Rugby is growing in the United States thanks largely to the inclusion of sevens rugby at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
To get rugby’s most well-known and successful team on American soil is a coup for USA Rugby
Via nytimes.com WELLINGTON, New Zealand – It’s rare for the New Zealand All Blacks to slip under the radar anywhere, but they will find themselves in unfamiliar territory in Chicago this weekend. But in a country where the N.F.L. dominates, the average American won’t know much about the world’s most successful rugby team.
The All Blacks, the current world champions and world No.1, hope that will change by the time their sold-out test match with the USA Eagles kicks off Saturday at Soldier Field, the home of the Chicago Bears.
Rugby is growing in the United States thanks largely to the inclusion of sevens rugby (the shorter, faster, less complicated version of the game) at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, and the possibility of grabbing a medal has opened up funding for the sport.
The American team is one of the core teams in the HSBC World Sevens Series and finished 13th last season.
The top four teams at the end of this season, which began in Australia in October, will automatically qualify for the Rio Games.
To get rugby’s most well-known and successful team on American soil is a coup for USA Rugby, whose chief executive, Nigel Melville, has described the test as the “biggest game in U.S. rugby history.”
USA Rugby hopes the All Blacks’ presence will provide a major boost for the sport in America
The New Zealand Rugby Union also recognizes it as a big opportunity to promote its biggest brand – the All Blacks – and its sponsors to a new audience. But All Blacks Coach Steve Hansen said the test against the 18th-ranked Eagles is more than just a commercial opportunity and is part of the team’s preparations for next year’s Rugby World Cup in England and Wales.
Staying one step ahead of their competitors remains the big challenge for the All Blacks, who continue to be the most dominant team in world rugby.
They have an overall success rate of more than 76 percent, which makes them one of the most successful teams in any sport. The USA Eagles would probably need a few N.F.L.-caliber athletes to have any chance of defeating the All Blacks at Soldier Field, given the gulf in class between the two teams. But Hansen said American U.S. rugby is very likely to grow and that the Eagles are likely to improve on the back of rugby’s inclusion in the Olympics.
After the Chicago game, the All Blacks will play England, Scotland and Wales on… Read More>