USA Rugby and the San Jose Earthquakes announced Thursday that Avaya Stadium will play host to a World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup double-header on Saturday, July 18.
As someone who was forced to play rugby at school in England, often in sub zero temperatures, snow, or driving rain you'll forgive me if this news doesn't have me exactly jumping up and down yelling "All right. Woo-hoo, rugby, baby!"
Soccer was the game I couldn't wait to get home from school to play. In those days we had no organized kids soccer leagues, the only organized teams avaiable to me were the school rugby and cricket teams (ouch and yawn). We were forced organize our own pick-up soccer games in parks and on waste ground, and overcoming these hardships to play the game we loved created a powerful bond for the beautiful game.
So, it will be real interesting, at least for me, to sit in Avaya Stadium and see what I think of rugby all these years and all these miles away from the last contact I had with the sport.
I have a feeling that despite myself I'm going to really enjoy it.
The Pacific Nations Cup - a World Rugby tournament designed to expose Pacific Rim teams and players to a greater number of international test matches - features Canada, Fiji, Japan, Samoa, and USA. The 18,000-seat Avaya Stadium will host two PNC matches July 18, Canada vs. Japan and the USA Men's Eagles vs. Samoa.
"The Bay Area is recognized as one of the hubs for rugby in the United States and we designed Avaya Stadium with rugby in mind," said Earthquakes President Dave Kaval. "We are thrilled to bring USA Rugby back to the area and look forward to welcoming the rugby community to Avaya Stadium for the first time."
While there is a long history of international rugby in the greater San Francisco Bay Area, the match day in San Jose represents the first international tests in the Silicon Valley since USA hosted Ireland at Buck Shaw Stadium in 2009.
"USA Rugby is excited to return to San Jose and play at the brand new Avaya Stadium," said USA Rugby Chief Executive Officer Nigel Melville. "The area has a great rugby fan base and I know that supporters will look forward to coming out to see Canada, Japan, Samoa, and the USA all playing on the same pitch."
The USA Eagles will also travel to Sacramento to play at Bonney Field on Friday, July 24 as part of the Pacific Nations Cup. The matches in Sacramento feature a clash between Fiji and Samoa before another preview of a Rugby World Cup matchup in the U.S. versus Japan.
"San Jose is very proud to welcome international rugby back to the capital of Silicon Valley," said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. "We can't wait to welcome USA Rugby and the Pacific Nations Cup to the new Avaya Stadium for what we hope will be the first of many high-profile and prestigious rugby matches to be played in San Jose."
About USA Rugby
Established in 1975, USA Rugby is the governing body for the sport of rugby in America and a Full Sport Member of the United States Olympic Committee. Currently headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, USA Rugby is charged with developing the game on all levels and has more than 100,000 active members, with more than 35,000 playing collegiate rugby and 35,000 playing senior club rugby. Visit www.usarugby.org for more information.