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Rugby match draws 61,500 to Soldier Field

They came from nearby North Lawndale and as far away as Oceania to witness a landmark rugby game Saturday at Soldier Field.

Both curious and committed fans crowded into the lakefront arena as New Zealand’s All Blacks — the world’s top team — opened a 43-6 first-half lead and beat the USA Eagles 74-6 on a crisp, sunny afternoon.

The All Blacks never trailed, but results were almost beside the point.

Saturday’s game celebrated both community and an emerging sport that returns to the Olympics in 2016 after a more than 90-year absence.

The sellout crowd of 61,500 was the largest to witness rugby in the United States, far eclipsing a 20,181 crowd at a 2013 U.S. game against Ireland in Houston.

Saturday’s game also cast a wide attendance net.

Fans displayed homes and affiliations ranging from New Zealand to Canada to dozens of widely scattered domestic club, college and high school programs.

Several fans were quick to mention both the game’s historic nature as well as the sport’s appeal.

“To see something like this is incredible,” said Bill Weckstein, a Naperville-based multisport official and a former rugby player. “I think the national team players are stunned — they sold out an NFL stadium.”

If you’ve ever seen the New Zealand All Blacks’ pre-game “haka,” you’d probably call it a war dance.

But it’s not. At least not technically.

Sure, the 15 rugby starters face their opponents, contort their faces into masks of anger, and strike their own thighs, forearms and chests with what can.

The 80-minute contest offered a touch of home for Grant Leersnyder, a New Zealand native now living in the United States.

“This is fun, we get our taste of (New Zealand) every couple of years,” said Leersnyder, an aircraft parts salesperson clad in All Blacks attire with a New Zealand flag serving as a cape. “It’s good to see the Eagles playing. The score isn’t probably going to be that interesting, but it’s going to be a fun game,”

Ryan Brooks, meanwhile, made the trek from Anchorage, Alaska, where he’s a recent convert to the sport.

“It’s an absolute battle,” he said. “Forty-minute halves, it doesn’t stop or stops very seldom. It’s not like stopping every 10 seconds like American football. It’s go, go, go, go. The level of fitness is huge.”

Chris Galloway, an eighth grader and rugby player from Kipp Ascend Middle School in North Lawndale, concurred while welcoming the chance to sample top-flight rugby.

“It’s tough, you’ve got to work hard … (but) you have fun with other players and get a chance to meet other people,” said Galloway, joined by teammates from Illinois’ lone African-American middle school rugby team and reigning Illinois champions.

Saturday’s game could help build more interest in the sport, which currently has more than 107,000 active players affiliated through USA Rugby, the sport’s governing body.

“Just getting this many eyes on it is good for our organization and to be able to grow the sport and bring it to more people,” said Drew Parker, youth development officer for Rugby Illinois. “Once they get exposed to the sport they tend to love it.”

All Blacks in Chicago for exhibition vs. USA Rugby

CHICAGO (AP) America’s history on rugby’s world stage can be summed up in two sentences.

Team USA took home the gold from both the 1920 and 1924 Olympics. And then, just like the Chicago Cubs, took the rest of the century off.

The timing couldn’t be much better for a rare stateside visit from New Zealand’s storied All Blacks, who face the USA’s Golden Eagles on Saturday at sold-out Soldier Field (capacity: 61,500). Even though it’s only an exhibition, the match will be televised nationally on NBC and provide a snapshot of where USA Rugby – after nearly a decade of investment and effort – stands on the road back to respectability.

The Golden Eagles have already qualified for the 2015 World Cup and hope to do the same for the 2016 Summer Olympics, where rugby (the seven-a-side version, instead of 15 players each) will return as a medal sport for the first time since the Americans won. Despite those and other accomplishments in recent years, especially by the U.S. women’s and youth teams, the key to enjoying Saturday’s match might be not to expect too much.

The All-Blacks are rugby’s 1927 Yankees, a dynasty that’s claimed two of the seven World Cups played and has been almost unbeatable (34 wins, 2 draws and 2 losses) since coach Steve Hansen took over in 2012. They’re fast, skilled, bruising, experienced, deep at every spot and led by captain Richie McCaw, the most capped New Zealander of all-time and the game’s only three-time international player of the year.

