Tripleheader blockbuster for Black Ferns and Maori All Blacks
· ALLBLACKS.COM· Rugby Weekend
History will be made when the Black Ferns join the Maori All Blacks at Chicago's Soldier Field later this year.
The World Champion Black Ferns will play for the first time at New Zealand’s favourite rugby ground in the United States – Chicago’s Soldier Field – as they join the Maori All Blacks, the USA Eagles, Italy and Ireland in a huge triple-match bonanza in November.
USA Rugby and TLA Worldwide, (TLA), and host city partners Chicago Sports Commission (CSC) and Soldier Field, have today announced that world-class international rugby will again return to Soldier Field in Chicago for the latest edition of The Rugby Weekend.
The iconic NFL stadium will host three captivating international rugby matches over the course of one day, featuring the USA Rugby Men’s and Women’s Eagles taking on the popular Maori All Blacks and the champion Black Ferns respectively. Six Nations Champions Ireland return to Chicago to take on their Six Nations rivals, Italy.
The match programme for Soldier Field on Saturday 3 November opens with the USA Women’s Eagles up against the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup Champions, the Black Ferns, followed by Ireland v Italy and culminating in a home-team advantage for the USA Men’s Eagles against the Maori All Blacks.
The USA Men’s Eagles last faced the Maori All Blacks during The Rugby Weekend 2016 in front of over 18,000 fans at Toyota Park. The squad has started 2018 in spectacular fashion going undefeated to win the Americas Rugby Championship (ARC) becoming the first nation in the tournament’s history to win the Grand Slam, and look to carry this momentum into The Rugby Weekend.
The USA Women’s Eagles will be seeking revenge against the Black Ferns, a team that defeated them in 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup, before the Black Ferns were eventually crowned World Cup winners.
The match will be an historic one for the Black Ferns who will run out on North American soil for the very first time, reinforcing the rapidly growing interest in women’s rugby worldwide.
New Zealand Rugby Chief Rugby Officer Nigel Cass said: “This is going to be a very special weekend for rugby and for New Zealand. Our teams, sponsors and supporters have enjoyed wonderful experiences with previous fixtures featuring the All Blacks and Maori All Blacks in Chicago, so we are excited to be able to bring our Women’s Rugby World Cup champions, the Black Ferns, to be part of such a wonderful spectacle of rugby.
“These matches will be a fantastic way to kick off end of year campaigns for both teams.”
In a day that is set to be a celebration of USA Rugby and the sport’s increasing participation across the country, host city partners CSC and Soldier Field look forward to the landmark event.
“We are excited to welcome back premier rugby to the great city of Chicago this fall. Rugby has established a home at Soldier Field and Chicago due to the incredible success of the past three marquee matches. The Chicago Park District has a thriving rugby program and it’s marquee events like this that provide the support for our youth to participate in the numerous programs we offer throughout Chicagoland,” said General Superintendent and CEO of the Chicago Park District, Michael Kelly.
“Chicago is a world-class sports city, and rugby has become a staple on our major events calendar,” said Executive Director of the Chicago Sports Commission, Kara Bachman.
“We’re thrilled to welcome back Ireland, the Maori All Blacks and USA Rugby, and proud to host Italy and the first women’s international test match at Soldier Field,” Kara Bachman added.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel expressed his excitement about the return of The Rugby Weekend to Chicago.
"Chicago is an unparalleled sports town with an unmatched track record of hosting international sporting events," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
"Fans from around the world will be inspired by Chicago's cultural attractions, remarkable restaurants and love of rugby”, Mayor Rahm Emanuel added.
The last time Ireland came to Chicago, it was for The Rugby Weekend 2016, which produced one of the greatest rugby moments in history. Ireland claimed their first win over the All Blacks in 111 years in front of a crowd of over 62,000 fans at Soldier Field.
The Rugby Weekend 2018 will see Ireland return to the site of their historic victory, only this time they arrive as reigning 2018 Six Nations Champions after completing the Grand Slam reaching No.2 in World Rugby’s World Rankings. Their opponents are a highly entertaining and physical Italian National Team, commonly known as the Azzurri, coached by the highly respected former Ireland international Conor O’Shea.
“USA Rugby is thrilled to help host and participate in yet another iconic international rugby event coming off the heels of the much-anticipated Rugby Sevens World Cup in San Francisco this July. The Rugby Weekend provides an incredible sports fan experience in one of the greatest venues and sports towns in the world. We are especially excited to open the November tripleheader with a historic showcase of some of the best women’s rugby in the world,” said former USA Rugby National Team Player and Rugby International Marketing CEO, Pam Kosanke.
Tickets will go on-sale at 2:00pm (CST), Tuesday 15 May (7:00am Wednesday 16 May, NZT) in an exclusive pre-sale for Chicago Bears and Citibank members, for an exclusive period of four days and two days respectively. Additionally, all ticket purchasers of The Rugby Weekend 2016 will be given a two-day window commencing 2:00pm (CST), Friday 18 May, (7:00am Saturday 19 May NZT) to purchase tickets.