Watt would play part of the first game, and then miss the rest of the season due to injury, which has been his pattern over the past couple of NFL seasons.
Another flaw is that it would take much longer that the Americans are generally willing to devote to starting something and getting good at it.
The faster route would be for an American billionaire, something that seems suitable for, say, Elon Musk or perhaps Larry Ellison, to simply buy New Zealand and demand that the All Blacks be included in the purchase. They could then head to France to collect any Kiwi stragglers.
Van Valkenburg’s suggestion made it to the pages of the New Zealand Herald and produced the desired outrage, as he is an ESPN mouthpiece and talking head who buys heat by the barrel.
His post got the desired result, which was to garner responses from angry rugby fans who disputed his opinion, which he later said was meant to be ironic.
Tongue-in-cheek or otherwise, rugby is gaining some traction in the U.S.
The All Blacks lost a Test to Ireland that was played in Chicago in 2016. Later this month, they will be back for more, playing England in the city of Denver in late June.