USA: Olympic Rugby Champions
Last weekend saw the start of the seventh Rugby World Cup. The Americas are well represented in the competition with three teams in the finals. I thought I’d take the opportunity to see what titles in our collection that explore the development of rugby union in the American continent. Arming myself with the Rugby Compendium [BL shelfmark: HLR 796.333 Open Access] compiled by John M. Jenkins (no relation) to see if it could offer any possible hints.
September 11th saw the U.S. Eagles' first match of the tournament, against Ireland. The U.S. are currently the Olympic champions, beating France in the final of the 1924 Paris Olympics. This was the last time rugby union was included a competitive sport in the Olympics, though the Berlin Olympics did put it on has an exhibition event. The development of rugby union in the U.S. seems to focus on the West Coast, and the title California Football History by “Brick” Morse, 1937 [BL shelfmark: X.622/20122] appears to be a useful if brief introduction.
Turning to Canada, who have developed as a team recent years from their involvement in the Churchill Cup where they play their southern neighbour and the England “Saxons” regularly. As with the U.S. rugby union in Canada, plays third of forth fiddle to other sports although the lineage of the Canadian Rugby Football Union dates back to 1884. The tome Canada learns to play : the emergence of organized sport, 1807-1914, Allan Metcalfe, 1987, [BL shelfmark: YL.1989.a.1808] covers the development of sports in nineteenth-century Canada.
As a number of teams have found out to their cost in previous World Cups, you cannot underestimate Argentina, whose prowess on the field shows through time and again. They were unlucky not to prevail in the Pool B clash with England on Saturday last. The British influence in Argentine sport can be traced in Victor Raffo’s El origen británico del deporte argentino : atletismo, cricket, fútbol, polo, remo, rugby durante las presidencia de Mitre, Sarmiento y Avellaneda 2004 [BL shelfmark: YF.2006.a.19585].
Enjoy the World Cup!