Rugby, buoyed by an Olympic berth in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, recent collegiate championships and Sevens exhibition in Philadelphia among a string of recent successes, has been making inroads on the U.S. sports scene.
The next step? A matchup between the Team USA Eagles and New Zealand All-Blacks on Nov. 1 at Soldier Field in Chicago, for which more than 30,000 tickets were sold as the first day of ticketing was completed Monday.
"The sport is fast paced, hard hitting and the concepts of team and camaraderie are at the core of the game," explained Mike Principe, CEO of Legacy Agency, the exclusive worldwide commercial agent for the match.
The All Blacks will visit the United States for an international match for the first time since 1980. The Eagles have only met the two-time and reigning IRB Rugby World Cup champions three times since their inception over 100 years ago.
The aforementioned Collegiate Championships and Rugby Sevens matchup gave the sport some additional exposure, which Principe sees as another example of how the sport has grown.
"It serves to underscore the growing trend of rugby in the us and the desire of the dedicated, passionate fan for great content," he added, "and of the more casual sports fan, a memorable experience."
NBC will provide live broadcast coverage of the match in Chicago, which kicks off at 3 p.m. CT.
To those new to the sport, some opportunities exist to learn more. Besides visiting www.usarugby.org, Principe points to a match this Saturday in Sacramento, Calif., between the USA Eagles and their Canadian counterparts.
And the best may be yet to come, Principe feels, and Legacy's involvement is likely to only grow with it.
"We are not only big fans of rugby but also of USA Rugby and the superb leadership of its CEO, Nigel Melville," he said. "We look forward to the opportunity to working more closely with them in the years to come."
“We are very pleased with the tremendous interest in the match, and hope that those fans who want to join us November 1 don’t wait too long, as we have a limited number of tickets remaining after just one day of sales,” said Melville in a statement. “Monday was a great testament to the rising interest in the sport, and our match will be one that no sports fan will want to miss.”