What on earth happened here?
New Zealand has signed a five-year deal to help promote rugby in the United States, the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) announced on Wednesday.
The NZRU said they would offer assistance with coaching and commercial development as well as exploring opportunities for “high-profile” matches in the U.S.
“The rugby world wants to see the game grow in the United States and we’re taking concrete steps to help USA Rugby,” NZRU chief executive Steve Tew said in a statement.
Despite the enormous population and wealth in the U.S., the Eagles have struggled to make an impact on the international stage in rugby.
They have managed to win just two matches at the World Cup since the tournament began in 1987 and are unable to get regular games against the sport’s traditional powers.
Rugby also gets little public recognition in the U.S.
because of the mass appeal of gridiron, basketball and baseball, but USA Rugby chief executive Nigel Melville said he was hopeful the deal with New Zealand might help change the tide.
“We welcome New Zealand’s help as we work to tap the potential in the United States,” he said.
“The coaching resources are an immediate benefit, but longer term we’d like to look at joint sponsorships, merchandise agreements and anything that can benefit both unions.”