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CHICAGO (Tuesday, May 12, 2015) – USA Rugby CEO Nigel Melville announced today that the USA Rugby Eagles will make their return to Soldier Field against the Australian Wallabies in a Saturday, September 5 test match, presented by Astellas. The country v. country match will be the final test for both organizations prior to their to departure for the Rugby World Cup in England.
For the second time in less than 12 months the Eagles will take on a top-tier international Rugby Union in the Windy City. In a November 2014 fall test, the Eagles took on the reigning world champions the New Zealand All Blacks in front of a sold out, standing-room only crowd.
“We are excited to be returning to Chicago for this important match which will be a final Rugby World Cup send-off game for both teams. Soldier Field provides a unique fan experience and an electric atmosphere,” said Melville.
“Rugby fans from all over the country will make their way out to see another great match against one of the best teams the world of rugby has to offer.”
Australia Rugby Union CEO Bill Pulver was excited when asked about the Labor Day weekend match, saying, “The opportunity to bring the Qantas Wallabies to a new market in the United States is a major boost for our code in Australia. We want to thank USA Rugby for making this opportunity possible.”
Men’s Eagles Coach Mike Tolkin has been with the Eagles since 2009, taking on head coaching duties in 2012. This will be his first time coaching the Eagles against the Wallabies, but Tolkin knows the difficulties that lay ahead. “Having the Wallabies come into Chicago is fantastic opportunity, but a huge challenge,” said Tolkin. “As one of the top teams in the world, Australia will present the Eagles with an immense degree of pressure and difficulty. This will be a perfect test leading up to the World Cup”
The Wallabies are two-time winners at the Rugby World Cup (1991 and 1999) and still hold the record for consecutive wins on Rugby’s biggest stage with 12. Despite their history of success, the Wallabies know this match will not come easy.
“The lead up and match will be critical for our Rugby World Cup preparations,” Wallabies Head Coach Micael Cheika said. “You want to be able to challenge yourself against different environments and quality opposition that you don’t play against week in, week out.
“Although we haven’t met on many occasions, there’s a rich history between our two Rugby nations, with the Eagles playing their first ever test match against the Wallabies some 40 years ago. We know it will be a spirited encounter for that very reason.”
Rugby in the United States has been growing at a torrid pace, with some agencies claiming it is the fastest-growing team sport in the country. The increase in participation has been making waves internationally, as well. “I am delighted that Australia is playing the USA at Soldier Field, Chicago – it is another example of how our sport is growing,” said World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset.
“Rugby is spreading across the globe through the hard work of World Rugby and ambitious unions like USA Rugby. When the Wallabies take on the Eagles it will be another opportunity to show our wonderful game to thousands of potential new fans and players throughout North America and beyond.”
Northbrook-based Astellas Pharma has signed on as the title sponsor of the event.
“Astellas is dedicated to helping people live a healthy life, and we believe that physical activity is a key part of that. The commitment to healthy living that we see from these top-tier rugby players is an example we should all take to heart,” said James Robinson, president of Astellas Pharma US, Inc. “Furthermore, we look forward to bringing many activities to the city leading up to and at the match that will generate excitement for the sport of rugby, provide opportunities to educate about how people can live a healthy life and engage fans in being active members of the community so many Astellas employees and customers call home.”
General ticket sales will be available for purchase on Monday, June 1. Presale opportunities will be available starting Thursday, May 28 for those who join the USA Rugby ticket presale email list. Broadcast details will be released at a later date.
Credentials for the event will be made available through usarugby.org/media-credential. Media requests for the match logo can be requested by emailing email@example.com.
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