If Brits thought the NFL going to London was sometimes hard to understand, how about the UK’s second-most popular sport coming to the New York area for a regular season match? That’s what will happen on March 12, when the Aviva Premier League will have a match between two of their biggest clubs, London Irish and Saracens, take place at Red Bull Arena.
While rugby has been growing at the grassroots level in the States and has seen some successful events staged for the Sevens game (which will be at Olympic sport next summer in Rio), the traditional fifteens game has yet to get a professional look, and bringing a regular season match, vs. a “friendly” which is done in soccer, could be an interesting test to see where the sport is going. New York-based The Legacy Agency, which promoted the successful match between the USA and The new Zealand All Blacks last year before a sold out crowd at Chicago’s Soldier Field, will be handling the promotion for this match with other partners as well.
The timing of the match, just before St. Patrick’s Day, could also add to the interest as well, and with rugby coming off this weekend’s World Cup Finals in the UK, interest appears to be growing for the Premiership to take this interesting next step.
“This is a significant day in the history of Premiership Rugby and one that has taken a number of years and a lot of hard work to bring to fruition. Premiership Rugby is the most competitive league in world rugby with a fast-growing following outside England and we are delighted to stage a competitive match in the USA. There are ambitious plans to grow the game in the States and this is the latest stage in that strategy. I’d like to thank both London Irish for their support and vision in making this bold step as well as Saracens and our partners The Legacy Agency Inc and USA Rugby. We firmly believe this will be a great success and will showcase live Aviva Premiership Rugby to a new audience,” added Mark McCafferty, Premiership Rugby’s Chief Executive in a statement released Tuesday.
London Irish boasts one of the largest global followings of any rugby club in the UK. Established in 1898, London Irish became a founding member of Aviva Premiership Rugby in 1996 and have played in England’s top division ever since. They finished as runners-up in 2008-09. Their opponent, Saracens, was founded in 1876, and is one of the longest-running sports clubs in the world. An original member of Premiership Rugby, they have won the title in 2010-11 and 2014-15 and are the current holders of the LV=Cup.
Tickets go on sale Friday, October 30th at 10 am EST.