The team’s pre-game ”Haka,” a Maori rite that resembles a line-dance with bad intentions, could turn out to be the highlight of the afternoon. If nothing else, American audiences might appreciate a game with every player handling the ball, no TV timeouts, an occasional scrum instead of huddles after every play and – relatively – lower-level violence.

The only suspense after kickoff figures to be the margin of New Zealand’s win. That will be determined in large part by how many of the squad’s senior players Hansen trots out, and for how long. After a promotional tour of Chicago, the All-Blacks cross the Atlantic and get down to business: facing more-traditional and much-tougher rivals England, Scotland and Wales on successive Saturdays.

Midfield back Conrad Smith, who’s represented New Zealand 83 times, was asked to put the match-up in terms American sports fans could relate to. He thought for a moment, smiled and said, ”About the same as our basketball guys playing yours.”

New Zealand’s basketball ranking – No. 21 in the world – is almost on par with the USA’s rugby perch – No. 18 – and the chance of an upset is roughly the same. Small wonder someone challenged USA coach Mike Tolkin to come up with a ”realistic” goal.

”To get the respect of our opponents,” he said. ”If we walk off the field leaving our blood and guts out there, we’ll be satisfied.”

The stewards of the sport, though, are hoping for a bit more.

The sellout nearly tripled the previous attendance record for a stateside match and it represents rugby’s latest attempt to get a foothold in the lucrative, but already crowded U.S. sports market. It came together because of mutual sponsorship ties and the connections of USA Rugby chief executive Nigel Melville, a former captain of England’s national team. Melville also pulled strings to get several other overseas-based U.S. players back for the match.

”We saw the impact the last (soccer) World Cup had on the U.S., the progression that game made here over the course of a decade or so,” said Brett Gosper, chief executive of the International Rugby Board. ”This is a country that certainly appreciates contact sport, though our game is quite different from American football.”

Rugby was just as big as football on these shores once. They parted ways over the forward pass and football peeled off the lion’s share of the colleges and the audience.

Since 2006, USA Rugby has spread around seed money, starting both youth and coaching development programs. But football castoffs still provide the bulk of the elite players. About two-thirds of the Golden Eagles played in high school and several in college.

The United States, with a population nearing 320 million, now has about 120,000 registered competitive players – about the same number as New Zealand, whose population is around 4.5 million. But Samu Manoa – who was born in California, is of Tongan descent and plays professionally for the Northampton Saints in England’s top-tier league – might be the lone Golden Eagle good enough to crack the New Zealand squad. As if they didn’t know it, the Golden Eagles are reminded at nearly every turn.

”Do you feel like you’ve got to put on a good show?” a reporter asked USA’s Danny Barrett.

”We want to put on a good show,” Barrett replied, ”for ourselves.”

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Maori All Blacks pluck Eagles in Chicago

New Zealand’s Maori All Blacks cruised past the United States Eagles 54-7 to open their three-match tour of North America and Europe with a comfortable victory here Friday.

Japan-born loose forward Akira Ioane scored twice as the New Zealanders outclassed their American hosts by eight tries to one at Chicago’s Toyota Park.

Wing James Lowe dotted down in the corner after 11 minutes to put the Maori 5-0 ahead with Ihaia West adding the conversion.

Ioane’s first try from a peel at the front of the lineout put the tourists 12-0 ahead, with West again adding the conversion.
Lowe grabbed his second of the night in the 34th minute, touching down under the posts for a converted try after a clever chip from West split the US midfield.

The New Zealanders then took full advantage of the sin-binning of US Eagles hooker James Hilterbrand, stretching their lead when captain Ash Dixon barreled over from close range to make it 26-0. West added the conversion to give the Maori a 28-0 lead at half-time.

Ioane punished poor Eagles marking at a maul early in the second half to put the New Zealanders 33-0 up before West once again converted.
USA captain Todd Clever drew the biggest cheer of the night when he was driven over for a try converted by William Holder for 35-7.

But the Maori All Blacks were soon back on the charge again, with prop Kane Hames, replacement scrum half Brad Weber and prop Joe Royal all crossing for late scores.

The Maori All Blacks now head to Ireland to play Munster on November 12 before wrapping up their short tour against Harlequins on November 17.

USA Eagles – 7

Tries: Todd Clever

Con: Will Holder

Maori All Blacks – 54

Tries: James Lowe 2, Akira Ioane 2, Ash Dixon, Kane Hames, Brad Weber, Joe Royal.

