One of my favorite things about reading romance is having the opportunity to learn new things in a fun way, instead of through textbooks or strenuous study. Through romance novels, I’ve learned about historical events, places I’ve never visited, and sports I’ve never watched.
That’s why I’m always so thrilled when readers contact me to say that reading my London Legends series sparked an interest in rugby. Several readers have told me they watched a rugby match after reading one of my books, and that’s just about the biggest compliment I could get!
As I was writing the latest book in the series, Taming the Legend, I learned some fun facts about rugby that worked their way into the story, which (I hope!) makes it a fun way to learn about the sport, even for readers who know nothing about it.
Move over, football! Rugby is on the rise in the U.S., and it’s largely down to a fun, fast-paced form of the sport called Rugby Sevens. In Taming the Legend, the hero, Ash Trenton, retires as a rugby player and goes to California to coach a Rugby Sevens team. When he arrives, he discovers they aren’t quite the team he was expecting.
There are Sevens tournaments all over the world, and they tend to be like festivals. The U.S.A. Sevens are held in Las Vegas every February. Hands up—how many of you have gone to a Sevens tournament? I haven’t, sadly, but I would love to one day!
That’s right—the last time rugby was an Olympic sport, the U.S.A. won gold. That was 1924, so quite a while ago. After that, football gained more and more popularity as generations of Americans embraced a more American identity at the expense of a sport that was seen as English and colonial.
For the first time since 1924, rugby will be an Olympic sport—for men and women. This time, it’ll be Rugby Sevens. The fact it’s going to be at the Olympics has helped the sport gain even more popularity in the U.S. So get your flags ready to cheer on your national team! Who will you be rooting for?
If you don’t know much about Rugby Sevens, you can prepare for the Olympics by watching this video.
The Women’s Rugby World Cup was played in August 2014, when I was writing Taming the Legend, and England beat Canada in the final. While women’s rugby doesn’t get nearly the attention men’s rugby does, its profile is growing—especially considering no one even knows when women started playing rugby because playing contact sports was so taboo for women in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Two of the women on England’s World Cup-winning team were given honors (MBEs) by the Queen in her New Year’s Honours List this January. That’s a great achievement and recognition for women’s sports—especially since the women weren’t getting paid to train or to play. However, when England’s men won the World Cup in 2003, THE WHOLE TEAM was given MBEs (as well as being paid). Personally, I find it shocking that the women’s team didn’t get the same honor.
The academy system helps teams nurture young talent, but the people involved in academies know that most of the teenagers they’re training will never go pro or, if they do, will have quite a short career. That’s why they require young people to get other qualifications, such as certificates in coaching or business or anything else they might be able to fall back on.
That’s it! I hope you enjoyed these rugby facts.
Did you know any of these facts already? Did any of them surprise you?
Book four of the London Legends
When retiring rugby star Ash Trenton considered his next career move, coaching troubled teens at his ex-girlfriend’s California camp wasn’t on the list. But when Camila Morales reappears after eighteen years, begging for his help, he can’t say no to his first and only love.
Camila was just sixteen when Ash moved on to start his rugby career, leaving her heartbroken…and on her own to make a life-changing decision. Now she needs his help to win a tournament prize and save her camp. Relying on Ash is the last thing she wants. But while it’s hard to get over being dumped for a sport, it’s even harder to ignore the rush of attraction that has only gotten stronger after so many years apart.
Coaching teens is the hardest job Ash has ever had, and the task becomes personal when he begins to fall for Camila all over again. But when he is offered his dream job, will he choose the job—or the woman whose heart he already sacrificed once?
Kat Latham is a California girl who moved to Europe the day after graduating from UCLA, ditching her tank tops for raincoats. She taught English in Prague and worked as an editor in London before she and her British husband moved to the Netherlands. Kat’s other career involves writing and editing for charities, and she’s traveled to Kenya, Ethiopia and India to meet heroic people helping their communities survive disasters. She would love to hear from you!