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The recent Ireland-USA Test match at Red Bull Stadium, Harrison, New Jersey, represented the first international big match rugby game in the Metropolitan area in seven-years. Although not standing room only, the stadium seemed filled, yet revealing many seats shy of capacity at 25,000.
The spectators included thousands of Irish rugby fans, most sporting the familiar national green jersey. Additionally, lots of the Eagle supporters wore their club or college rugby jerseys.
Many people tailgated outside of the stadium, arriving early to party before the 5 p.m. kickoff. Inside, the merchandise and beverage stands were packed with prospective buyers.
As for the game, a young Irish development side outplayed the USA, demonstrating a higher rugby skill level, especially in the rucks, and among the backs. The Eagles never established a plan of attack on offense, which resulted in few, individual breakaways not followed up by other players.
Eleven of previously capped Irish team members were in New Zealand playing for the British and Irish Lions. Interestingly, three of the USA starters were born in Ireland.
Perhaps the key finding from the match indicates that Red Bull Stadium can serve as a venue for international rugby. The sightlines were excellent throughout the stadium. It’s easy to access by road or rail
Down-the-road, a possible sevens event?