SANZAAR chief executive Andy Marinos explains why Europe could stage Rugby Championship games more often
The Rugby Championship is coming to London for the first time on Saturday 8 October with defending champions Australia taking on Argentina at Twickenham in a repeat of one of last year’s World Cup semi-finals.
That match could become the first of many, with SANZAAR chief executive Andy Marinos keen to stage more Rugby Championship fixtures in Europe – and London in particular. It’s a way to expose the tournament to a wider audience.
“We saw how positive the World Cup was in the UK and we feel our game is about taking it to as many supporters as possible,” says Marinos. “It’s a good opportunity for extra exposure and bringing a meaningful Rugby Championship game to London is something that will continue to promote rugby at a moment when its popularity is continuing to grow.
“The style of play in the Rugby Championship is a very exportable commodity to further increase the attractiveness of the sport. People want to see a free-flowing style and the game is moving in that direction.”
Regular-season NFL and NBA games are now staged in London and Marinos sees the UK capital as a key market for international sporting showpieces.
“It’s testament to what a big sporting arena London is,” he says. “While the World Cup was on last year, the NFL were kicking off a game (between Jacksonville and Buffalo) in semi-final week. London is the destination for big sporting events and it’s a unique opportunity to show what a lot of skill and talent there is in rugby.
“Australia and New Zealand have already taken international rugby abroad to the USA and to Hong Kong and people will continue to look at new markets, but Europe and the UK has such a strong rugby heritage and we at SANZAAR would like to continue that approach.”
Adam Ashley-Cooper’s hat-trick of tries sealed a 29-15 win for Australia over Argentina at RWC 2015 last October and support for both sides should be strong again this year.
As Marinos says: “Argentina have been making one of the fastest rises in international rugby and with many of their players in Europe there’s always going to be a strong affiliation for them.
“Australia, New Zealand, South Africa all have huge ex-pat communities in the UK so these games will be attractive to them.”
Tickets to Argentina v Australia at Twickenham are available at www.ticketmaster.co.uk from £45 for adults, £25 for children (U16) and a family package (2 adults & 2 children) for £115. (Booking fees apply).
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