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What to make of the 48,000 plus attendees who came to Twickenham last Saturday to view a Test match between Argentina and Australia? The famed English stadium’s capacity is 82,000, so the crowd represented a tad less than sixty-percent of a sellout. These teams had played almost a year ago in the semi-finals of 2015 Rugby World Cup, when, at that time, 80,000 came into Twickenham.
Admittedly, the Wallabies and the Pumas are southern hemisphere teams not possessing the long-term competitive rivalries of the Home Nations (England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland) sides, nor the historical competition from France. Still, the thinking was that a first-class Test match between two nations in the top ten World Rugby ranking would have attracted a higher tally of British-based rugby enthusiasts.
The segue is to the upcoming All Blacks versus Ireland match scheduled in Chicago on November 5. When New Zealand came to Chicago last year, Soldiers Field sold 61,500 tickets in a Test match against the USA Eagles. This time though, the game will be against Ireland, and not the American national side. (Of note: New Zealand narrowly beat the Irish 24-22, the last time these fifteens met in 2013.)
The question unanswered is whether American rugby fans will see the Maori versus Eagles match, Friday, November 4, at the 30,000 Toyota Stadium AND also see the All Blacks v. Ireland contest on Saturday?
How large is the potential domestic market for international Tests without an American side and also the interest in seeing two British or Irish professional rugby team sides who might play at some venue in the States? How interested would you be to see Saracens against Munster in a local Major Leage Soccer Stadium?