A Once-Elitist Sport Finds a New Demographic
The game just ain’t the same. Rugby, once just an upper-class pastime throughout the former British Empire, is attracting a whole new crowd. Refugees from Italy to Ivory Coast — and even foster kids in the U.S. — have famously used rugby to lift themselves out of poverty and strife, and new programs are cropping up to support young players from backgrounds that challenge the old elitism. The sport’s shifting demographics are fundamentally altering its international image, increasing its reach and allowing it to tap into far larger talent pools.