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Sports Then and Now



Is Rugby on the Verge of Something Big? 2

Posted on August 31, 2017 by John Harris
One of the 10 most popular sports globally, rugby is gaining in popularity in the United States.

One of the 10 most popular sports globally, rugby is gaining in popularity in the United States.

Rugby is one of the world’s ten most popular sports but, until now, with a few exceptions, it has largely been dominated by countries from the Commonwealth.

That could be all set to change, though, as the US looks ready to embrace “the hooligan’s game played by gentlemen.”

Increasing popularity in the US

Rugby has long been established on this side of the Atlantic, with the men’s national team featuring in all but one of the Rugby World Cups held since the tournament’s establishment in 1987.

With record crowds attending international tournaments and a ten-fold increase in participation among college students over the past ten years, it’s clear that rugby has tapped into a new market in the US. But why is this, and can it break the “Big Four” monopoly over here?

The future of US rugby

American football, baseball and basketball are the traditional US sports that the majority of the country has an interest in, while ice hockey is popular in Canada and the northern states. Soccer, with the help of the 1994 World Cup, Major League Soccer, and the involvement of British stars such as David Beckham and Steven Gerrard, has joined them in recent years, and rugby could also be making a play to break into this top tier.

115,000 players are registered with US rugby – a significant player base to tap into considering the multitude of sports that are played. Compare that to Australia, traditionally one of the best sides in the world. Though the population is obviously much smaller, only 86,000 are registered Down Under. More and more clubs are being set up and, despite the demise of PRO Rugby (the first North American professional rugby league) in 2016, it’s surely only a matter of time until a successful domestic competition is established.

Last year, Soldier Field in Chicago played host to Ireland v New Zealand, a historic game that saw the Boys in Green defeat the All Blacks for the first time in their history. The attendance was over 60,000 – a sure sign that rugby now has a significant audience in the US. Read the rest of this entry →

British and Irish Lions – Then and Now 0

Posted on May 08, 2017 by John Harris

British and Irish LionsThe British and Irish Lions is a rugby union team that comprises players from any of the Home Nations, i.e. England, Ireland, Scotland or Wales. With their 2017 New Zealand tour coming up, we’ve decided to take a walk down memory lane and uncover some of the key moments in this Test side’s history.

1950 – The team became known as the British Lions rather than the British Isles. This was the first time in 14 years that the Lions had toured and lasted nearly 8 months.

1955 – During the 1955 season, the Lions went up against the South African Springboks in a rare shared series. This year, the Lions made history by featuring Irish winger Tony O’Reilly, the team’s youngest test player at the age of 19 years and 91 days.

1959 – The Australian tour as straightforward from the beginning, but since the League was a far bigger game than the Union games; the team lost the series to New Zealand.

1962 – During this tour the Lions visited Namibia, Zimbabwe and Kenya after losing to the South African Springboks.

1966 – This was the last year the Lions played against two nations on one trip, namely Australia and New Zealand.

1968 – This was a disappointing tour for the Lions. First, they lost to South Africa, and then many of its members left the team to play Rugby League professionally once they returned home.

1971 – This was a glorious year for the Lions as Coach Carwin James inspired the team to their only series win in New Zealand.

1974 – This was one of the most successful tours in Lions’ history, but a disallowed Fergus Slattery try in the final minute resulted in a loss for the side.

1977 – The team was plagued with injuries and homesickness during the 1977 tour. Things got so bad that the Lions even lost to Fiji on their way home. Read the rest of this entry →

Sports Betting History Examined- Now and Then 0

Posted on March 07, 2017 by Beth Casey

gladiators-1The Early History of Sports Betting

Sports betting is thought to be a very old practice: the first evidence of its existence is over 2 000 years old. The first nation to be believed to indulge in this pastime were the Greeks, famous for their love of sporting activities, who used to place bets on a variety of athletic events.

The Romans then went on to usurp this Grecian habit, taking it further by rendering it a more commercial activity. They even assigned it a legal status, and bet on events like the Gladiator games. Even when this event ceased to be practiced, the gambling aspect of it survived, and went on to thrive in the various kingdoms the Romans established.

The Medieval Wagering Practices

In medieval times, some leaders frowned upon the practice of betting, and attempts were made to make laws forbidding it. This, however, only resulted in sports betting going underground, where it persisted, and underwent major evolutionary steps as new athletic activities were introduced.

Sporting Betting in England and Surrounds

Eventually gambling took off in England, with people there particularly fond of betting on horse racing events. The English took this love of gambling with them when they populated the rest of the planet, particularly the United States of America, and it was incredibly common with the inhabitants of the New World. Legal issues once again plagued the practice, however, a problematic situation that continues for American sports bettors today. Read the rest of this entry →

Some Brave Predictions for the 2015 Rugby World Cup 0

Posted on July 31, 2015 by Samantha Waites
Who will lift the 2015 Rugby World Cup?

