Quins and Wasps boldly take oval ball to Abu Dhabi
Thursday 06 January 2011
Wasps and Harlequins have confirmed they will play their forthcoming LV= Cup fixture in Abu Dhabi. The London rivals will be the first English clubs to stage a competitive match outside of the country.
The match, nominally a home fixture for Wasps, will be played under floodlights in a specially constructed 5,000 capacity stadium at the Emirates Palace hotel.
Wasps board director Lawrence Dallaglio said: "To be the first club to take a competitive game of rugby overseas really reflects Wasps' desire to try new things. We want to ensure that Wasps has a long-term future and it is steps like this that strengthen the club and develop a global brand.
"We know that there will be some disappointment for those fans that cannot travel, but we know our supporters want long-term success and stability and one-off opportunities like these can only help build our profile, appeal and reach."
The match will be broadcast live on Sky Sports and Wasps are hoping to appease season-ticket holders who cannot attend by staging an open day with players later in the year.
Wasps owner Steve Hayes and Dallaglio came up with the idea after visiting the region last year as part of their research into stadium development. Wasps and Harlequins have both had success in attracting big crowds to club matches at Twickenham.
Harlequins' Big Game 3 against London Irish on 27 December drew 74,212 and both clubs are keen to build on that with this initiative.
A club statement added: "Eager to push the boundaries, Wasps, in partnership with Harlequins and the LV= Cup tournament, take the first steps to promote rugby to a new overseas market by playing a competitive game abroad."
Rugby is not the first sport to embrace the concept. The NFL have staged regular-season games at Wembley Stadium for the last three years and the NBA are to follow suit, with games at London's 02 in March.
But there was a negative reaction when the Premier League proposed an additional round of league fixtures in cities around the world.
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