USA Rugby Eagles 1920-2020
Although the USA’s representative body is young, USA Rugby’s Eagles have made themselves a major name in rugby with wins over teams like New Zealand’s All Blacks Sevens (2015) and Sevens rankings as high as #2 in the world (2019). USA Rugby has grown the sport tremendously, garnering over 100,000 members nationwide and establishing youth programs to develop the next generation of players. In recent years, the Eagles have shown through rankings, winning streaks, and appearances in cup finals that USA Rugby is a force to be reckoned with on the pitch.
1920s - It is a little known fact but a sign of the high sporting pedigree of the United States that the USA Olympic Team, arguably the first USA Rugby Team, won gold at both the 1920 Antwerp Olympics and 1924 Paris games. The 1924 USA Rugby squad was only expected to provide "token opposition" and greatly surprised France who was picked to win the gold. Click here to see video footage of the 1924 Olympic Gold Medal Match against France. This was the last Summer Olympic Rugby competition until 2016 when Rugby Sevens was introduced.
1975 - the United States of America Rugby Football Union (now just USA Rugby) is formed in Chicago in response to growing national interest in the sport. The USA needs a governing body for rugby and a way to represent the nation at the international rugby level, thus USA Rugby is born.
1976 - the United States national rugby union team takes the field for the first time, unfortunately losing to the Wallabies 24-12.
1985 - the first USA Rugby women’s team tours in Europe. They finish undefeated, and the New York Times writes an article about the tour.
1987 - USA Rugby joins the International Rugby Board, reflecting the USA’s newly earned powerful name in international rugby. This same year, the first women’s Eagles camp takes place to form the first American women’s national team and the men’s Eagles compete in the first Rugby World Cup.
1990 - the first Women’s National Team travels to New Zealand to compete in the Women’s World Rugby Festival. They leave with a 3-1 record, losing only to New Zealand.
1991 - USA Women win the inaugural Women’s World Cup, beating England 19-6 in the final. In the same year, Donald Reordan becomes the first American referee to judge a World Cup match.
1994 - USA Women once again dominate the pitch, earning second place in the second ever Women’s Rugby World Cup.1998 - The women once again take second place in the third Women’s Rugby World Cup, which was the first women’s world cup officially sanctioned by the International Rugby Board.
1998 also sees the birth of World Rugby Shop which quickly becomes the US's leading rugby equipment and apparel store.
2000 - USA Rugby celebrates its 25th birthday.
2004 - The United States hosts its first International Rugby Board-sanctioned event. The first IRB Sevens World Series takes place at the Home Depot Center (now StubHub Center) in Carson, California.
2006 - USA Rugby’s youth department holds the first youth development conference in Nashville, Tennessee. This same year, Nigel Melville becomes CEO of USA Rugby.
2007 - USA Rugby player Takudzwa “Zee” Ngwenya is awarded Try of the Rugby World Cup.2009 - The USA Rugby Youth Department launches the Rookie Rugby Program.
2010- The men’s sevens team ranks 10th in the world at the IRB Sevens World Series, their highest ranking ever. This same year, USA Rugby is approved as an Olympic sport member of the United States Olympic Committee.
2011- USA Rugby reaches a landmark 100,000 members nationwide. This same year, USA Rugby hosts the first ever College Sevens National Championship tournament.
2012 - The second stop of the inaugural Women’s Sevens World Series takes place in Houston, Texas. This same year, the USA Rugby Junior All-American team beats Japan 37-33 to win the Junior World Rugby trophy. Also in 2012, USA Rugby gold medal teams of 1920 and 1924 are inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame, USA Rugby launches a new Coach Development Program, the men win their first test series in over a decade, and the women win the first IRB Sevens shield.
2013- The Eagles boast their record domestic turnout, with over 20,000 in attendance at a home match against Ireland. Also in 2013, the Women’s Eagle Sevens take third place in the World Cup.
2015 - The men’s team wins their first ever Cup Final in a Sevens World Series. This same year, both the men’s and women’s 7s teams medal in the Toronto Pan-American Games and the men’s sevens team achieves its historic first win over the All Blacks.
2016 -Both the men’s and women’s sevens teams participate in the Rio Olympics.
2017 - The men finish 5th in the Sevens World Series, their highest ranking ever. Also in 2017, Perry Baker is awarded the title of World Rugby Men’s Sevens Player of the Year.
2018 - The Men's Eagles win their second consecutive ARC Championship and their first ARC Grand Slam, going undefeated in all five matches of the Americas Rugby Championship. The Men's Sevens team wins its first ever USA Sevens Cup and second overall cup title. In their 2018 season, the Men’s Eagles achieve nine consecutive test match victories with a final record of 10-2. Perry Baker wins World Rugby Men’s Sevens Player of the Year for the second year in a row.
2019 - The Men’s Sevens appear in five consecutive Cup Finals, winning four silver and one gold, an unprecedented record for USA Rugby.
2019 - USA Men's Sevens ranks number 2 in the 2019 series standings after a performance consisting of five consecutive cup finals, four silver medals, one gold medal, and appearances in semi-finals at every tournament. The Women’s Sevens also ranks number 2 in the world in 2019 with one gold, one silver, three bronze, and one fourth place finish.
USA Rugby now has over 130,000 members (including 32,000 college rugby members) and oversees 1,200 high school teams, 900 college teams, 700 senior club teams, and 400 youth teams.