Historic double header of All Blacks rugby in Chicago in November13:18:00, Wed 17 Feb 2016 New Zealand Rugby
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.
View The Rugby Weekend promotional video here.
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.
Go to Chicago with All Blacks Tours
As the official travel agency for New Zealand Rugby, All Blacks Tours will be offering a range of tour packages to help fans witness these historic matches. Tour packages will be available soon, but in the meantime fans can 'Play Advantage' and secure their place with a refundable payment of $200. All Blacks Tours will send all those that 'Plays Advantage' full details of available packages before they go on sale to the general public, and they can redeem their $200 against any of the packages on offer for this tour. Visit www.allblackstours.com to Play Advantage now.