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Shalom Suniula serving from a ruck. Abel Barrientes photo

Ireland versus New Zealand and the USA against the Maori All Blacks in Chicago the first weekend of November was confirmed this week by USA Rugby. The organizers are dubbing the back-to-back matches, "The Rugby Weekend". The Eagles take on the Maori All Blacks Friday Nov. 4 at Toyota Park and the World Cup champions face the Irish the next day at Soldier Field. 

“We are looking forward to another fabulous weekend for rugby in the United States with our return to Chicago in November,” said USA Rugby CEO Nigel Melville. “The city and its fans have shown the world how passionate they are about the sport, and we think this weekend will again take the game’s popularity to another level.”

The last time the All Blacks took to the pitch in the United States, a record crowd of over 61,500 filled Soldier Field to watch them drub the USA 74-6. The last time the Maori All Blacks visited, in 2013, they beat the Eagles 29-19 in front of 18,500 at a sold out PPL Park in Philadelphia. 

“We have very fond memories of playing in Chicago in 2014,” said New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Steve Tew. “We really appreciated the efforts of the city in rolling out the welcome mat for rugby. We know American fans had a very special experience and we expect a whole new group of fans to enjoy what will be a unique showcase of top class rugby over consecutive days.

“The Maori All Blacks play an exciting brand of rugby and are fantastic ambassadors for our culture and our country, so this is a great way to kick off 'The Rugby Weekend' before the All Blacks take on Ireland the following day,” he said.

Ireland is the reigning RBS 6 Nations champion, a title the team has held 12 times outright and shared eight times.

“We are delighted to be involved in 'The Rugby Weekend' and look forward to playing the World Champions in the great city of Chicago,” said IRFU Director of Commercial and Marketing Padraig Power. “Irish Americans will relish seeing the Ireland Rugby team contribute further to the development of the game of rugby in the U.S., complimenting the wonderful growth of the game to date.”