A report in the Times claims that talks to play at least one Premiership match in the USA are at an advanced stage, with the possibility one game next season could be held there.
Initial talk was of London Irish exploiting the Irish communities in Boston or New York however Premiership Rugby Chief Executive Mark McCafferty has confirmed the arrangement would be more structured.
The issue lies in the cost to individual clubs which is believed to be in excess of £100,000 but despite this Saracens, Leicester and Bath have shown an initial interest although Tigers and Sarries have confirmed they would only attend as an away side to avoid the loss of home crowds.
Unfortunately this attitude displayed by some of The Premierships leading clubs smacks of short-termism as is so often the case in rugby. A Premiership game in the USA represents a huge opportunity for the game to make some serious ground in what is one of the most exciting markets in the game right now.
Rugby is currently the fastest growing sport in the USA right now and has a massive opportunity to make inroads into one of the most active and lucrative sporting nations in the world. What we need now though is for two Premiership clubs to take a gamble and commit to say one game per season over the next three years being played in the USA, much like the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars have in the UK.
We have already seen this tactic work in reverse as both the NFL and NBA have seen huge success in bringing games into the UK, whilst football’s (soccer) incursion into the USA has been hugely successful.
The timing seems ideal for an incursion into the USA given that the All Blacks are due to play a game there this June whilst the inclusion of sevens in the 2016 Olympics has caused a huge surge of interest in the country in addition to the breakthrough of Carlin Isles.
Given the success Saracens have had in a number of their recent marketing endeavours such their World Record breaking crowd at Wembley this season alongside their generous backing you would have thought they would be desperate to be involved in such an opportunity.
One of the biggest failings of Premiership rugby clubs has been a complete failure to expand outside of their immediate markets which are often already saturated with other sporting teams. I genuinely believe that the first side to commit to playing regular games in the US has a huge opportunity to expand their own fan base around the world whilst also peaking interest for other clubs.
Now it’s over the Premiership Rugby and it’s 12 member clubs…