Con: Ihaia West 6, Damian McKenzie con

HT: 0-28

The Chicago Test match between Ireland and the All Blacks will be streamed live from allblack.com at 7:00am ADST Sunday morning. More info here.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

NBCSN TO TELEVISE PAIR OF INTERNATIONAL RUGBY MATCHES FROM “THE RUGBY WEEKEND PRESENTED BY AIG” THIS SATURDAY NIGHT

World Cup Champion New Zealand All Blacks vs. 2015 Six Nations Champion Ireland at Soldier Field in Chicago on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN

USA Eagles Host Maori All Blacks Saturday, Nov. 5, at 10 p.m. ET on NBCSN

STAMFORD, Conn. – Nov. 2, 2016 – NBCSN will present a pair of international rugby matches this Saturday, Nov. 5, beginning at 8 p.m. ET, when the defending World Cup Champion New Zealand All Blacks face off against 2015 Six Nations Champion Ireland from historic Soldier Field, home of the NFL’s Chicago Bears. Immediately following New Zealand-Ireland, NBCSN will showcase the USA Eagles against the Maori All Blacks from Toyota Park in Chicago at 10 p.m. ET. The two matches are part of “The Rugby Weekend,” a collaboration between USA Rugby and TLA Worldwide.

The clash between the USA Eagles and Maori All Blacks marks the fourth encounter between the two teams, which last met in 2014, when the Maori All Blacks defeated the Eagles 29-19 in Philadelphia. The New Zealand All Blacks and Irish Rugby Football Union also met most recently in 2013, when New Zealand edged Ireland by a score of 24-22 in Dublin.

This marks the third straight year that NBC Sports Group has presented an international rugby match from Chicago. In 2014, NBC televised the USA Eagles’ match from Soldier Field against the All Blacks, and last year, the Eagles took on the Qantas Wallabies on NBCSN.

Veteran play-by-play announcer Todd Harris will call the matches, and will be joined in the booth by analysts and former USA Rugby World Cup members Brian Hightower and Dan Lyle.


ABOUT USA RUGBY

Established in 1975, USA Rugby is the governing body for the sport of rugby in America and a Full Sport Member of the United States Olympic Committee. Currently headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, USA Rugby is charged with developing the game on all levels and has more than 125,000 active members, with more than 32,000 playing collegiate rugby and 27,000 playing senior club rugby. USA Rugby oversees four national teams, multiple collegiate and high school All-American sides, and an emerging Olympic development pathway for elite athletes. It also hosts more than 30 national playoff and championship events each year as a service to its members.


ABOUT AIG

American International Group, Inc. (AIG) is a leading global insurance organization. Founded in 1919, today AIG member companies provide a wide range of property casualty insurance, life insurance, retirement products, mortgage insurance and other financial services to customers in more than 100 countries and jurisdictions. These diverse offerings include products and services that help businesses and individuals protect their assets, manage risks and provide for retirement security. AIG common stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

Additional information about AIG can be found at www.aig.com and www.aig.com/strategyupdate | YouTube: www.youtube.com/aig | Twitter: @AIGinsurance | LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/company/aig. These references with additional information about AIG have been provided as a convenience, and the information contained on such websites is not incorporated by reference into this document.

AIG is the marketing name for the worldwide property-casualty, life and retirement, and general insurance operations of American International Group, Inc. For additional information, please visit our website at www.aig.com. All products and services are written or provided by subsidiaries or affiliates of American International Group, Inc. Products or services may not be available in all countries, and coverage is subject to actual policy language. Non-insurance products and services may be provided by independent third parties. Certain property-casualty coverages may be provided by a surplus lines insurer. Surplus lines insurers do not generally participate in state guaranty funds, and insureds are therefore not protected by such funds.

ABOUT TLA WORLDWIDE

TLA Worldwide and its subsidiary, The Legacy Agency, Inc., is a leading athlete representation, sports marketing and event management group quoted on London’s AIM. The group derives revenues from long term agency relationships with many prominent U.S. and international sports stars, broadcasters and media personalities associated with major sports including the MLB, NFL, NBA, PGA Tour, AFL, Olympians and Cricketers. In addition, it also provides a range of services in respect of media consultancy, sports sponsorship and event creation and ownership, including the International Champion’s Cup tournament in Australia. With over 160 full-time personnel, TLA Worldwide serves its clients from 10 locations worldwide including its offices in London, UK; New York , Newport Beach, California USA; and Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and Sydney, Australia. For more information, please visit www.tlaworldwide.com.


