I’m Benson Hendrix, a former rugby player and current PR professional and blogger here in Albuquerque, New Mexico
Why care? Well, why not? I love rugby, have written about it before, have my own opinions and can be full of snark when I need to be!
What got you started with rugby?
I stumbled across rugby when I was in college, as so many rugby players in the U.S. do. I had been a wannabe athlete in high school, but I was not popular enough, or athletic enough, or (and I loved this one) had the right family to be part of the “team.” In the summer between my first and second year of college I dove into working out, and spent essentially the entire summer lifting weights. When I returned to college that fall I bumped into a friend of mine in the weight room and he was surprised at how much I had changed and encouraged me to walk out for the rugby team that fall.
Unlike when I tried out for football or soccer in high school, the guys on the rugby team were very friendly and were happy to have another victim on the pitch. And the more I got involved in rugby the more I loved it.
If it’s so important, then why aren’t you playing anymore?
Well, while the spirit is always so very willing, the flesh has been weak. Two torn knees and a tweaked shoulder and neck have moved me off of the pitch and onto the sidelines.
What are a couple of your most memorable rugby moments?
While they are starting to slip from my mind with time, many memories of visiting Wales with one of my college rugby teams are still with me – whether it’s watching Wales-Scotland live in London (because Millennium Stadium in Cardiff was being upgraded for the 1999 Rugby World Cup) or visiting where the original version of “The Prisoner” was recorded, or getting to play in one match in Pwllheli, Wales (like I said, I wasn’t the best athlete out there).
Is Rugby ever going to be anywhere as important in the United States as it is in the rest of the world?
Probably not. The USA Rugby Powers That Be (mostly cloistered in the Northeast and in Northern California, mired in an elitist “schoolboy” mentality) have let the game slip for far too long because of their parochial attitude about keeping the game exclusive and since the 1920’s other sports such as American Football, basketball, baseball and even soccer have taken prominence in the American mindset. Rugby has been relegated so far back it’s competing with Cricket and Full-Contact Tiddly-Winks for mindshare.
And at this point it might become a second tier sport, but it won’t progress more than that.
In fact, I wonder if the USA Rugby Powers That Be enjoy the limited knowledge and success of rugby in the U.S. – it allows them to remain, more or less, Dukes of the small fiefdom. Should rugby ever expand they would have to pay attention to people in “The Hinterlands” – people who obviously don’t know nearly as much about rugby as the chosen few do.
Very few people know that the U.S. are the current back-to-back Olympic Gold Medal holders in rugby – granted it was in 1920 and ‘24 I believe, but still that’s something that should come up from time to time as we get closer to rugby’s reinclusion in the Olympic Games in 2016.
So what’s this about the 2011 Rugby World Cup?
It’s my goal for the next year. I’d love to go cover the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
Eventually I’d like to write about rugby full time here on the Rugby Super Site. Covering rugby was a passion of mine when I was working at the local newspaper, and I’m still kicking myself for having the opportunity to write for the Daily News, Wales’ Largest Paper, when I was on rugby tour in Wales and not ensuring that it happened. (The person trying to make it happen and I didn’t meet up in time to make it work. Ian if you’re reading this, I’m still interested!)
The great thing about the Internet is that I can now cover rugby from anywhere there’s a cell signal. In fact, a couple of posts on here came about when I was in Little Rock to speak at a PR Luncheon.
Anyway, back to the plan – I’m looking for either media sponsors (I’m lookin’ at you here Mark Cuban (@mcuban on Twitter) and HD Net, or any other interested mrdia outlets out there) to hire me as their rugby freelancer – I can create blog or Audio/Video content (both of which I’ve worked on in my PR work) for any site.
Plus, one of the great things about the 2011 RWC in New Zealand is that one of my peeps lives in Wellington and has said I can crash at his place during the event, which will reduce costs. Anyway, you can see the media proposal soon.
And I’m always looking for equipment sponsors to help me with computers, video and audio equipment, etc in exchange for advertising in my upcoming rugby AV work to help it look more professional. (*cough* like Sony Electronics *cough*) (Yes, I admit it, I’m shameless when I’m looking for equipment)
So how do we, God forbid, contact you should we want to?
Glad you asked that! You can find me at benson (at) rugbysupersite (dot) com. Or leave a comment on any of the stories here on the site, I’m looking forward to hearing from you!