Chicago tripleheader 'Rugby Weekend' involves Maori All Blacks and Black Ferns
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 04: The Maori All Blacks perform the haka before the Intenational Rugby Match between the USA Eagles and the New Zealand Maori All Blacks at Toyota Patk on November 4, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

The Maori All Blacks will join the World Champion Black Ferns in matches against the USA Eagles, prior to Ireland v Italy in a huge tripleheader ‘rugby weekend’ to be held in November at Soldier Field, Chicago.

The Rugby Weekend returns to the US, with three international rugby matches in one day;

•    Soldier Field, Chicago. Saturday November 3
•    USA Eagles men v Maori All Blacks
•    USA Eagles women v Black Ferns
•    Marquee match – Ireland v Italy

USA Rugby announced via media release, that world class international rugby will again return to Soldier Field in Chicago, for the latest edition of The Rugby Weekend.

The match programme for Soldier Field on Saturday 3 November opens with the USA Women’s Eagles up against 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup Champions, the Black Ferns, followed by Ireland v Italy and culminating in a home-team advantage for the USA Men’s Eagles against the Maori All Blacks.

Maori All Blacks to continue recent history of US Eagles match-ups

The USA Men’s Eagles last faced the Maori All Blacks during the 2016 Rugby Weekend in front of over 18,000 fans at Toyota Park. They also had a tremendous clash in November 2013. Those clashes will lead to another classic Team USA v Maori All Blacks fixture in 2018.

With each side having a history on the field, the two nations synergy off the field is beneficial. Sponsors Adidas prepare each countries jersey, so fans can expect a commemorative edition jersey. That may apply to both the Maori All Blacks v US team, as well as the Black Ferns fixture.

The USA Women’s Eagles will be seeking revenge against the Black Ferns, a team that defeated them in the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup, before the Black Ferns were eventually crowned World Cup winners.

The match will be an historic one for the Black Ferns who will run out on North American soil for the very first time, reinforcing the rapidly growing interest in women’s rugby worldwide.

Black Ferns look to build strength of women’s game

New Zealand Rugby Chief Rugby Officer Nigel Cass said “we are excited to be able to bring our Women’s Rugby World Cup champions, the Black Ferns, to be part of such a wonderful spectacle of rugby.

“These matches will be a fantastic way to kick off end of year campaigns for both teams.”

In a day that is set to be a celebration of USA Rugby and the sport’s increasing participation across the country, the 2018 edition of the Rugby Weekend should continue to build a following. “Chicago is a world-class sports city, and rugby has become a staple on our major events calendar,” said Executive Director of the Chicago Sports Commission, Kara Bachman.

“We’re thrilled to welcome back Ireland, the Maori All Blacks and USA Rugby, and proud to host Italy and the first women’s international test match at Soldier Field,” Bachman added.

To complete the tripleheader; after the Maori All Blacks and Black Ferns matches against the hosts, the International theme continues. Ireland v Italy will confront each other, in a ‘warm up’ offshore fixture, a year out from the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

The last time Ireland came to Chicago, it was for The Rugby Weekend 2016, which produced one of the greatest rugby moments in history. Ireland claimed their first win over the All Blacks in 111 years in front of a crowd of over 62,000 fans at Soldier Field.

The Rugby Weekend 2018 will see Ireland return to the site of their historic victory, only this time they arrive as reigning 2018 Six Nations Champions.

Ireland v Italy will celebrate two nations long Chicago history

Both nations have played an incredible part in building the city of Chicago. Each has seen immigrants leave their countries of birth, to establish new homes in the ‘new world’. The rich history of Irish and Italian cultures is what makes Chicago a multi-cultural society, in the 21st century.

“USA Rugby is thrilled to help host and participate in yet another iconic international rugby event coming off the heels of the much-anticipated Rugby Sevens World Cup in San Francisco this July. The Rugby Weekend provides an incredible sports fan experience in one of the greatest venues and sports towns in the world.

“We are especially excited to open the November tripleheader with a historic showcase of rugby union,” said former USA Rugby women’s team player and Rugby International Marketing CEO, Pam Kosanke. The Maori All Blacks will challenge the US Eagles men’s team, before the women’s team meets the New Zealand Black Ferns.

By all accounts, it will be an event. Virtually, a full day of rugby, climaxing with Ireland facing Italy in a full International test match.

Tickets will go on-sale to the general public at 10:00am (CST), 21 Monday May at www.therugbyweekend.com.

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