It’s not quite that simple, but this English-born game is the precursor to football as it came to be played in the U.S. The field is a similar rectangular, though slightly bigger than for an American football game. The ball can be advanced only by kicking it forward or by running with it (no forward passes). Sometimes the referee’s calls are puzzling to the neophyte viewer (and sometimes to the experienced player), but even watching for the first time can be entertaining. The physical nature of the game seems to appeal to most Americans too.
Rugby has been played in the U.S. for a very long time but has been kind of “under the radar” until now. Though in recent years, several cable networks have begun televising game. This development pleases those who’re already fans, of course, and is introducing this version of football to a potentially much larger audience.
Channel surfing over this past weekend I came upon a game between the Seattle Seawolves and Rugby United New York, two of the 12 professional teams playing in North America’s Major League Rugby competition. It was an exciting contest. The first half was dominated by the home team Seawolves, but the visitors mounted a determined comeback in the second half and scored in the waning minutes to take a 23-21 victory back to New York. While some of the visitors may have longer-term ties to the Big Apple, many of them were recruited from countries having powerful presences in this international game. Some, especially those from Pacific island nations, had names difficult for most Americans to pronounce. Others with more familiar monikers hailed from England, South Africa and New Zealand. Their captain is among several who began their playing careers in Ireland. There was home grown talent on the New York squad, too. Among the Americans was Nic Civetta, who played at Notre Dame and has been a member of the U.S. national team known as the Eagles.
Seattle also had its international contingent. Assembling a team for this professional level requires bringing in talent from around the world. The Seawolves’ website indicates they have players from South Africa, Australia, New Zealand. The roster includes an Argentinian fly half and even a winger from Fukuoka, Japan. However, there is also local representation. On the squad are Henry Hill from Tacoma and Kellen Gordon whose home is in Kenmore, Washington. Though not a Washington native, Eric Duchele is an American from Kentucky. He’s become a fan favorite and has earned the nickname “The Beast.”
In a call to the Seawolves office this morning, Taste Washington Travel was told that the organization is complying with all the social distancing protocols and is happy they can once again welcome fans back to Starfire Stadium, their home ground in Tukwila. The season concludes with a home game against the Houston Sabercats on July 15. For tickets and more information about the Seattle Seawolves visit www.seattleseawolves.com.