The IRB Rugby World Cup Champion New Zealand All Blacks will play their third match in history on USA soil Saturday, Nov. 1, at Soldier Field in Chicago against the Men’s Eagles, USA Rugby and New Zealand Rugby. A press conference held this morning had many people from the rugby world and the city of Chicago excited to announce the official details on this event.
The recent sold-out match between the Eagles, the United States’ National Senior Men’s rugby union team, and the New Zealand Maori All Blacks at PPL Park in Philadelphia, Pa., last November, helped seal this deal. USA Rugby Chief Executive Officer Nigel Melville said
...the strong sports history in Chicago is why this city was chosen. USA Rugby wanted a passionate American crowd with a supportive city. Solider is a fantastic and iconic stadium that can support the crowd, and a field that has the extra length needed to facilitate a rugby game.
Solider Field is able to hold over 65,000 fans and USA Rugby is hoping to draw a crowd of at least 45,00. USA Rugby and New Zealand Rugby Official Sponsor American International Group, Inc. (NYSE: AIG) will again unite the two nations as title sponsor of the game. The game will aslo be covered by NBC for national broadcast coverage.
The game will also be promoted though out the Chicago Park District as, Michael Kelly, the General Superintendednt & CEO of the Chicago Park District, whose brother played with the South Side Irish told me, told me
It's a great sport promoting team work. This will also highlight what an asset the parks are to the city of Chicago. It's a little know secret [to many Chicagoans] but rugby is played at a lot of parks in and on the outskirts of the city. We're hoping to bring a big tournament to the parks to help promote this event. The All Blacks are a world class program
David Hall from iYRA, Adrian Gannon from Midwest Rugby, and Lou Raymond from CARFU were all at the conference as well. They are helping plan events leading up to the game and to help spread news of it throughout the Chicago-area, midwest and nation. They were excited to hear that USA Rugby and AIG will be introducing the Rookie Rugby program to more than 200 local schools and community organizations in the greater Chicagoland area this year to spread the all-inclusive rugby culture. Rookie Rugby is USA Rugby’s non-contact, flag version of rugby aimed at teaching young athletes the game and the importance of teamwork and respect for opponents, coaches, and referees alike. The efforts to put this program into schools has been an on going on between a partnership with iYRA and World Sports Chicago.
The Eagles, the most recent qualifier for next year’s World Cup in England, will face the No. 1-ranked team in the world ahead of the All Blacks’ Air New Zealand European Tour in the following weeks. This game should help set up a standing on how this falls game may go.
The Eagles’ match against the All Blacks on NBC will be the first international rugby match to be broadcast on national network television since the IRB Rugby World Cup 2011. NBC will also broadcast next year’s World Cup in England. The match will be broadcast live from Chicago on NBC Saturday, Nov. 1, with kickoff scheduled for 2:30 P.M. CT. Tickets will be released to the general public June 16. Register for special pre-sale and preferred seating opportunities by June 1 on www.usavallblacks.com.
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