Premiership Rugby has agreed a new four-year deal with sports and live entertainment company AEG and US broadcast rights-holder NBC Sports which will commence with Newcastle Falcons and Saracens playing a regular season game in Philadelphia on September 16.
The round three encounter from the top division of English rugby union will see the Falcons give up a home game for the match at Talen Energy Stadium, home of Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise Philadelphia Union.
Premiership Rugby chief executive Mark McCafferty said: “Premiership Rugby is the best club league in the world and thanks to the support of our partners at NBC Sports, we are now developing a strong following in the USA. This new agreement with AEG will help take that to another level and this announcement is testimony to our collective ambition.
“The key to staging this match in such an impressive stadium has been the partnership we are announcing for the game with AEG and NBC Sports. AEG is the world’s leading sports and live entertainment company while NBC Sports is one of the world’s most prestigious media companies. This presents us with a powerful combination to help make this match a huge success.
“We are very thankful to the City of Philadelphia which has already given its full commitment to the success of the match and we are looking forward to working with them in promoting rugby in the community during the lead up to the big match.”
The first Premiership game in the US was played on March 12 last year, with Saracens defeating London Irish 26-16 at Red Bull Arena, the home of MLS franchise New York Red Bulls. The match was set to be the first of three London Irish games in the US, but the club has since been relegated to the second-tier Championship, a move that effectively ended the agreement.
The Falcons-Saracens clash will be sanctioned by USA Rugby, the sport’s governing body in the United States. AEG recently appointed former Bath captain Dan Lyle as the director of its new rugby division, and is keen to develop the sport in the US and globally.
Lyle said: “We believe our long-standing relationships with NBC and this new multi-year partnership with Premiership Rugby represents a meaningful next-step in developing the sport in the United States. Bringing world class teams and players to our shores complements the initiatives and priorities of USA Rugby, including broader exposure within our country of the game being played at the highest levels.”
Commenting on the game, Newcastle Falcons managing director Mick Hogan said: “This is an exciting opportunity which is commercially very good for the club, and enables us to further invest in our squad and in the stadium facilities at Kingston Park.
“It will allow us to grow Newcastle Falcons' brand, likewise for Premiership Rugby, and it presents a number of very positive commercial opportunities. We do appreciate some of our supporters will be disappointed by one of our regular home games being moved. We will be in touch with season ticket members and corporate sponsors directly to inform them of our compensatory offers.”