Mar 08, 2016
Chris Wyles sets his sights on New Jersey
AS a USA international, Chris Wyles is taking an extra special interest in Aviva Premiership Rugby’s first visit to the States this Saturday.
And he is adamant that the league’s arrival across the pond can help American fans to connect with what has become the fastest-growing sport in the country.
Wyles grew up in Pennsylvania before coming over to the UK as an 11-year-old – and has since represented his country of birth at three Rugby World Cups.
So Wyles is well placed to know how the word of rugby can continue to spread in America, and he insists Saracens’ ground-breaking game with London Irish in New Jersey at the Red Bull Arena will be another huge step forward.
“I hope that there can be more games played and they can build on that, because what I’d say about American fans is that once they’ve seen a rugby game they’re obsessed with it,” he said. “We’ve seen that with the Las Vegas 7s too and the crowd goes mad.
“We’ve had some previous experience of the All Blacks coming over and playing at Soldier Field, and the Wallabies too.
“So there’s been some great fixtures and they’ve just announced that the All Blacks are coming back to play Ireland and the USA will be playing New Zealand Maori.
“From my perspective I just want USA rugby to continue to grow because the fans are so passionate and there’s a huge amount of room for development in the States.
“With the amount of amazing stadiums in the States, if rugby continues to grow then for the Premiership to play over there every year would be a no-brainer really. The Premiership should do everything they can to get more games over the States.”
Amid the excitement there is a still very serious game of rugby to be played – with Saracens and the Exiles both currently fighting at opposite ends of the table.
Indeed, both sides will be licking their wounds after coming off defeats in Round 15, and Wyles believes hosts Irish will be buoyed by the crowd behind their backs.
“London Irish will take a lot of energy playing overseas and tapping into that heritage and being somewhere different,” Wyles added. “But historically we’ve also shown that we can perform when going away, and in different parts of the world. Whatever happens it’ll be a great contest and a great event.
“This is the kind of game that, because of the unusual aspect to it, where you are in the table is irrelevant – it’s a one-off game. We certainly won’t be taking them lightly.
“It will be very cool to go over and play in the Red Bull Stadium with Saracens. We’ve been on a few trips to the States in the past but we haven’t actually played there, so it’d be great to go back with my teammates and do that.”
For tickets to this historic match go to londonirishusa.com