WELLINGTON (Reuters) - The emergence of the United States as a lucrative rugby market continued on Wednesday with the announcement seven-times Super Rugby champions Canterbury Crusaders will play English powerhouse Saracens in the Superdome in New Orleans.
News of the August exhibition match follows on from the announcement that Australia’s Wallabies would play the United States at Chicago’s Soldier Field en route to the World Cup later this year.
The All Blacks also played the Eagles in Chicago last year.
The ‘Hemispheres Cup’ in New Orleans will be played on Aug. 1, though it is unlikely any international players will be involved just six weeks out from the World Cup.
Crusaders Chief Executive Hamish Riach said their team would be a combination of Super Rugby and provincial players.
“This will be an amazing opportunity for some of our local players to be involved in such a unique event,” he said.
“There is a real appetite for rugby in the United States at the moment, so I am sure that the game will be well supported.”
Rugby’s power brokers have long eyed the United States as an untapped source of commercial revenue and playing stocks, though the inclusion of rugby sevens at next year’s Olympics has been seen as a stepping stone to cracking the market.
The United States won their first World Sevens Series tournament in London last Sunday, while World Rugby said last week the 2018 sevens World Cup would be held in San Francisco.
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Peter Rutherford