May 14, 2014
All Blacks to play USA Eagles in Chicago
The All Blacks will play the USA Eagles in an historic Test match in Chicago on Saturday 1 November.
This will mark the first match between the two sides on American 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 United States.
“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.
“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,” said USA Rugby Chief Executive Nigel Melville.
The announcement was made at the venue for the match - the 61,000-seat Soldier Field, home of American NFL side the Chicago Bears. This will be the first rugby match ever played at the venue and has been made possible with the support of All Blacks Major Global Sponsor and USA Rugby sponsor AIG, which is the event sponsor for the Test.
New Zealand last took on the USA at the 1991 Rugby World Cup in England and played an exhibition match in San Diego, California, in 1980. The teams also played each other 101 years ago in Berkeley, California.
Ticketing and broadcast details
American broadcaster NBC will provide a live national broadcast coverage for the match which kicks off at 2:30pm (US Central Time). Broadcast details for New Zealand and the rest of the world will be confirmed in due course.
Tickets will be released to the general public June 17. Visit www.usavallblacks.com for more information on the match and travel packages and to register for pre-sale tickets, which will be released June 16.
New Zealand All Blacks fans have a unique opportunity to fly to Chicago with the team on an exclusive All Blacks Tours fan flight and will also be able to attend an All Blacks training session. Limited seats are available. For more information visit www.allblackstours.com.
The All Blacks will travel to Chicago on their way to Europe as part of their end of year tour and will spend a week in the city preparing for the Test.
Captain Richie McCaw said it was exciting to think that that All Blacks would be playing in the United States at a time when the USA Eagles and rugby in general were on the rise in the country.
“You look at the calibre 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. 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.”
The All Blacks were represented at the announcement by Chiefs co-captain Liam Messam and the USA Eagles by veteran loose forward Louis Stanfill.
"There's no question this will be the biggest rugby match in American history to this point," said Stanfill. "I can't think of a better way to prepare for the World Cup than to play the champions."
All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said he was thrilled at the prospect of the All Blacks playing the USA Eagles on American soil.
“The All Blacks have only played the USA three times and all of those games have been spread out over a long time, so having the chance to play in the States itself and particularly in Chicago, a city with so much history and sporting history as well, is really exciting.”
Hansen said even though the USA Eagles weren’t regular opponents, the All Blacks wouldn’t be changing the way they prepared for the Test match.
“Tactically, obviously when you have a different opposition – in any sport – you have got to appreciate what they do and what they bring and make sure you have got the tools in the toolbox to combat that.”
The All Blacks vs USA Test is expected to generate huge interest from Chicago sports fans and on the American sports scene with Chicago one of four cities to have teams from the five major American professional team sports: baseball, American football, basketball, ice hockey and soccer.
“We think Chicago and Solider Field is a great fit for both sides,” said Steve Tew.
The ground is a memorial to American soldiers and opened in 1924, the same year the USA won the gold medal in rugby at the Paris Olympics - the last time rugby was played at the Olympics.
“I visited Soldier Field recently and this is a stadium with huge atmosphere, rich history and wonderful facilities and a ground which has never hosted an international rugby match so this will be an unforgettable night of sports action.”
All Blacks v USA facts
The All Blacks and USA have met just three times, with two of those matches accorded Test status:
1991 – Rugby World Cup, Gloucester, England. All Blacks 46 USA 6
1980 – San Diego, California. All Blacks 53 USA 6 (non-Test)
1913 – Berkeley, California. All Blacks 51 USA 3