USA Rugby captain Blaine Scully is one very focused individual.
Not content with leading the Eagles, he’s also a European Challenge Cup winner with Cardiff Blues and Chairman of the fledgling USA Players Association.
The winger spoke to us for the first episode of the Players’ Podcast, discussing the growth of Rugby in America, the challenges facing a minority sport in the States and his distaste for the term “Tier Two”.
He outlined his vision for the USA Players Association: “We’re very much in a start up phase. Rugby in the United States is professionalising in a lot of different ways and it’s something we’ve talked about for a long time, having a players association to represent the players and speak for the players, from the players. That’s always been our objective; how can we maximise the player experience, how can we support the players on and off the field now that rugby has moved into a full time daily training environment.”
The Sacramento native, who came to Rugby later than most professionals, is clear about how future starts of the game in American can be brought through the ranks: “I think Rugby is a unique game and there is so much value that Rugby can provide to kids in the United States and for us I think it’s giving that young athlete the opportunity to make a decision that they want to be a player and providing meaningful growth and competition opportunity along the way, while providing an aspirational model where it’s like “ I want to be like that some day.”
He added: “Rugby in the Olympics and in Olympic inclusion was really a big thing for us, because it validated the game on a lot of different levels. The Sevens team has had some success, winning a couple of tournaments. Winning global competitions – the women have been competitive and we recently had a victory over Scotland, which is a real positive development for us… so I think there is an opportunity in the United States, whether that’s competing on the same level with the NFL and the NBA…we’ll see.
The USA, like many other teams than don’t frequent the Top 10 in the World Rankings, are often referred to as “Tier 2 nations” – but it’s not something Scully likes to hear.
“It’s something that I choose not to accept… I don’t buy into the Tier 1/Tier 2 classification really because there’s nothing about my teammates or my attitude that’s second class.
“We pride ourselves on being as professional as we can be and competing as hard as we can no matter what competition we’re in. So for us we think and we feel we can compete on any given day with anybody.”
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