- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Rugby in America is a rare and exciting athletic spectacle, a contact sport played without pads or helmets, often with bigger hits than football. The level of athletic intensity, physical fitness and mental courage required to play rugby is considerable.

On Aug. 9, 2008, the United States National Rugby Team played its first-ever match on South Carolina soil against ASM-France at Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston, S.C. On July 4, 2009, the U.S. Eagles defeated Canada in Charleston, another first for USA Rugby in South Carolina. The patriotism inside the stadium that evening was incredible.

On Aug. 17, USA Rugby returns to Charleston for a must-win Rugby World Cup qualifier against Canada — a Saturday night under the lights. Our USA Rugby players deserve support and respect throughout our nation’s capital on Aug. 17.

Although rugby is a grass-roots, nonprofit effort here in the United States, interesting developments in the sport have evolved in the past 50 years. The sport’s economic results and international diversity of guests has reached a critical mass. Young men are playing more rugby more seriously, growing U.S. clubs and bringing large rugby tournaments to the United States. High school rugby has especially flourished in our nations’ suburbs.

The ultimate goal in rugby is to receive the call to play for your country. In fact, many Navy SEALs, Army Green Berets and other military officers have played rugby at the highest levels in America. What most people don’t know is that our national rugby players only earn $100 per day during match weeks. Our rugby national teams work so hard for America, working their way up club rankings and ultimately sacrificing their bodies for pennies in order to win in a USA jersey.

If you’ve never seen rugby before, it’s one of the most fascinating sports to watch live, especially as a group or company. Cheering on America is always an extra bonus.

BARON CHRISTOPHER HANSON

Charleston, S.C.