The game's origin
In 1823 a high school boy named William Webb-Ellis felt like he had had enough of playing soccer, so during a match he decided that he would pick up the ball and run with it. His team mates took exception to that and tackled him to the ground. Thus the game was born. The boy's high school was located in a town in the midlands of England. That town's name? Rugby.
A history of rugby in the US
On May 14, 1874, Harvard University hosted Montreal’s McGill University, in Cambridge, Mass., for what would be the first recorded rugby game on American soil. It was the first of three games proposed by McGill. And, under the rules of “The Boston Game”, Harvard won 3 – 0. Those first two games were to be played in Cambridge, one under Harvard’s rules, the other under McGill’s rules. The third game would be played in Montreal under McGill’s rules. The next day the two teams played to a scoreless tie under the McGill rules. Harvard was so taken by McGill’s rules that they adopted them. And, that Harvard/McGill series sparked an interest on college campuses nationwide.
As American rugby’s popularity began to grow, rugby was soon included as a sport in four Olympic Games (1900, 1908, 1920, 1924), and the United States claimed victories in both the 1920 and 1924 Games. Shortly after the 1924 Olympics, however, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) removed rugby as an Olympic sport. Without the Olympic incentive, the sport’s growth in America collapsed and the game remained dormant for the next half century. However, during the 1960′s and ’70′s, the sport enjoyed a renaissance. With this renewed interest there became a need for a national governing body to represent the USA in the International rugby community. In response to the need for a centralized national structure, four territorial organizations gathered in Chicago, Ill., in 1975 and formed the United States of America Rugby Football Union (now known as USA Rugby) to serve as the game’s national governing body.
More than 30 years later, USA Rugby is an official member of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and the International Rugby Board (IRB). The organization has approximately 90,000 members and is responsible for the development of the boys, girls, high school, collegiate and club rugby programs, and ultimately all of the national teams representing the U.S. in international competitions.
The current structure of USA Rugby comprises seven Territorial Unions and 34 Local Area Unions that compete for regional and National Championships. The national office is located in Boulder, Colo., and is run by paid staff, including the union’s newest CEO and President of Rugby Operations, Dan Payne.