(Berkeley, California) 26 January 1998 -- The East Coast will see international rugby action this summer when Burlington, Vermont, hosts a Pacific Rim Rugby Championship match between the USA and Canada.
Organizers expect a capacity crowd of more than 6000 for the June 6 game, to be played at the University of Vermont's Centennial Field.
"We are pleased to be able to take international rugby to the Northeast," said US National Team General Manager and Head Coach Jack Clark. "Thousands of enthusiasts in this part of the country will get to see their National Team in action. We haven't had the opportunity to bring them a game before this, often because teams such as Ireland tour the US during our winter and that prohibits playing in the north."
The United States plays its two other home Pacific Rim matches against Japan (June 13) and Hong Kong (June 20) in San Francisco, returning to Balboa Park, where all of the Pacific Rim games were played in 1997 and 1996.
"We enjoy an enthusiastic following in California for which we are grateful, and Balboa is beginning to feel like home for us," said Clark. "We have good memories on this pitch. We've been a difficult team to defeat here."
The US are 5-2 at Balboa, with memorable wins such as last year's last-minute victory over Hong Kong and the '96 game against Japan, when the Eagles ran in more than 70 points. The two losses, against Wales and Canada, have been narrow, both decided in the last ten minutes of play.
The award of the Canada match is the culmination of several years work by the Burlington Rugby Football Club, which will help promote and stage the event. Because of its proximity to the Canadian border, the club had bid for earlier US-Canada fixtures, but arrangements had not come together until this year.
"The Burlington rugby club and the community have already given the National Team a great deal of support," Clark said. "We strongly believe the match will be a success thanks to the work they are devoting to staging and promoting the game."
Burlington is only a few hours drive from major cities such as Montreal and Boston, and organizers hope to draw Canadian fans to the match as well as Americans.
In 1998, the National Team's home matches will again be televised by Fox Sports Net and the International Channel, reaching approximately 55 million screens in the United States, more than ever before. In many areas the games will go to air on Saturday evening only hours after the final whistle, and they will receive frequent re-runs on various regional cable networks. US internationals are also broadcast in Great Britain by BSkyB.