PHILADELPHIA, PA – No, there are no actual cookies, but the sense of pleasant anticipation is what I am after.
This summer, it has been tough for me to forget the looming New Zealand All Blacks vs USA Rugby Eagles match in Chicago. I know it is still just a tick over two months away and that the outcome of the match is not in doubt. Still, ticket sales look to be going well. That means that one fear -a nearly empty stadium – has passed.
One of my cousins married a Kiwi and lives in New Zealand now. When I saw them this summer, they were pretty clear that there is real excitement around the match from the New Zealand end. A “Fly with the All Blacks” tour package is sold out If New Zealanders are excited, I’m excited and without apology.
To help prepare for the match, the plan is to post a Kiwi Guide to Rugby in America. If you think there are things our visitors (in person or virtual) should know, please share.
Additionally, I will be writing a few other pieces to help get ready for November 1. This game will be the biggest rugby event on American soil to date. It is big enough that I am actually really excited for the America’s Rugby Championship (ARC) in October because it will be the natural ramp up for a lot of players. Coverage of the ARC will be part of the lead up.
After the Eagles play in Chicago, they are off to Europe for three games in three weeks: Romania, Tonga, and Fiji. An interview with the IRB is in the works to discuss why the Eagles are playing non-European teams in Europe again.
Aside from the Eagles, I remain interested in how data is used in professional rugby.
My hope for the 2014-2015 Aviva Premiership season is to track every kick taken. Using The Rugby Blog forum, I put out a call for assistance in that effort but didn’t find any volunteers (though readers can still volunteer by contacting us). What I did find, however, thanks to a reply, is a site already running and providing great data. Goalkickers is absurdly awesome. The site, which has a Southern Hemisphere focus so far, has new statistics to measure kickers. Did you know that Marnitz Boshoff was the kicker in all of Super Rugby who added the most value to his team (through kicking)? I didn’t! Over the course of the season, he scored 34 points more than would be expected given the difficulty of his kicks. Check out the site.
If my tracking of English Premiership kicking is consistent, I will be sharing the data with Goalkickers.
And here is hoping that the Atlantic Rugby Premiership provides quality streaming or match videos.
It will be a busy fall of opinions, analysis, and anticipation.
That’s it for now. Feel free to comment below, please look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter@:RugbyWrapUp, Junoir Blaber, Nick Hall, James Harrington, Jamie Wall, Jaime Loyd, DJ Eberle, Cody Kuxmann, Karen Ritter, Jake Frechette and Declan Yeats, respectively.