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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Saracens, Crusaders To Play In New Orleans


You can definitely call 2015 the Summer of Rugby in America. Not only will the U.S. be playing Australia in Chicago and the Harlequins in Philadelphia in addition to their Pacific Nations Cup matches on the West Coast, but now word has come down that Saracens and the Crusaders will be facing off in the New Orleans Superdome on August 1st.

The match is being organized by RugbyLaw, the folks behind the NRFL, but apparently has the sign off from U.S.A. Rugby, the RFU, and the NZRU. Like in many high-profile international soccer friendlies the turf will be World Rugby approved. With both Saracens and the Crusaders missing their top players to World Cup duty with England and New Zealand respectively this match will almost certainly feature players for each wider training group.

Take the jump to read more.
In a press release Crusaders CEO Hamish Riach said “The Crusaders are thrilled to be sending a team to New Orleans to play Saracens. This is an exciting opportunity for us, firstly to play in an amazing international venue like the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans, and secondly to play a team like Saracens who we would never usually get the opportunity to play. Saracens and the Crusaders are two teams from opposite ends of the globe, but with similarly proud histories. It is not often that non-international teams from the southern and northern hemispheres have the chance to pit themselves against each other, and we are honored to be involved in this inaugural hemispheres clash. I have no doubt that this will be an incredible spectacle and a historic occasion.”

His counterpart, Saracens Director of Rugby Mark McCall said “It’s a privilege to be able to play against one of the best teams in the world in a fantastic city and to be able to give the people of New Orleans a chance to experience professional rugby. The City of New Orleans is famed for its welcome, vibrancy, history and culture and we are looking forward to being part of what will be a very special occasion. The Superdome is recognized all over the world and our players are already excited about playing at the home of the New Orleans Saints and in front of a City that loves its sport. The Crusaders are one of the most successful sides in world rugby and as we very rarely get the chance to face teams from the Southern Hemisphere. We can’t wait to test ourselves in what will be a very hard-fought contest.”

If the match comes off then it will be a huge opportunity for fans to see two of the world's top teams. It will also certainly draw that attention of the world to the match. At the same time, it comes two days after Pacific Nations Cup matches in Toronto and two days before the PNC final in Vancouver potentially limiting fans. 

4 comments:

  1. Very interesting … one wonders if RugbyLaw and USA Rugby may be having relationships that are warming?

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  2. So many choices this summer! Love it.

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  3. Ummm Curtis Are that many US rugby fans really going to head to Toronto and Vancouver making it an issue for this game? I seriously doubt it. Afterall there's going to be a large amount of US action within the US anyway whether you're on the West or East coast.

    I think the bigger issues for this game are 1) there are other games Wallabies, Harlequins, PNC games in the US, Leicester v NRFL XV, even the NACRA Olympic 7s qualifier event that involve US teams that the average US rugby fan has a choice of and in comparison this game doesn't involve any US content and 2) neither team will feature its best players.

    This is going to be one heck of a challenge for Rugby Law because with all the other international rugby happening this summer in the US (and let's face it, your average joe US rugby fan given the choice is going to save his money for Chicago or Philly etc) I think they are going to have to really sell the game to the locals to even get a semblance of a decent crowd. And there won't be many travelling fans either. With both teams not featuring their best lineups I'm wondering if this should've maybe been scheduled for the MLS stadium in Houston that's done pretty well with international rugby crowds. I think it's a great idea but with what's already on in a RWC year maybe this could've waited a year and been organised so that the best players of each team could be involved which would at least help sell the game to US rugby fans, especially if there were fewer competing events next year.

    Also in the wake of the Eagles v Wallabies game confirmation, SANZARA should actually make a plan with USA, Canada and Japan to play them every year, much like what used to happen with Italy in the mid 90s before they became a part of the 6N. So basically every year Japan, US and Canada get a game from one of NZ, Aussie, South Africa and Argentina on rotation.

    I'd also like to say the British & Irish Lions will be absolutely insane if they do not play a game in the US on the way over to NZ in 2017. With the number of expats in the US (far, far more than Kiwis or Aussies) and the number of Lions fans that will be accompanying the team, and the fact that if this game was on the East Coast it will be a comparatively short flight from the UK so probably would attract a good number of Brit rugby fans who wouldn't go the rest of the tour, this game is a no brainer, and quite possibly would be a bigger success, and earn more general publicity in the US general media and with the general US public than the ABs game due to the whole US v UK history thing (whereas NZ probably doesn't even register with many average joe Americans), and probably due to the number of visiting team fans would need a bigger stadium than Soldier Field IMHO. I can see a game at MetLife in NYC even selling out and that place is 82.5K compared to Soldier Field's 61K. There's also already an existing example of the US v UK/Europe type idea in the Ryder Cup. Infact when the US does get its act together in XVs I can see an annual Ryder Cup type match or even series being an attractive idea on both sides of the Atlantic. And BTW if such a game does come true and is in NYC, well being probably the biggest tourist destination in the states, that would also draw UK and Irish fans and also US fans from other parts of the country. A weekend or few days in NYC would appeal to many fans of both teams I'm sure (even though the ABs game was in Chicago I made it a mission of mine to visit the big apple afterwards, and attended a Giants game at Metlife)

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  4. Average attendance in Premiership is about 14k. It is 21k in Super XV. I'm sure both of these teams are drooling of the possibility of selling out the 76k seat Superdome. Selling 20k tickets to the Superdome event would be a big achievement for rugby in the US but the Superdome will look very empty. Average MLS attendance is 18k and MLS stadiums are better suited for these events and can help keep ticket prices reasonable. Hopefully foreign pro team will make regular appearances in the US like the NFL is doing with games abroad.

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