2011 13/09
World Cup to see rugby's popularity
soar in America?

A new deal forged by US TV channels could bring rugby to millions of new viewers.

America has always been fascinated more by American Football than rugby, coming down on the side of their home-grown sport as opposed to its older brother. However, a deal forged by popular US sports channel NBC Sport will enable many Americans to watch their team - the USA Eagles - compete in this Autumn's Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, reports.

The announcement could have a huge effect on rugby in America, both on and off the pitch. As favour for the sport grows, many local teams could get extra publicity, with more people opting to see games played live. As this happens, rugby jumpers could also see a rise in popularity, muscling in on the hugely lucrative clothes market, where the sale of NFL jerseys make billions of pounds every season.

Speaking to BBC News of the take-up, former England International and now chief executive of national governing body USA Rugby explained: "We're expecting incredible growth in our youth, high school and college programmes and that's been our strategy, to build the foundation of the game and get the ball into the hands of kids at an early age.

"I think in the game itself, they enjoy the athleticism and the contact. And they've found it intriguing that you would sit down with opponents after the game and have dinner with them. Having that respect for your opponents, on and off the field - and for officials - is not normal in professional sport."

Whilst a national league in the US is still a long way off however, Melville believe it could well still happen, bringing the sport which is successful the world over to one of the few countries in which it is yet to fully take off.

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