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Industry News

US adds international matches to rugby portfolio

Washington D.C.’s RFK Stadium will host an international rugby union match between Wales and South Africa later this year, while Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver has also been awarded hosting rights for the rugby league fixture between England and New Zealand.

Wales and South Africa will face off at RFK Stadium on June 2 in what will mark the first top-tier national team rugby match in the US capital. The match is being promoted by Rugby International Marketing, the commercial arm of the USA Rugby national governing body.

The match will be the first Test of Wales’ three-match June tour, with Warren Gatland’s side to also face off against Argentina in fixtures in San Juan and Santa Fe.

Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Martyn Phillips said: “The opportunity to expand the already great Welsh support base and Welsh brand is very exciting for us as especially in such a large demographic and audience as the US.

“We have long standing links with the US with our partner Under Armour and it is great we are able to stage a match just down the road from their main facility in Baltimore. We would like to thank RIM for staging and promoting the fixture and we are looking forward to kicking off the summer tour in Washington D.C.”

It will also mark the first time that South Africa has played against tier-one opposition on neutral ground in a non-World Cup match.

SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux said: “The match in Washington allows us to take Springbok rugby to America and to potentially expand the team’s appeal to very large audience. Our research shows that the Springboks have a growing worldwide fan base and we see the match in Washington as ideal platform to tap into a market that offers huge possibilities for South African rugby, in the exciting American sporting area.

“We are also grateful to the Wales Rugby Union for their efforts in making this match a reality and it will get a very challenging international season off to a great start.”

RFK Stadium has a capacity of 45,000 and formerly served as the home of NFL American football team the Washington Redskins and Major League Soccer franchise D.C. United.

Meanwhile, the US has made further strides towards raising the profile of both codes in the country after it was confirmed that the 76,000-seat Mile High Stadium (pictured), home of NFL team the Denver Broncos, will host an England-New Zealand league match on June 23.

The match, which is being promoted by Moore Sports International, will mark the first time in 18 years that England has played in the country since taking on the US in Orlando in 2000. The announcement has been made as North America prepares to host the 2025 Rugby League World Cup.

Ralph Rimmer, interim chief executive of the Rugby Football League, the governing body of the sport in England, said: “Moore Sports International is well aware of how innovative the sport is and offered an exciting opportunity to take our players and showcase their talents and our game to an important sporting market.”

New Zealand Rugby League chair Reon Edwards added: “Rugby league is making impressive strides in the United States and Canada. This Test match is an opportunity to showcase the highest level of our sport in the North American market, which has significant participation and commercial potential. NZRL has worked with the Rugby Football League and the Rugby League International Federation on this, agreeing to play a New Zealand-England Test in the United States each year for the next three years.”

Image: compujeramey