Chester, Pa. – USA Rugby is coming back to the City of Brotherly Love. The Men’s Eagles will make their return to PPL Park to take on Harlequin F.C. on Sunday, August 30. The world-renowned Harlequins, who play in the top-level of English rugby, the Aviva Premiership, will be making their first trip to Philadelphia in the team’s history.
Men’s Eagles Head Coach Mike Tolkin is especially excited about returning to PPL Park, as he knows just how raucous it can be for rugby. “Philadelphia is a fantastic sports city,” said Tolkin, “[PPL Park] provided an outstanding venue in 2013 when we played the Maori All Blacks. The stadium was full and the fans were loud and very supportive, which gave a huge boost to the team.”
The Men’s Eagles last played at PPL Park in 2013 in front of a sold-out, standing room only crowd. The match between the Men’s Eagles and Maori All Blacks was the largest non-PhUnion event in stadium history.
When asked why USA Rugby would be returning to Philadelphia, USA Rugby CEO Nigel Melville reiterated how important the area’s love for rugby is to the growth of the game. “This is truly a rugby hotbed,” said Melville. “We had a sold-out stadium full of spirited fans that wanted to see their Eagles take flight. Philadelphia loves their rugby, and we’re excited to be back.”
Harlequins Chief Executive David Ellis added: “We have been working on this with USA Rugby for some time and everyone at the Club is hugely excited about the tour to Philadelphia and this ground-breaking fixture with the USA.
“Harlequins is a globally recognized club and this match will help drive our global ambitions. Rugby in the USA is a sleeping giant and we are looking forward to being a part of this unique occasion as we begin to help develop the sport in America.”
The match date also has major significance. Not only will the Men’s Eagles be playing on the same weekend as USA Rugby’s 40th anniversary, but it may also be the last U.S. appearance for the Eagles prior to their departure for the Rugby World Cup. “Harlequins represent one of the best known and strongest clubs in the Premiership in England and the world,” said Tolkin, “so the match in August will provide a formidable challenge to our side just before the Rugby World Cup.”
The Men’s Eagles qualified for the Rugby World Cup after defeating Uruguay in a March qualifying match. Their first match in the Rugby World Cup will be against Samoa on September 20, 2015 in Brighton, England.
Harlequins will be making their first trip back to the United States since the 1980s. Known as “Quins” to their loyal supporters, the club has had incredible success in recent years. After winning the European Challenge Cup in 2011, Harlequins went on to secure their first Aviva Premiership title in 2012 and then the LV= Cup in 2013.
DHL, the Official Presenting Sponsor of USA Rugby, will also be the title sponsor of the event. “DHL is thrilled to help bring top-tier rugby to Philadelphia and sponsor this exciting match. We’re the official express logistics providers for the both the Eagles and Harlequins because both of these first-class organizations demonstrate speed, passion and determination – all qualities that resonate very strongly with the DHL brand,” said Greg Hewitt, VP and General Manager of DHL Express. “So while we won’t officially take sides, we know the match is a real win for both DHL and the sport of rugby in Philadelphia and beyond.”