The All Blacks can turn ‘sports fans into rugby fans’ – Todd Clever

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Speaking on the All Blacks Podcast, the 76-cap USA Eagle fondly remembered the All Blacks first visit to Chicago in 2014 and hopes their Test against USA at FedExField this weekend can have a similar impact on fans in the United States.


“I remember the hype back in 2014,’ Clever said. “The All Blacks did such a great job promoting it and we were able to sell-out Soldier Field. To run out and face the haka in front of that massive American crowd was great. The people definitely saw an amazing All Blacks team back then, and they are going to see one this weekend too.”


Clever was captain of the USA Eagles in 2014 when they went down 74-6 to an All Blacks team featuring a roll-call of All Blacks greats including Dan Carter, Kieran Read, Sam Cane, TJ Perenara, Sonny Bill Williams, Cory Jane, Israel Dagg, Julian Savea and Keven Mealamu.


Now a part of the set-up at the Major League Rugby champions the LA Giltinis, where he serves as the Head of Strategic Partnerships, Clever is keen to see rugby continue to make strides in the United States and thinks the sports holds a lot of appeal to the general public.


“We want fans to come early and stay late. A rugby game is just 90 minutes long. Two 40-minute halves and then a 10-minute half time break. Then it’s done. There are no TV timeouts, no quarters, there’s no anything else – that’s rugby.




“We really want to engage fans into what else is happening at the stadium, whether that’s tail-gating before or a concert afterwards. We are testing and getting a lot of data and trying to figure out how we can make the experience a whole day of rugby and make it a family affair.”


Clever said if the game at FedExField is anything like the 2014 Test in Chicago, then the effects on rugby in the United States would be long-lasting.


“We can really turn the sports fan into a rugby fan after seeing how physical, how skillful and how amazing the All Blacks are during that 80-minutes. Then after that 80-minutes, it’s how they present themselves, how gentlemanly they are, how they give back and make an impact on everyone they touch,” Clever said.


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