ABOUT NBCSN

NBCSN is NBC Sports Group’s dedicated 24/7 linear sports network. Now in nearly 85 million homes, the Emmy Award-winning network is the cable television home of the Summer and Winter Olympics, National Hockey League (NHL) – including two Stanley Cup Final games — NASCAR, Formula One, IndyCar, Premier League, Tour de France, and America’s Cup. In addition, NBCSN features college football, college basketball, college hockey, cycling, outdoor programming, horse racing surrounding the Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup, Ironman, the AVP Tour and USA Sevens Rugby. The network is also home to original programs such as NFL Turning Point, Pro Football Talk, The Dan Patrick Show, and NASCAR America. NBCSN is distributed via cable systems and satellite operators throughout the United States.

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New Zealand All Blacks to meet Ireland in Chicago on Nov. 5

CHICAGO (AP) The last time New Zealand’s defending Rugby World Cup champion All Blacks team played in the U.S., the game was a record-setting sellout.

It also was a blowout, as the storied All Blacks routed the USA Eagles national squad 74-6 before 61,500 people – the largest crowd to ever see a rugby match on American soil – in Chicago’s Soldier Field in November 2014.

When the All Blacks return to the lakefront stadium on Nov. 5, USA Rugby and event organizers predict similar numbers at the gate – and that the score will be closer. The New Zealanders will meet the defending European Six Nations champion Irish national team.

The game will be the centerpiece of a ”Rugby Weekend” intended to promote the sport in the U.S. A match between the USA Eagles and New Zealand’s Maori All-Blacks will take place on Nov. 4 at Toyota Park in suburban Bridgeview, Illinois.

According to USA Rugby CEO Nigel Melville, the All Blacks-Ireland match came together for two main reasons.

First, many of the USA Eagles players will still be under contract with European teams and unavailable for the Nov. 5 game.

Also, the Irish figure to be a stronger opponent, which will help showcase rugby at an elite level to American fans USA Rugby believes are hungry to learn more.

”It will spike interest in the game, which is good,” Melville said. ”People want to see rugby. The more rugby, the better rugby they see, the more they get inspired by it.”

Even if Ireland is struggling in the current Six Nations tournament, its national team figures give the All Blacks a gritty challenge.

And the Irish will be motivated, too. They haven’t beaten the All Blacks in 28 previous tries.

”For us Irish, unfortunately we don’t have the best record against the All Blacks,” Ireland’s Tommy Bowe said. ”We’ve never beat them, but we’ve been very, very close on plenty of occasions.

”We have massive support here in Chicago and in America. It could be a chance for us to finally get over that hurdle and potentially beat the All Blacks.”

The All Blacks are looking forward to their return to Chicago, said New Zealand’s Ryan Crotty, who played in the 2014 match.

”It was special the whole week,” Crotty said. ”The game itself was absolutely unreal. The memory, I’ll never forget, was feeling regal.”

Both men’s and women’s U.S. teams will participate in the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro as rugby returns to the Games for the first time since 1924.

The U.S. took the gold medal 92 years ago in Paris in a three-team tournament that included France and Romania.

”We’re the reigning Olympic champions from 1924,” Melville quipped. ”We have a proud legacy to defend.”

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Ireland will play New Zealand on Saturday, November 5, 2016 in a one-off Test match at the 61,500-seater stadium which is home to NFL outfit, the Chicago Bears.

The match is part of ‘The Rugby Weekend’ which will also see the USA Eagles take on the New Zealand Maori on Friday, November 4 at Toyota Park.

Tickets for ‘The Rugby Weekend’ will go on sale on Friday, April 1, but it is recommended that fans visit www.TheRugbyWeekend.com to sign up for early ticket alerts.

Irish Rugby Football Union CEO Philip Browne commented: “There is a huge population in the USA who are proud of their Irish heritage as well as large numbers of Irish who have migrated more recently to live and work in the USA.

“We know that many of these people are Irish rugby fans and we look forward to seeing them pack out the stadium, alongside some of our passionate travelling fans as we take on the World champions, New Zealand.

