The All Blacks will play a test match against the USA Eagles on November 2nd 2014 at Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears.
Two questions spring to mind:
Is USA ready for rugby?
Should the All Blacks be playing in the USA before playing in the Pacific Islands?
This test match will be the first time the All Blacks have played in the USA since 1980 and only the fourth times the two teams have met with the last match being at the Rugby World Cup in 1991.
USA is a huge market for rugby to try to penetrate and it seems now that rugby is at the Olympic Games, that the USA is an untapped resource. We have seen former sprinter Carlin Isles on the IRB World Sevens circuit and hopefully bring the All Blacks to USA will help boost the profile of the sport and the calibre of players.
Rugby is mainly popular in colleges and so it would be great to get wider support in the USA. Utilising Americans from other sports like American Football and basketball could help USA become competitive and rugby has plenty to offer since it is a professional sport offering the opportunities to attend the Olympic Games. Sure, you would earn more in the NBA or NFL, but rugby can still offer decent money, especially for top level international players in Europe and Japan.
The global brand of the All Blacks is becoming massive, while having insurance company AIG on the front of the All Blacks also makes America a tempting market since it is an American company.
The standard of American rugby commentators on ESPN will have to improve. I was watching the Maori All Blacks beat the USA Eagles in the USA and the commentators were so biased, it was ridiculous, especially given the fact that the home team lost.
It will be interesting to see which players take the field for the All Blacks. It will probably be a largely experimental combination since the USA Eagles struggled to beat the Maori All Blacks who are pretty much a third string New Zealand team. For this game to be a success the match needs to be relatively close, but at the same time the All Blacks have a reputation to uphold and must take no prisoners. This means it could be a very one sided match. I wonder if the All Blacks will take any orders to not win by too much? If people see the home team getting a thrashing then it could put them off!
What do you think of the All Blacks playing a test in the USA against the USA Eagles when they still refuse to play in the Pacific Islands? Obviously money talks and they will get plenty of money out of it much like when they played in Hong Kong and Japan.
Do you think the USA Eagles and American sports market is ready for rugby and the All Blacks playing in the USA?
Read my article here on if rugby can get a foothold in the American sports market?