Personally serving myself in the United States Army, attending a military college, and playing rugby alongside many veterans and current military service members, this article may seem a bit bias.
However, I think there is a connection between soldiers and the rugby field.
Maybe it’s the fact that rugby is 80 minutes of pure hell, and it can take your mind off of the past for even a moment.
Maybe it’s even the camaraderie that’s formed during countless matches of getting beat to a pulp.
Whatever it is, the fact remains that rugby has become a safe haven for soldiers. And they’ve dominated ever since the two went tandem. And this definitely isn’t unique to the United States…
Just take a look at one of the most famous traditions in rugby, the Haka for instance. Sure it’s not American, but the Haka was an old war cry stemming from the Maori people of New Zealand. Now practiced by the All Blacks before every game.
In Great Britain, 80,000 people sold out the Royal Army vs Navy game in Twickenham. This is a huge event that seems more like a reunion than anything else to the thousands of veterans watching.
In America, the Armed Forces Rugby teams play at high levels, competing with the best of the best. In 2015, West Point held the number 5 position in D1 college rugby throughout much of the season.
All around the world, soldiers line up on and off the field to watch and play one of the toughest sports on the planet.
The culture of rugby is undoubtedly known for it’s excessive drinking, rough crowds, and no holds barred atmosphere. Very similar to the one found in the military.
So what came first? the chicken? or the egg?
Did the Armed Forces have a roll in shaping what rugby is today around the world? or did veterans find a familiar hideout from a place they sometimes can’t relate to?
I don’t think it much matter. The fact will always remain that the two are married, happily married at that.