London Irish and Premiership Rugby confirmed today that the club will be the first to play a Premiership fixture overseas when the Exiles take their Round 16 home match to the USA on Saturday 12 March 2016.
The fixture will see London Irish play reigning champions, Saracens, at the 25,000 capacity Red Bull Arena, the home of Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls.
This ground-breaking announcement is a milestone in the development of London Irish and of the League which underlines the growing international interest in Aviva Premiership Rugby and showcases it in the biggest sports market in the world where rugby is currently the fastest growing team sport.
Taking place amidst the build-up to the St. Patrick’s Day festivities in the “Big Apple”, this London Irish home game will also be a celebration of Irish culture for the many thousands of first, second and third generation Irish people living in the New York region.
London Irish Chief Executive Officer, Bob Casey said: “This is an enormous opportunity for London Irish and a chance for our Club to gain exposure in one of the biggest sporting cities in the world.
"The New York region has a significant Irish community and is renowned for its annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, so it’s the perfect time for our Club to venture into this market.
“Rugby is set for an exciting time with Rugby World Cup 2015 reaching its final stages, the inclusion of 7’s in the 2016 Olympic Games, and now the first ever Aviva Premiership fixture in the USA.
"We are well placed to capitalise on these exceptional opportunities to create a lasting legacy for both rugby and London Irish. We intend to continue to be at the forefront of the development of the game in the USA.”
Mark McCafferty, Premiership Rugby’s Chief Executive said: “This is a significant day in the history of Premiership Rugby and one that has taken a number of years and a lot of hard work to bring to fruition.
"Premiership Rugby is the most competitive league in world rugby with a fast-growing following outside England and we are delighted to stage a competitive match in the USA.
“There are ambitious plans to grow the game in the States and this is the latest stage in that strategy. I’d like to thank both London Irish for their support and vision in making this bold step as well as Saracens and our partners; The Legacy Agency Inc and USA Rugby. We firmly believe this will be a great success and will showcase live Aviva Premiership Rugby to a new audience.”
“We are looking forward to bringing these two world class clubs to the New York area for what will be a memorable matchup,” said USA Rugby CEO Nigel Melville, who will be advising on the match.
“Our sport continues to grow in the United States, and we believe this event will be another big step forward in the growth of the game.”