March 10, 2016
Aviva Premiership Rugby Comes To the USA: London Irish vs. Saracens
Photo: Aviva Premiership Rugby – London Irish v Saracens
This is an historic week for Aviva Premiership Rugby, as they await the kickoff of the first regular season league match in the United State. It will take place this Saturday, March 12th at 3pm at Red Bull Arena. A sizeable crowd is expected with a large number of walk up purchase expected on match day. If tickets are purchased a day early, a 20% discount may be obtained by using the code 20RUGBYAM.
In advance of this match, the Aviva Premiership Rugby and the British Council have been conducting Try Rugby USA clinics for several weeks. This week has been a busy one for both teams as they prepare for the match. Between practices Press Conferences were held by the London Irish on Tuesday and the Saracens on Wednesday. This afternoon there were photo and interview opportunities to see the players in Time Square and tomorrow will be the Captain’s Run for both teams at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. The London Irish are scheduled at 10:30am, while the Saracens have 1:30pm.
The Saracens come into the match in first place with a narrow lead over the Exeter Chiefs. The London Irish are currently in twelfth place and hope to climb the standings prior to the end of the season. They may want to draw on the “Luck of the Irish” in a neutral site in an area rich in Irish heritage to spur this upward surge.
The Saracens also have some United States national interest in three USA national team players who have received caps for the Eagles in Chris Wyles, Hayden Smith and Titi Lamositele.
Chris Wyles and Hayden Smith have announced that they will no longer play international rugby 15s test matches, while Titi Lamositele is expected to appear for the Eagles for years to come. All three played for the Eagles are the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
At the Rugby World Cup, Chris Wyles captained the USA Rugby Men’s Eagles team and ended his International 15s career with 54 caps earned between 2007 and 2015. Previously he also was an Eagles Sevens captain. This past June, he helped the United States qualify for the Olympics upon returning to the Eagles Sevens squad after the Saracens season had ended. He hopes to do that again this year and contest for one of the twelve spots on the squad.
For now though, his main concentration is in trying to help the Saracens again a Premiership Rugby Championship. A Champions Cup trophy would also be welcome. Chris has played multiple position for the Saracens since he joined them in 2008. He may be found on wing, fullback and occasionally at centre. He is one of the Saracens most consistent players and is now approaching almost 200 appearances for the team.
Hayden Smith plays Lock for the Saracens. He joined the team in 2008 and then left in 2012 to play tight end for the New York Jets. He then returned to rugby and the Saracens in 2014 and has been with the team since that time. He appears to have played for the team between 55 and 60+ times, as accurate statistics need to be confirmed. He also earned 29 caps for the USA Eagles.
After Titi Lamositele graduated high school, he earned his first cap for the USA Eagles that Summer. that made him eligible to play in the Premiership and the Saracens quickly signed him to a professional contract. During that time, he has developed as a prop and has been contributing to the team. He just returned from playing last weekend for the Eagles in a Americas Rugby Championship match against Uruguay. I believe that was his 7th cap.
Having the London Irish – Saracens match on USA soil certainly draws attention to USA players. I was able to interview Chris Wyles, Hayden Smith and Titi Lamositele at yesterday’s Saracens Press Conference. They graciously provided candid responses to questions. It should be noted that the interview with Titi was somewhat rushed, as he had dinner plans with other team members.
These interviews are on the DJCoil Rugby YouTube Channel.
Chris Wyles, Saracens Rugby Player, USA Eagles XV & 7s
Hayden Smith, Saracens Rugby Player & USA Rugby Eagle, Saracens Press Conference, West Orange, N.J. March 9, 2016
Titi Lamositele, Saracens Rugby Player, USA Rugby Men’s Eagles Prop, Saracens Press Conference, West Orange, N.J., March 9, 2016
Highlights of Aviva Premiership Rugby and NBC Sports Group Press Release
The addition to being able to be part of this historic rugby match, Premiership Rugby has agreed to a multi-year agreement with NBC Sports Group for coverage of Aviva Premiership Rugby. That includes broadcasting the match live this Saturday, March 12th at 3pm ET on NBC Sports Network (NBCSN). NBC Sports Group’s coverage of Aviva Premiership Rugby begins in earnest with the start of the 2016-17 season in September.
- Initial three-year partnership between NBC Sports Group and Premiership Rugby beginning with the 2016-17 season
- Up to 24 regularly-scheduled Game of the Week programmes for each round of Aviva Premiership Rugby on NBCSN, which is in around 85 million US households
- Up to 50 other Aviva Premiership Rugby matches to be streamed on NBC Sports Live Extra, NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for desktops, mobile devices, tablets and connected TVs
- Joint marketing and promotional campaign across NBC Sports Group’s portfolio of channels and platforms
- Agreement kicks off with first-ever Aviva Premiership Rugby match on US soil this Saturday, March 12, at 3pm (New York time) on NBCSN featuring London Irish v Saracens.Mark McCafferty, Chief Executive at Premiership Rugby, indicated that “this new agreement with NBC Sports Group is an historic milestone for us. It takes the Aviva Premiership Rugby brand to a bigger audience than we have ever had in the US.”
The Aviva Premiership has partnered with BT Sport in UK and Ireland and has contributed to a huge rise in viewership for the league based on the principles of regular scheduling, great production and passionate marketing. The NBC Sports Group has an established reputation of being home of the Olympics, as well as Sunday Night Football and is now the US home of the Premier League.
With rugby the fastest growing team sport in the United States with approximately 1.9 million participants, there is an increased demand for high quality rugby matches broadcast on a regular basis. The matches broadcast, as well as he compelling stories and personalities of English club rugby, will be welcome here as in England.
McCafferty added: “We are striving to grow rugby union across the world and this is the latest development in this journey, following the announcement of our strategic partnership with USA Rugby.
“We have already seen Harlequins play a match in America and this week London Irish and Saracens will make history by playing the first Aviva Premiership Rugby match in the US. This exposure on NBCSN is great news for all 12 Premiership Rugby clubs and the profile of English rugby.”
ABOUT RUGBY ON NBC AND NBCSN
Since the debut of the Collegiate Rugby Championship in 2010 on NBC, NBC Sports Group has continued to increase the breadth of its coverage and promote the sport of rugby on television in the United States. In addition to serving as the U.S. television home of the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship and Penn Mutual Varsity Cup, NBC Sports Group has televised the Rugby Sevens World Series since 2011, and has presented high-profile international exhibition matches, including the USA Eagles vs. New Zealand All Blacks from historic Soldier Field in Chicago, Ill., in 2014 on NBC.
NBCSN, part of the NBC Sports Group, is dedicated to serving passionate sports fans. Now in more than 83 million homes, the Emmy Award-winning network is the cable television home of the Summer and Winter Olympics, National Hockey League (NHL) – including two games of the Stanley Cup Final — NASCAR, Premier League, Formula One, IndyCar, Tour de France, and America’s Cup. In addition, NBCSN features college football, college basketball, college hockey, cycling, outdoor programming, horse racing surrounding the Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup, Ironman, the Dew Tour and USA Sevens Rugby. The network is also home to original programs such as NFL Turning Point, Pro Football Talk, The Dan Patrick Show, and NASCAR America. NBCSN is distributed via cable systems and satellite operators throughout the United States.
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