All Blacks to take on Ireland for first time in the USA
Maori All Blacks to play USA Eagles
American sports fans are in for a feast of rugby when the All Blacks return to Soldier Field in Chicago to play Ireland for the first time on American soil, and the Maori All Blacks take on the USA Eagles.
The World Champions will play the 2015 Six Nations Champions on Saturday 5 November at iconic Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears. It’s the first encounter between the sides since the nail biting 2013 Dublin Test when the All Blacks pipped Ireland 24-22 in the dying seconds to complete a perfect unbeaten season.
The Chicago Test is just the fourth visit to the USA by the All Blacks and also marks two years since the historic match between the All Blacks and the USA Eagles when a record USA rugby crowd of 61,500 fans packed out Soldier Field.
The All Blacks will play Ireland again on 19 November at Aviva Stadium, Dublin as part of the End of Year Tour which will also see them play Tests against France and Italy.
Dubbed “The Rugby Weekend”, the action kicks off on Friday, 4 November, at the 30,000 seat Toyota Park when the Maori All Blacks return to America for a re-match with the USA Eagles in only the fourth encounter between the two teams. In 2013 they defeated the USA Eagles 29-19 in Philadelphia.
Both matches were confirmed at a media conference in Chicago this morning, attended by All Blacks midfielder Ryan Crotty, who scored the winning try for the All Blacks in 2013 and Ireland international Tommy Bowe.
“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 also play an exciting brand of rugby and are fantastic ambassadors for our culture and our country so this will be a great way to kick off The Rugby Weekend,” he said.
“We’re really looking forward to coming back to the USA where the game is growing rapidly and to a city which we know loves sport.”
All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: “The match against the USA Eagles in 2014 was a huge success and we are excited to be returning to Chicago. It will certainly be a unique occasion for the team: playing Ireland in Chicago and then again in Dublin two weeks later. I’m sure All Blacks and Irish fans from all over North America and the world will descend on Chicago for what will be a truly historic match.”
USA Rugby CEO Nigel Melville 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.”
Tickets for The Rugby Weekend go one sale on 1 April.
4 November Maori All Blacks v USA Eagles, Toyota Park, Chicago
All Blacks End of Year Tour
5 November All Blacks v Ireland, Soldier Field, Chicago
12 November All Blacks v Italy, Rome, venue TBC
19 November All Blacks v Ireland, Aviva Stadium, Dublin
26 November All Blacks v France, Stade de France, Paris