Thu, May 15, 2014 - Page 19 News List

All Blacks set up Test date with minnows US Eagles

AFP, WELLINGTON

Rugby union world champions New Zealand on Tuesday announced they are to play minnows the US for only the fourth time in their history, on Nov. 1.

The All Blacks, who share the same sponsor as the Eagles, are to play the US in the historic home of the Chicago Bears NFL franchise, the 61,000 capacity Soldier Field Stadium.

This will mark the first match between the two sides on US soil since 1980 and just the third official Test in front of what is expected to be a record crowd for a rugby match in the US.

“We are very excited to be taking the All Blacks to a part of the world we know is incredibly keen on all sports and where we believe there is a real thirst to see the style of rugby we are famous for,” said New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew, whose side will play there on their way to their tour of Europe.

His US counterpart, former England scrumhalf Nigel Melville, was equally effusive over the Test, which will be screened live by US broadcaster NBC.

“Rugby is growing rapidly in America and to have the best team in the world and wonderful ambassadors for the game playing on our home soil for the first time in 34 years will be great for the game here,” Melville said.

New Zealand last took on the US at the 1991 Rugby World Cup in England and also played an exhibition match in San Diego, California, in 1980.

The teams also played each other 101 years ago in Berkeley, California.

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw said he hoped by playing there they could help increase interest in the game and get more young people playing the sport.

“You look at the caliber of athletes you see playing basketball and NFL, and if they put some real energy into rugby, there would be a fairly big pool to choose from,” McCaw said. “A lot of people don’t know about the All Blacks in the US so it will be great to play a game there and show what rugby is all about.”

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