Clubs will free US players to face New Zealand


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American players based in the Premiership will be released for the US Eagles’ game against world champions New Zealand on 1 November.

The match, which will be played at the Chicago Bears’ 61,500-capacity Soldier Field home, falls outside the International Rugby Board’s autumn Test window.

Premiership clubs would not have been obliged to release non-English players, but Premiership Rugby confirmed an agreement with US Rugby that players would be made available.

Northampton forward Samu Manoa, Saracens’ Chris Wyles and Leicester back Blaine Scully are among those likely to be part of the Eagles’ plans against the All Blacks. And the news has been welcomed by the US Rugby chief executive, Nigel Melville, the former Wasps and Gloucester rugby director.

“This is a significant milestone in the development of the game in the USA,” he said. “We will be playing the world champions in an iconic football stadium, in front of a record 60,000 capacity crowd with a live broadcast via NBC with a reach of over 115 million homes in the USA.

“It is a huge opportunity for our players, coaches and fans and we appreciate the support of Premiership Rugby regarding player release.

“The other three matches in November [against Romania, Tonga and Fiji] provide opportunities for some of our younger players to play for the Eagles and to stake their claim for a place in the 2015 Rugby World Cup.”

Premiership Rugby chief executive Mark McCafferty said: “As we help grow the sport in the USA, it is essential to support a match of this quality, which has clearly captured the interest of the American supporters.”

The game will be the All Blacks’ first competitive appearance in the US  since 1980.