Eagles Play Maori All Blacks in Chicago: Maori AB Touring Squad Announced
Photo: AIG “The Rugby Weekend” USA Rugby v Maori All Blacks
The USA Rugby Eagles play the Maori All Blacks on Friday November 4 at Toyota Park in Chicago. The Eagles will then travel to Europe to play Romania and Tonga, while the Maori All Blacks will then play Munster and the Harlequins.
The Maori All Blacks match against the USA Rugby Eagles are part of AIG Rugby Weekend in Chicago. The USA Rugby v Maori All Blacks match at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois at 7pm CT is likely going to be sold out, but tickets are still available on TicketMaster. On November 5, Ireland will play the All Blacks at Soldier Field in Chicago at 3pm CT. Tickets may be also obtained through TicketMaster.
The Friday, Nov. 4, match falls just outside of the international test window and Global Release Period that calls for professional clubs around the world to release players called up to international duty as subject to World Rugby’s Regulation 9.
“High quality international Rugby is in the best interests of . . . [and]promotes the sport and encourages new participants and support for the sport around the world and at all levels . . . The retention of high quality international Rugby benefits Players because it fulfills their aspirations to play at the highest level of the sport.”
The Eagles have three matches in November. After the Maori All Blacks, they play Romania on Saturday, Nov. 12 at 11 a.m. ET at Stadionul Arcul de Triumf in Bucharest, Romania. Then they travel to San Sebastián, Spain to play Tonga match on
Saturday, Nov. 19 at 11 a.m. ET at Estadio Anoeta.
After the match against the Eagles, the Maori All Blacks will face Munster on Friday November 11 at Thomond Park, Limerick, Ireland. On Wednesday November 16 they play the Harlequins at the Stoop in London.
The Eagles are fortunate that the Premiership Rugby has allowed the release of Saracens Titi Lamositele and Newcastle Falcons Nick Civetta, who is currently uncapped. Their presence will bolster the forwards.
John Mitchell, Eagles Head Coach, said “Whether it’s international, professional, or club rugby, every program’s after continuity and consistency in its player pool. Our current and potential Eagles are spread far and wide and come from a variety of unique angles and circumstances to play for the USA, and getting them all in one place at one time can be challenging.
“It has been a pleasure to strike a relationship with Mark McCall, Dean Richards, and Premiership Rugby’s other directors of rugby, who understand and empathize with our situation in terms of player availability. USA Rugby, my staff, and I appreciate their flexibility in this regard, and we look forward to a continued partnership that benefits all parties.”
The USA Rugby Eagles squad will need to draw primarily on domestic players for the match against the Maori All Blacks. Several of these players were part of the Americas Pacific Rugby Challenge matches in Uruguay earlier in October and the Americas Rugby Championship in February and March. The other players will include capped Eagles and players who played for PRO Rugby when the squad is announced later this week.
The last time that the Eagles played the Maori All Blacks was in 2013 at PPL Park in Chester, Pennsylvania. The sellout crowd of 18,500 saw a match that was decided in favor of the Maori All Blacks in the closing minutes.
The New Zealand Maori Board acting chairman Peter Goldsmith announced the twenty six man Maori All Blacks squad to tour Chicago, London and Limerick. There are six new caps for this squad, including New Zealand Under 20 captain, Leni Apisai. They are designated with an *in the squad list.
Maori All Blacks: Leni Apisai*, Tim Bateman, Otere Black, Shane Christie, Ash Dixon (cap), Whetu Douglas*, Jason Emery, Chris Eves, Tom Franklin, Billy Guyton*, Kane Hames, Akira Ioane, Mike Kainga, James Lowe, Ben May, Marty McKenzie, Leighton Price*, Reed Prinsep*, Matt Proctor, Kara Pryor*, Marcel Renata, Joe Royal, Jacob Skeen, Sean Wainui, Brad Weber, Ihaia West
Maori All Blacks Head Coach Colin Cooper indicated “We’re delighted with the squad we have announced today – we think there’s an incredible mix of experience and very wise heads, and a special crop of new talent that has been exciting to watch in action in Super Rugby and Mitre 10 Cup.
“This team continues to be an important opportunity for players looking to push for higher honours.
“We are particularly delighted for Rieko Ioane who was named for the first time with the All Blacks on Sunday – and he joins several Maori All Blacks who have earned a call up to the All Blacks in recent years – Nehe Milner Skudder, Codie Taylor, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Joe Moody, Brad Weber, Elliot Dixon, Liam Squire, Damian McKenzie and last year’s skipper Charlie Ngatai currently unavailable due to concussion.”
“We continue to work closely with the All Blacks coaches to ensure that we are aligned and these selections demonstrate the strength of the Maori All Blacks as a high performance team.”
Cooper also said “It’s also good that both teams are in Chicago and the United Kingdom at the same time, so that we can retain that alignment.”
“We are looking forward to heading to Chicago to play the USA Eagles. Playing any national side is an honour, and they’re a team that’s really cementing their place in international rugby.”
“Our matches against Munster and Harlequins will also be very special as we love taking the Maori All Blacks’ style of rugby to other countries.”
Coaching and Management Team: Colin Cooper (Head Coach), Tana Umaga (Ass’t Coach), Carl Hoeft (Set Piece Coach), Tony Ward (Manager), Luke Crawford (Kaumatua) Tribal Elder, Zig Khouri (Doctor), Ash Draper (Physiotherapist), Brad Anderson (Strength & Conditioning), Jayson Ross (Analyst), Paul Minehan (Logistics/Masseur)