“Ireland rugby fans on both sides of the Atlantic will have the opportunity to see their team take on some of the very best sides in World rugby in November 2016.”

IRFU Director of Commercial and Marketing, Padraig Power, said: “We are delighted to be involved in ‘The Rugby Weekend’ and look forward to playing the world champions in the great city of Chicago. Irish Americans will relish seeing the Ireland rugby team contribute further to the development of the game of rugby in the US complimenting the wonderful growth of the game to date.”

USA Rugby CEO Nigel Melville believes that hosting high-profile countries like Ireland and New Zealand for an international Test match will build further momentum for the popularity of the sport across the United States.

“We are looking forward to another fabulous weekend for rugby in the United States with our return to Chicago in November,” he said.

“The city and its fans have shown the world how passionate they are about the sport, and we think this weekend will again take the game’s popularity to another level.”

Upon returning to Ireland, Joe Schmidt’s squad will immediately gear up for the 2016 GUINNESS Series which features another Test against the World champions, a Test against the Rugby World Cup runners-up Australia, while the Series opens with a re-match against the Canadian side who Ireland faced at RWC 2015. Ticket information for the 2016 GUINNESS Series will be available on IrishRugby.ie in the coming weeks.

IRELAND TEST FIXTURES – NOVEMBER 2016:

IRELAND v New Zealand
Soldier Field, Chicago
Saturday, November 5, kick-off 3pm local time/8pm Irish time

2016 GUINNESS SERIES –

IRELAND v Canada
Aviva Stadium
Saturday, November 12, kick-off 7.15pm

IRELAND v New Zealand
Aviva Stadium
Saturday, November 19, kick-off 5.30pm

IRELAND v Australia
Aviva Stadium
Saturday, November 26, kick-off 5.30pm

Rugby United States of America vs New Zealand Maori, Chicago

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All Blacks, Ireland, Maori All Blacks Official for Chicago

Ireland versus New Zealand and the USA against the Maori All Blacks in Chicago the first weekend of November was confirmed this week by USA Rugby. The organizers are dubbing the back-to-back matches, “The Rugby Weekend”. The Eagles take on the Maori All Blacks Friday Nov. 4 at Toyota Park and the World Cup champions face the Irish the next day at Soldier Field.

“We are looking forward to another fabulous weekend for rugby in the United States with our return to Chicago in November,” said USA Rugby CEO Nigel Melville. “The city and its fans have shown the world how passionate they are about the sport, and we think this weekend will again take the game’s popularity to another level.”

The last time the All Blacks took to the pitch in the United States, a record crowd of over 61,500 filled Soldier Field to watch them drub the USA 74-6. The last time the Maori All Blacks visited, in 2013, they beat the Eagles 29-19 in front of 18,500 at a sold out PPL Park in Philadelphia.

“We have very fond memories of playing in Chicago in 2014,” said New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Steve Tew. “We really appreciated the efforts of the city in rolling out the welcome mat for rugby. We know American fans had a very special experience and we expect a whole new group of fans to enjoy what will be a unique showcase of top class rugby over consecutive days.

“The Maori All Blacks play an exciting brand of rugby and are fantastic ambassadors for our culture and our country, so this is a great way to kick off ‘The Rugby Weekend’ before the All Blacks take on Ireland the following day,” he said.

Ireland is the reigning RBS 6 Nations champion, a title the team has held 12 times outright and shared eight times.

Report: Ireland could face New Zealand in the United States next year

Could our first victory over New Zealand come on American soil?

Ireland are being touted as potential All Black opponents for a game in the United States next year.

The New Zealand Herald are reporting that plans are being made for two games in America in Autumn 2016, most likely at Chicago’s Solider Field, with Maori All Blacks and All Blacks playing on consecutive nights.

Due to a strong Irish-American community, Ireland are reportedly being considered as potential opponents for a game in either Chicago or Boston.

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According to the NZ Herald:

Ireland have been mentioned previously as a potential opponent for the All Blacks in either Boston or Chicago, where many people with Irish connections have settled. The IRU has also been touted as one union keen to broaden their rugby reach.

The All Blacks played at Soldier Field last year, recording a comfortable victory over the USA Eagles 74-6 in front of 62,000 people.

