LAFAYETTE, Colo. – The kickoff time for the second leg of the Rugby World Cup 2019 Qualifier between the USA Men’s Eagles and Canada at University of San Diego’s Torero Stadium has been set for 3 p.m. PT July 1, with an exhibition match featuring the USA Women’s Eagles and Women’s Premier League All-Stars to follow at 5:30 p.m. PT.
The aggregate winner of the Qualifier series, which begins in Hamilton, Ontario, June 24, will be placed in Pool C at Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan along with Argentina, England, France, and an Oceania 1 qualifier. The July 1 match in San Diego marks the U.S. National Team’s first test in Southern California in three years and will be the team’s final game of a four-test summer slate.
“Our Eagles have a chance to make history by qualifying as Americas 1 for the upcoming Rugby World Cup in Japan,” USA Rugby Chief Executive Officer Dan Payne said. “They will be coming home to finish the job in a beautiful venue that is sure to be lit by the Southern California sun, providing a perfect setting.
“The game is growing and thriving in San Diego, specifically at the youth and high school levels. That growth is a very influential factor in us choosing the area for this important match, which we hope will assist the great efforts of so many and add fuel to expansion and interest of the game in San Diego.”
The California sunshine will greet all four teams competing on the day and the thousands of fans in attendance, who will have access to limited free parking on the University of San Diego campus. Tailgating opportunities will be announced in due course, though a fan fest environment and multiple beer gardens will be accessible within the Torero Stadium gates.
While the men will attempt to finalize qualification for their World Cup two years out, the Women’s Eagles will play their final match before they travel to Ireland for Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 in August. Featuring several WPL players, the Eagles last played a two-test Can-Am Series in Chula Vista, Calif., earlier this spring. The chance for more game time one week into a planned residency stay at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center is irreplaceable as the Eagles finish a shortened, three-year “quadrennial” between World Cups.
“We are massively appreciative of the WPL All-Stars for helping us with our World Cup preparations,” USA Women’s Eagles Head Coach Pete Steinberg said. “The WPL is one of the best places for our players to play and improve and I am sure we will see a number of players suiting up for the WPL All-Stars that will be representing the Eagles in World Cups to come.”
The WPL All-Stars will be coached by New York Rugby Club’s James English and Oregon Rugby Sports Union’s Beckett Royce, who have already sent invitations to prospective athletes for the League’s first all-star team. Several candidates will be with the Eagles, but numerous All-Americans and National Team pool players will be considered for selection. The All-Stars will assemble in Southern California from June 28 in preparation for the July 1 match day.
Following the end of the 2016 campaign, the League expanded from eight teams to 10, affording more players the opportunity to compete in the country’s longest-running club competition. A 40-match regular season schedule will be announced shortly, culminating in the National Championship event in November.
“The standard of competition in the Women’s Premier League has never been better, and its growth is indicative of the women’s game nationally,” English said. “This is testament to the hard work and professionalism of coaches and players across the WPL and was evident to see at this year’s National Championship.
“We are excited for this opportunity to showcase and recognize some of the top talent seen in the WPL week in and week out. The All-Stars will provide more players with a platform to perform and experience competitive rugby at the top level, while sending the Women’s National Team to the World Cup in Ireland with a tough farewell test.”