WASHINGTON — We’ve all been there: after a great night out, that one friend makes his round of goodbyes and then continues to linger before leaving. That friend is becoming RFK Stadium.
How many encores can one stadium–no matter how iconic–make before shuttering for good?
Apparently, one more, as RFK will re-open again on June 2 for a USA Rugby sponsored match between the South African national team and the Welsh national team.
This is the first trip to the U.S. for the South African “Springboks” since 2001, and both teams view it as an opportunity to grow their brands in the U.S.
“We have longstanding links with the U.S. with our partner Under Armour and it is great we are able to stage a match just down the road from their main facility in Baltimore,” said Welsh Rugby Union Group CEO Martyn Phillips in a statement.
Tickets for the game will be available for purchase on March 13. Meanwhile, South African rugby sees this as a chance to expand a “worldwide fan base.”
“The match in Washington allows us to take Springbok rugby to America and to potentially expand the team’s appeal to a very large audience,” South African Rugby CEO Jurie Roux said in a statement. “Our research shows that the Springboks have a growing worldwide fan base, and we see the match in Washington as an ideal platform to tap into a market that offers huge possibilities for South African rugby, in the exciting American sporting area.”
Good luck with that.
Rugby is a growing sport in the U.S., but still a distant footnote behind the traditional American sports of football, baseball and basketball. It even trails hockey, soccer and lacrosse for the next level sports with room to grow.
Regardless, rugby is on the upswing, and for one day in June, it could be the hottest ticket in town.
Last March, Las Vegas welcomed 80,000 spectators as part of its international rugby tournament, which featured 3,000 players on 260 teams. This is a different type of rugby event, but if they can draw even half of that number, it could be a sendoff that RFK Stadium really deserves (until the next one).