New Zealand Rugby are hoping to make an announcement before the start of September’s World Cup.

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All Blacks in Chicago for exhibition vs. USA Rugby

All Blacks in Chicago for exhibition vs. USA Rugby

CHICAGO (AP) — America’s history on rugby’s world stage can be summed up in two sentences.

Team USA took home the gold from both the 1920 and 1924 Olympics. And then, just like the Chicago Cubs, took the rest of the century off.

The timing couldn’t be much better for a rare stateside visit from New Zealand’s storied All Blacks, who face the USA’s Golden Eagles on Saturday at sold-out Soldier Field (capacity: 61,500). Even though it’s only an exhibition, the match will be televised nationally on NBC and provide a snapshot of where USA Rugby – after nearly a decade of investment and effort – stands on the road back to respectability.

The Golden Eagles have already qualified for the 2015 World Cup and hope to do the same for the 2016 Summer Olympics, where rugby (the seven-a-side version, instead of 15 players each) will return as a medal sport for the first time since the Americans won. Despite those and other accomplishments in recent years, especially by the U.S. women’s and youth teams, the key to enjoying Saturday’s match might be not to expect too much.

The All-Blacks are rugby’s 1927 Yankees, a dynasty that’s claimed two of the seven World Cups played (no other nation has more than one) and has been almost unbeatable (34 wins, 2 draws and 2 losses) since coach Steve Hansen took over in 2012. They’re fast, skilled, bruising, experienced, deep at every spot and led by captain Richie McCaw, the most capped New Zealander of all-time and the game’s only three-time international player of the year.

The team’s pre-game ”Haka,” a Maori rite that resembles a line-dance with bad intentions, could turn out to be the highlight of the afternoon. If nothing else, American audiences might appreciate a game with every player handling the ball, no TV timeouts, an occasional scrum instead of huddles after every play and – relatively – lower-level violence.

The only suspense after kickoff figures to be the margin of New Zealand’s win. That will be determined in large part by how many of the squad’s senior players Hansen trots out, and for how long. After a promotional tour of Chicago, the All-Blacks cross the Atlantic and get down to business: facing more-traditional and much-tougher rivals England, Scotland and Wales on successive Saturdays.

Midfield back Conrad Smith, who’s represented New Zealand 83 times, was asked to put the match-up in terms American sports fans could relate to. He thought for a moment, smiled and said, ”About the same as our basketball guys playing yours.”

New Zealand’s basketball ranking – No. 21 in the world – is almost on par with the USA’s rugby perch – No. 18 – and the chance of an upset is roughly the same. Small wonder someone challenged USA coach Mike Tolkin to come up with a ”realistic” goal.

”To get the respect of our opponents,” he said. ”If we walk off the field leaving our blood and guts out there, we’ll be satisfied.”

The stewards of the sport, though, are hoping for a bit more.

The sellout nearly tripled the previous attendance record for a stateside match and it represents rugby’s latest attempt to get a foothold in the lucrative, but already crowded U.S. sports market. It came together because of mutual sponsorship ties and the connections of USA Rugby chief executive Nigel Melville, a former captain of England’s national team. Melville also pulled strings to get several other overseas-based U.S. players back for the match.

”We saw the impact the last (soccer) World Cup had on the U.S., the progression that game made here over the course of a decade or so,” said Brett Gosper, chief executive of the International Rugby Board. ”This is a country that certainly appreciates contact sport, though our game is quite different from American football.”

Rugby was just as big as football on these shores once. They parted ways over the forward pass and football peeled off the lion’s share of the colleges and the audience.

Since 2006, USA Rugby has spread around seed money, starting both youth and coaching development programs. But football castoffs still provide the bulk of the elite players. About two-thirds of the Golden Eagles played in high school and several in college.

The United States, with a population nearing 320 million, now has about 120,000 registered competitive players – about the same number as New Zealand, whose population is around 4.5 million. But Samu Manoa – who was born in California, is of Tongan descent and plays professionally for the Northampton Saints in England’s top-tier league – might be the lone Golden Eagle good enough to crack the New Zealand squad. As if they didn’t know it, the Golden Eagles are reminded at nearly every turn.

”Do you feel like you’ve got to put on a good show?” a reporter asked USA’s Danny Barrett.

”We want to put on a good show,” Barrett replied, ”for ourselves.”

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