Rugby Union

All Blacks to face US Eagles at Soldier Field

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The game, which will take place outside the IRB (International Rugby Board) window, is scheduled one week before the All Blacks embark on their European tour against England at Twickenham.

USA rugby chief executive, Nigel Melville, told the Guardian: “This is more than just a game between the two teams. It’s an opportunity for us to showcase the world champions in our sport, in our domestic market.”

The strength of the Eagles side is yet to be confirmed, as worries over player release remains a key issue. In December, Northampton Saints were fined £60,000 by Premiership Rugby following the release of Welsh talisman George North, which allowed the winger to play against Australia in an extra Test that fell outside the specified window.

US-based company AIG, which sponsor the reigning World champions, hope to come to some sort of agreement which would allow European-based stars such as Northampton’s Samu Manoa and Leicester wing Blaine Scully to feature.

Last November, a weakened Eagles side lost 29-19 to the Moari All Blacks in front of a packed PPL Park in Philadelphia. Melville added: “I think the sports-mad Chicago community are going to want to go. It's an iconic stadium, a beautiful stadium and I think the local people will embrace the game and get behind it.

“Could we sell it out? That would be fantastic, but we hope to set a record crowd for rugby in North America and we'll see what comes with that.”

The All Blacks sit top of the IRB rankings, having won each of their 14 international matches in 2013. America, by contrast, are ranked 18th in the world, bottom of the secured tier nations, but have secured a place a the 2015 World Cup following a 32-13 victory over Uruguay in March.

The two sides have met three times before, with the last fixture taking place at the 1991 RWC in Gloucester, where the Kiwis claimed a comprehensive 46-6 victory.

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Topics:
Rugby Union
New Zeland Rugby

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