SBD/May 13, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL, English Premiership Back Rugby Match At Gillette Stadium With Eye To Create League

Premier Rugby Limited, which represents the English Premiership rugby clubs, and the NFL “are to jointly back an innovative rugby union plan” in the U.S., according to Tom Dart of the GUARDIAN. Premiership club London Irish “will play an exhibition game this summer against a ‘US Barbarians’-style team blending international stars and promising young talent” with the “aim to later create a professional rugby union competition” in the U.S. The match at Gillette Stadium on Aug. 10 will “be called the Independence Cup” and is “the first step towards establishing an East Coast league of about six teams from Boston to Miami that would begin as early as next year.” The match is “backed by Premier Rugby Limited and the NFL via its NFL Network television channel, which is set to broadcast the game.” The organizers are “hoping to entice the area's Irish population and raise a crowd of around 30,000 to show that professional club rugby could be viable in the U.S.” The plan is “to build on that momentum and seek potential investors who are willing to pay for one of the new franchises and to conclude deals to play fixtures in NFL stadiums” (GUARDIAN.co.uk, 5/11). The plan "is the brainchild" of U.S.-based promoters George Robertson and Michael Clements. They formed a company called RugbyLaw and "have been in negotiations with potential partners for months” (GUARDIAN.co.uk, 5/11).
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