IRFU says they are open to another Chicago showdown with New Zealand

IRFU CEO Philip Browne has revealed Ireland are open to another showdown with New Zealand in Chicago, writes Simon Collings.

Ireland defeated the All Blacks 40-29 at Soldier Field in Chicago back in November, in what was a landmark match for rugby in America.

The contest was played in front of a capacity crowd of over 60,000, a record attendance for a rugby match in America.

And when asked if he would be open to another clash in Chicago with the All Blacks, Browne replied: “Definitely.

“It is not something we would do every year, I think we just need to be careful.”

Due to their diaspora community, Ireland have a growing swell of rugby fans in some of America’s cities – such as Chicago.

It is estimated around 35m people currently live in America, whose ancestors can be traced back to Irish heritage.

The IRFU believe that is helping US Rugby to grow the game, while since November 2016 they have also been working with the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.

Under the agreement, the IRFU and the university share knowledge and expertise and develop joint projects in areas including player development, coaching and conditioning, sports medicine and psychology.

Ireland’s close ties with Notre Dame makes their stadium another viable location for a match with New Zealand and indeed Browne admits he is open to the idea of that too.

“Notre Dame is an incredible place. It has a stadium on the South Bend, which is in the middle of nowhere, and it has a capacity of just over 100,000,” said Browne.

“It has been full for every football match for 40 something years. Wouldn’t it be nice to have New Zealand in the stadium at Notre Dame? 100,000 people?”

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