Falcons excited for Philadelphia trip

Tuesday 27 June 2017

Director of rugby Dean Richards speaks about ground-breaking fixture against Saracens.

Newcastle Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards believes that the second Aviva Premiership Rugby regular season match in America can be a ‘stepping stone to rugby greatness’.

The Falcons will play European champions Saracens on September 16 in Philadelphia in the first game in a new four-year agreement with AEG – the world’s leading sports and live entertainment company – and in conjunction with broadcasters NBC Sports.

The game will be played at the 18,500 capacity Talen Energy Stadium – the ground of MLS side Philadelphia Union – will be a home game for Newcastle and the hope is for a sell-out.

Saracens were the away team in the inaugural overseas fixture when they beat London Irish 26-16 in March 2016 in the Red Bull Arena in New York in what was a landmark game for Aviva Premiership Rugby.

And Richards is excited about taking his Falcons side to the sports-mad city of Philadelphia.

“It is a stepping stone to rugby greatness.” Richards said. “In a lot of respects spreading our brand across the world is something we would like to do. “We have started doing that with the broadcasting games to so many different countries.

“We are probably getting into in excess of 170 million different households around the world. It is exciting for us to be going over to the States and it is something we are looking forward to.”

A key factor in getting the new four-year deal in place was the role of US Broadcaster NBC Sports who have a multi-year deal in place to show Aviva Premiership Rugby – which started last season by broadcasting over 40 games on their channels and app.

And Commercial Director at Premiership Rugby, Dominic Hayes, believes the game being held in Philadelphia is a perfect fit.

He said: “I think Philadelphia is the perfect place to host this game. It is a sports mad city and a place that has a rugby heritage.

“It is also very easy to get to as it is within striking distance from New York.

“It is a fantastic venue as well and just the right size and we want to focus on getting to a sell-out, over the years we want to really build the event and establish it as part of the fabric in Philadelphia sporting culture.

“NBC have been a really strong partner in terms of establishing a presence for Premiership Rugby in the States

“Television is the rifle shot for the rest of the business and drives familiarity.

“The next step is to bring a game to the States and so the fans can see a regular season match in all its glory live and direct from the USA.”

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