Sports fans all over the country know that college sports are an important part of America's athletic landscape. During the fall, millions of fans tune into college football. During the winter, men's and women's basketball teams play several thrilling games each week. One popular college sport that doesn't get as much attention is rugby. Colleges don't have varsity rugby programs, but just about all of them have competitive club and intramural teams for both men and women.
What Is Rugby?: Similar to football, rugby is a game that demands a tremendous amount of practice, teamwork and enthusiasm. Players run with the ball and pass it to their teammates, attempting to reach the other team's goal area. One of the biggest differences between rugby and football is that players can't pass the ball forward; instead they pitch it back to their teammates. The pace of play is more constant than football, with no short break after each play. If a player successfully grounds the ball in the goal area, it is called a "try", worth five points. Just like football, a successful try is followed by a conversion kick, which is worth two points. Players can also kick a "drop goal," which is similar to a field goal in football.
Worldwide Game: While rugby may not be as popular as football, basketball or baseball in America, it is one of the most popular games in the world. It is played in over 100 countries, on every continent. The United States actually used to be a rugby powerhouse, with the men's national team winning world championships in 1920 and 1924. Since then, however, the sport's popularity in America fell while it grew in other countries. Now, though, rugby is seeing somewhat of a renewal in the United States. Many high schools are now fielding teams and it continues to grow as a college sport.
Championships: Each year, men's and women's college rugby teams compete for national championships. California has been the most successful men's team, winning 12 national titles since 1997. Penn State and Stanford have been the best women's teams, splitting the last six titles. College rugby isn't governed by the NCAA like most other college sports. Instead, it is organized by USA Rugby and the International Rugby Board. Regardless, rugby players work just as hard as any other college athletes to succeed in their sport. They give it their all every time out, in a sport that requires strong athletic ability and dedication.
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