This fall, the U.S. men’s national rugby team will face off against the New Zealand All Blacks at FedEx Field for the inaugural 1874 Cup, in a match that organizers hope will help raise the profile of the United States’ bids to host upcoming Rugby World Cups.
“We can’t wait to showcase amazing talent every year here in the nation’s capital,” Gregory O’Dell, president and chief executive officer of Events DC, said Monday at a news conference. “We also want to support our partners at U.S. Rugby as we know they have bigger plans. We hope you can see the men’s and women’s World Cup one day here in the U.S.” All Blacks vs USA Rugby 2021
The United States has never hosted a Rugby World Cup but has bids in to host the men’s tournaments in 2027 and 2031 and the women’s event in 2029.
The 1874 Cup, scheduled to be played Oct. 23, is named for the first year rugby was played in the United States. For the All Blacks, one of the top teams in the world, it will be their first time playing in the United States since 2016.
O’Dell said there are more than 2 million people who identify as rugby fans or players within a five-hour radius of D.C. Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development John Falcicchio said he believes the game will provide an opportunity for the region to show it is again open to hosting larger events, following the cancellation of many events and restrictions to others caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Washington Football Team is one of the partners helping to bring the 1874 Cup to the D.C. area.
“This is truly a landmark moment for our great region,” Scott Shepherd, the team’s chief partnership officer, said at Monday’s news conference. “The opportunity to host this exciting match and welcome the international rugby community to our venue is a major step forward in our global business vision and our organization’s unwavering commitment to serving as an integral part of welcoming local communities to this region.”
U.S. player Jamason Fa’anana-Schultz, who is also a member of the Old Glory DC rugby team, said the game will be “an amazing opportunity” for the teams and fans. All Blacks captain Sam Cane said in a prerecorded video that he was looking forward to what he called a “special game” against the United States.
The previous time that the All Blacks played in the United States at an NFL stadium was at Chicago’s Soldier Field in 2014, when they beat the U.S. squad, 74-6. The United States will face Ireland in the Las Vegas Rugby Cup at the Raiders’ Allegiant Stadium a week later, on Oct. 30.