Rugby Crossover Program Aims to Improve U.S. International Reputation

Rugby has never been a popular sport in the United States of America. This is proven by the fact that the U.S. has never done well in any significant international competition. Since 1987, the men’s national rugby union team has qualified for eight World Cups but has never managed to progress beyond the pool stage.

U.S. loose forward Danny Barrett during an international game in 2018

The only success on the international stage worth mentioning goes back to the 1920s. From 1900 to 1924, rugby was part of the Olympic program, and the American team won the last two editions.

The U.S. Wants to Become a Rugby Powerhouse

Colorado XO is looking to change this negative series and improve the United States’ reputation in the world of rugby. They have started a crossover program that aims to train top-notch athletes from other sports and convert them into proper rugby players.

The crossover group includes players such as Gelen Robinson, a defensive tackle from Purdue University turned hooker, Casey McDermott Vai who had a short stint with the Seattle Seahawks now playing 8-man, and former NFL player Taniela Tupou, who is leading the pack at prop.

Casey McDermott Vai training to become a rugby player through the Colorado XO crossover program

The player development program is being held in the City of Glendale, Colorado, and is led by Mark Bullock, the director of rugby for the city. The goal is to teach these athletes the sport in order to increase the country’s talent pool and hopefully win a World Cup someday.

Second Chances Are a Rarity in Professional Sports

For many athletes, the Colorado XO crossover program is an opportunity to learn a new sport and represent the United States in international play. It’s also a chance for them to forge a pathway back to professional athletics.

The U.S. men’s national rugby union team singing the national anthem before an international game
XO’s crossover program is part of a larger six-year plan to improve U.S. rugby potential and make it an all-American game that is respected across the world.