SPHERE OF IN­FLU­ENCE

NZ Rugby World - - Outside Influences -

CHICAGO 2014 AND 2016 With AIG on board as a ma­jor spon­sor it was in­evitable the All Blacks would end up play­ing a test in the US.

The in­sur­ance group wanted to show the US what the All Blacks could do. It was de­cided that any game had to be played at an iconic sta­dium and it had to be against the US Ea­gles. There would be no play­ing a World XV as was orig­i­nally pro­posed.

The Chicago Bears were able to ac­com­mo­date the test in early Novem­ber and Sol­dier Field was sold out – 61,000 tick­ets – within hours of tick­ets go­ing on sale.

The All Blacks re­turned two years later to play Ire­land. Again tick­ets sold out im­me­di­ately partly be­cause there is such a strong Ir­ish con­nec­tion and pop­u­la­tion in Chicago.

DENVER? The All Blacks had all but agreed to play the Wal­la­bies in Denver 2009. The city was try­ing to build it­self as a sport­ing mecca and USA Rugby is based in Colorado.

But mid­way through the year the global re­ces­sion bit hard and the pro­moter pulled out, send­ing the Bledis­loe to Ja­pan.

LON­DON 2017 The All Blacks were look­ing for an ex­tra fix­ture in Novem­ber 2017 and while they had mul­ti­ple o ers, they chose to take on the Bar­bar­ians at Twick­en­ham in Lon­don. The game will cel­e­brate the fa­mous old club’s 130th an­niver­sary.

BARCELONA? The prospect of play­ing Ar­gentina at the world fa­mous Nou Camp, the home of Barcelona Foot­ball Club, is one that the All Blacks would find hard to re­sist.

BERLIN? The All Blacks have had sports pro­mot­ers try to take them to Berlin pre­vi­ously. The Ger­man cap­i­tal has the in­fra­struc­ture and sta­dia to ap­peal and rugby is a grow­ing sport.

UNITED ARAB EMI­RATES? The UAE has an ap­petite for host­ing ma­jor sports events and there has been spec­u­la­tion of late that the French are keen to take a game there soon and their pre­ferred op­po­nent would be the All Blacks.

HONG KONG 2008 AND 2010 Af­ter pro­longed dis­cus­sions with the Aus­tralian Rugby Union, agreement is reached that the All Blacks should play a fourth Bledis­loe Cup test against the Wal­la­bies on neu­tral ter­ri­tory in 2008.

Hong Kong is deemed the best venue and Na­tional Sta­dium sells out – 40,000 tick­ets quickly – with most of the tick­ets snapped up by ex-pat Ki­wis and Aussies.

They re­turn two years later un­der the same terms, but this time only 25,000 peo­ple turned up.

SHANG­HAI? Is China, with its grow­ing in­ter­est in sevens, go­ing to be­come a ma­jor rugby mar­ket? Has a huge econ­omy and the All Blacks could sell an in­cred­i­ble num­ber of replica shirts there.

TOKYO 2009 AND 2013 All Blacks played Wal­la­bies in fourth Bledis­loe Cup clash of 2009 in front of 57,000 at the Olympic Sta­dium. They re­turned four years later to play Ja­pan, win­ning 54-7 in front of 27,000 at the Prince Chichibu Sta­dium.

The All Blacks have al­ready an­nounced they will be play­ing Ja­pan again in 2018 to help pre­pare them for the fol­low­ing year’s World Cup.

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