The Runner Sports

Benefits Of This Weekend’s Anglo-American Rugby Tests To Extend Far Beyond The Pitch

This weekend, America braces itself for another British Invasion, and this one is likely to be far more violent than that of the Beatles in the mid-1960s.

On Saturday, USA Rugby, in partnership with AEG Rugby, NBC Sports, and the Aviva Premiership, is to play host to the Saracens Rugby Football Club, Newcastle Falcons RFC, and Oxford University RFC in a double-header in Philidelphia’s Talen Energy Stadium. Oxford will first take on the Men’s Eagles Collegiate All-Americans at 2:30 pm ET, with the Premiership exhibition following at 5:00 pm ET. These partnerships represent what is hoped to be a mutually beneficial relationship that brings both rich English resources to a relatively arid American rugby environment, and opens ticket sales for the Premiership participants to an only recently-tapped market. 

Speaking to the topic of the partnerships, AEG Rugby director and former Premiership captain with Bath rugby, Dan Lyle remarked, “All of the partners involved share the ambition to grow rugby in America and we believe this will happen, not only through the match between the Falcons and Saracens, but with this game-changing grassroots community program that has the potential to change people’s lives.” As if two quality matchups featuring the best collegiate rugby talent in America and 7 veterans of the British and Irish Lions tour wasn’t enough, this weekend represents opportunities for further development of the fast-growing American sport at the lower rugby levels.

The coaching staff of both the Falcons and the Saracens have conducted clinics during their visit stateside allowing them to bring their tried-and-true coaching structures and strategies to their American comrades. Remarking on his experience at one of these clinics, Jake Frechette of RugbyToday expressed some initial skepticism but later was impressed, “With the entirely positive experience of the workshop,” and was pushed, “toward believing that success can happen around the match itself, even without a full stadium.” Also organized along with these coaching development workshops are referee and player clinics put on by the visiting experts, providing American rugby members a chance to rub shoulders with some of the greats.

To round it all off, the Aviva Premiership and Friends of the British Council are offering all-expenses-paid scholarships to 30 members of the American rugby community to travel to England and participate in continued development under the tutelage of various Premiership academies.

Whether you’re a fan of good-old-fashioned quality rugby or looking to hone an assortment of skills associated with the sport, there is something for everyone with this partnership and the matches to be seen Saturday. Those hoping to tune in to the Oxford vs. All-American match may do so through The Rugby Channel, while the Saracens vs. Newcastle will appear on NBC Sports.

Eric Sweigert

Eric Sweigert

Currently a teacher-athlete up in Northern California, I was first introduced to rugby in college (go Aggies) and haven't looked back. Nowadays you can find me teaching American History and writing about a sport that provided many good memories and more than enough stitches.
Eric Sweigert