Major League Rugby Kicks Off With Universal Appeal

As told by Glendale’s Director of Rugby, Mark Bullock

Coaches Blog, Glendale Rugby Date 3.8.18, the location – Glendale’s Infinity Park Rugby Stadium and Try Club

Tonight the Raptors were able to really test out their home turf and practice in Infinity Park Stadium for the first time since the fall. We planned to make this a big event and invited all the owners of the team to come in and watch. We then held an owners meet ‘n greet, allowing the investors of our team a chance to meet the players and staff and vice versa. Everyone had a nice dinner and finished the evening with a few choice words from the players, owners and other VIP’s in the room.

From my perspective, it is very interesting to see the variety of backgrounds that make up this team, not just on the pitch, but off. It’s no surprise, of course, to see our player base expand. We have taken our loyal and talented Glendale players from before and added a handful of international rugby players who are looking to secure a professional contract in the U.S. We have such an incredible mix of American players, some of whom have grown up right here in Denver, along with international recruits from Georgia, Australia, South Africa and the UK, all of whom believe that professional rugby in the U.S. will be successful and they want to be a part of it here in Glendale.

Again, however, what I wasn’t entirely expecting when we first started planning this venture was the variety of backgrounds we’d see buy into our professional team. The MLR, of course, set out as an initiative of the American rugby community in partnership with private investors. With that in mind, I think, most people just assumed our private investors would all be local rugby supporters. What’s great to see is that this league and our team, specifically, has really transcended all usual means of support and appeal. We have investors who have never really seen rugby before and just believe in its commercial appeal to long-time rugby enthusiasts from Australia and the UK. We have new fans and new players that fill our stands and our locker rooms with the belief this sport IS the next big thing.

The appeal of rugby right now, besides the fact that it’s going professional, is, in my mind, America’s desire to find an alternative. An alternative to the big paychecks and big egos and therefore big problems that dominate the other popular sports in the U.S. right now. The rugby culture sets us apart from other USA mainstream sports. By culture I mean that our players are part of the spectator base, coming up to the club house after a match and sharing their on-field experience and life experience with their fans. There are no airs about who is a professional player or not, the players just join in with the spectators and enjoy the interaction with those who come watch them play. We are not bigger than the game and the teamwork that makes rugby universally appealing to spectators who, also, have to work together as a team within their family units and places of employment. We are, in essence, a macrocosm of life, working together for a common goal and sharing our experience with our spectators. And, as we start branding ourselves as another successful professional sports team here in the Denver metro, I’m really hoping to instill a different experience, not only for our athletes, but for our fans and investors, than the rest of the current American professional sports. I can’t wait to see how our Glendale Rugby Team truly appeals to all.