Professional Rugby on ESPN+
I put some new folds in my brain today.
My family went to the mall and I stayed behind to write about Ukraine v Russia. But you know what's depressing? Writing about Ukraine v Russia.
So I turned on ESPN+ and I clicked on something with the simple description Peñarol v American Raptors. Surprise surprise, Rugby!
I like rugby,
So it was off to the magical internet to see what I was watching.
Who's Peñarol? A pro rugby team from Uruguay.
Who's the American Raptors? A pro rugby team from the United States.
What league are they in? The new Super Rugby Americas (SRA), which just started play last week.
How many teams are in the league? Seven.
What countries are represented in the league? Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, United States and Uruguay.
How many teams are from America? Just the Raptors.
Did I know there was a new pro rugby league in America? Nope
Where do the Raptors play? Glendale, Colorado.
Where the heck is that? It's apparently a home-rule municipality on the edge of Denver.
What's Glendale famous for? Infinity Park....
Which is? The first municipal owned, rugby-only stadium in the United States.
Is Denver a hotbed of rugby? Apparently so. Who knew?
Would I watch the Raptors play again? Probably. It was a high level of rugby, not like Australia or New Zealand mind you, but good rugby. My question while watching was the business model. Most "pro" rugby in America is technically "semi-pro." If ESPN is paying the Raptors real money, even if it's just a couple hundred thousand dollars, the SRA has a chance of surviving.
If ESPN is paying the Raptors in 'exposure,' the league will fold within 2 years. (Well, at least in America.) What do I mean? ESPN used to televise lacrosse games, but not pay lacrosse any money. Corporate lackeys use the code word exposure when the words 'zero money' sounds unsavory.
If the SRA's schedule is one home and away game for every team in the league, that means 6 trips to South America for the Raptors. Few new leagues can afford those travel expenses unless there's wealthy corporate sponsors or broadcast fees.
After the game recap just posted on a South American Newspaper, I'm not confident that we'll be talking about the SRA at this time next year.