The Times have reported that Premiership Rugby is investigating the possibility of staging at least one Aviva Premiership match in the US next season, with talks allegedly at an ‘advanced stage’.
The idea has been around for some time now – talks of London Irish tapping into the vast Irish population in Boston or New York have been circulating in the past few years. Now, though, Premiership Rugby CEO Mark McCafferty has confirmed that rather than an ad hoc arrangement made by individual clubs themselves, a more structured approach is being discussed.
“We are working on plans for a game out there,” McCafferty told The Times. “There are opportunities; we have to find the right entry point and the right time. We have got to recognise that it will build. It is slowly beginning to come through [in the USA]. They have players who are beginning to come through.”
Several clubs are said to be interested. Leicester’s chief executive, Simon Cohen, said they were considering it, but warned against the large cost of the exercise – it would reportedly cost each club in the region of £100,000.
“There are all sorts of sponsorship deals that may reduce that cost,” he said, “but it is not as cheap as playing on the other side of the east Midlands.”
Bath’s chairman Bruce Craig said: “There are opportunities to look at coaching opportunities together, academies working together, twin cities, twin teams, leagues. In the future I can see that developing into something pretty significant.”
Saracens and Leicester told the newspaper that they would only consider playing in America as the away team, so that it did not affect their home crowds.
There’s no doubt that rugby is closing the gap on American Football, partly because it is seen as a cheaper and less phyiscally dangerous alternative for younger players, and partly because of the ascension of the sevens game to the 2016 Olympics. The USA team recently qualified for the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England.
What do you think of the plans to stage Aviva Premiership games in the USA? Is it a good idea, or a waste of money?
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images