Who will lift the 2015 Rugby World Cup?

For Rugby fans, the next sixty odd days can’t pass quickly enough. The 2015 Rugby World Cup is fast approaching and Rugby enthusiast just can’t wait for it to take stage. The wait for the World cup will be over in just over two-month’s time and following are a few brave predictions from me concerning the event.

The All Blacks won’t defend their Title

For Rugby fans around the world, loving the All Blacks is a hard thing to do since they pretty much win everything in sight. However, despite being the world’s best Rugby team at this point of time, it will be hard for team from New Zealand to defend its title. The reason for this is simple—they haven’t won a World Cup outside of their home soil. I cannot see the trend changing this time around.

The Irish will finally make it to the Semi-Finals

The Irish have tried again and again in World Cups to reach the Semi-Finals but for one reason or the other always seems to fall short of their mark. However, a maiden World Cup Semi-Final appearance is what the Irish victories against SpringBoks and Australia in the calendar year 2014 indicates.

Fiji will become a sorry tale a week after the Cup kicks off

Playing without some of their best players doesn’t help the cause of the most flamboyant Pacific island nation. The first five days of the competition is going to be tough period for Fiji as they’ll have to tackle two time Rugby champions: Australia with some of their star players missing.

Samoa will give Scotland a Scare

In the 2015 Rugby World Cup I can see the tiny nation of Samoa giving a massive scare to the team from Great Britain: Scotland. However, I can also see the Scots eventually coming through this nail-biting affair. Read the rest of this entry →

Rugby League: Who will win this year’s Challenge Cup? 3

Posted on June 08, 2015 by Simon Power

Rugby-1The Challenge Cup remains one of the greatest accolades in sport and is, behind the Super League Grand Final title, the biggest and most prestigious award in rugby league. This year’s tournament has been one of the best in recent memory, entertaining viewers with some tremendous tackling, phenomenal passing and sensational scores. As the tournament starts to heat up, most of the major teams remain in the competition and will be quietly confident of their chances this season. In fact, the only major shock so far came in the previous round as Hull KR earned an impressive away victory against Wigan Warriors to knock Shaun Wane’s men out of the competition.

Meanwhile, the likes of Warrington Wolves, Leeds Rhinos and St Helens remain firm contenders for the crown, while Catalans Dragons have shown that they are more than capable of beating the best teams in Super League on their day. At the quarter-final stages, anything can happen and it would be foolish to dismiss any of the remaining teams in the competition. With the exception of Leigh Centurions, who have won 14 of their 15 Championship league matches this season, all of the quarter-finalists are Super League clubs and have beaten each other on various occasions – so this year’s tournament really is up for grabs. That is not to say that Leigh should be ruled out, however, and, at the time of writing, betfair are pricing Leigh at a hefty 40/1 to lift the trophy at the end of August. However, it is likely that Warrington Wolves – Leigh’s opponents in the last-eight – will be looking to spoil the party as they hunt a fourth Challenge Cup title since 2009. Read the rest of this entry →

The Ultimate Guide To Preparing Your Son For His First Rugby Game 2

Posted on May 08, 2015 by John Harris
Rugby is growing in youth popularity.

Rugby is growing in youth popularity.

If you have a son who has shown an interest in playing the English game of rugby instead of American football, you should try to encourage them in any way you can. It’s hard enough to get kids interested in playing sports these days, and so it’s vital that you support them. However, there are a number of things you want to do before they play their first game. We’ve created a checklist you can use to ensure you have all the bases covered. So long as you can tick everything off our list, your son should be more than ready to head out on the field.

Make sure they know the rules
Growing up in the US means that your children probably haven’t had maximum exposure to the game of rugby. However, there is a professional league in this country, and so you should spend some time watching games with them. Doing so will help to guarantee they understand the rules properly. The night before they are due to play their first game, you should spend an hour or so going through everything with them to ensure there is no confusion.

Buy the best equipment
Rugby is considered one of the best sports to keep you fit and healthy. However, your son is going to need the right equipment if you want him to stay safe. Rugby players should always wear a cup, and it’s wise to put some headgear on too. You will find some really high-quality sweatbands available online that could help them to feel a little more comfortable on the field. The last thing you want is for them to miss an important catch because they are blinded by the sweat dripping from their forehead. They need the right tools for the job if you want them to enjoy the sport and build a passion for playing. Read the rest of this entry →

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    • Bulldog Turner: Two-Way Star
      November 12, 2017 | 8:52 am
      Bulldog Turner

      Bulldog Turner

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was a two-way star for the dominant Chicago Bears teams of the 1940s.

      Though Hardin-Simmons College in Abilene, Texas was not known as a football power, legendary head coach George Halas could find great players anywhere and chose Clyde “Bulldog” Turner with the seventh pick in the 1940 NFL Draft.

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