Wales to head stateside for one-off fixture

Credit: PA

The Welsh Rugby Union have completed a deal for a one-off summer fixture against South Africa in the United States ahead of their summer tour to Argentina.

First Minister Carwyn Jones is in the USA and has visited the South African Embassy today to put the final details on the game scheduled for June 2018.

It was fantastic to be with the South African Ambassador to the US, Mninwa Johannes Mahlangu, to announce this exciting fixture between our two great countries.

Wales and the Springboks have a huge global fan base and I am confident this clash of titans at Washington's world famous RFK stadium will help raise the profile of rugby in America. I, for one, can't wait until 2 June.

– Carwyn Jones AM, First Minister

The game will take place in the US capital Washington and follows on from Ireland’s similar exercise in Chicago against the All Blacks in 2016.

While the game will act primarily towards Wales’ on-pitch preparations for Argentina it’s significance for rugby in the country cannot be overlooked.

Talks have been ongoing over the potential inclusion of a US-based side in the Pro 14 which has now been expanded to include two South African sides as part of an attempt to grow the leagues’ status around the world and taking international rugby to the country could well be seen as an attempt to further that process.

This is an exciting fixture for the WRU and for the national squad. It enables us to add a third fixture into the squad's schedule as they continue with their preparations for the 2019 RWC and for the union it is a great opportunity to showcase Wales and our game in the capital of the United States.

The opportunity to expand the already great Welsh support base and Welsh brand is very exciting for us as especially in such a large demographic and audience as the U.S.

We have long standing 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.

– Martyn Phillips, CEO Welsh Rugby Union Group

The game would also point towards a significant commercial opportunity for Welsh rugby to broaden its horizons in the USA.

On top of any financial incentives the game itself would bring it may also be seen as an opportunity to further raise their game’s profile through major US clothing manufacturer Under Armour who currently provide Wales’ kit.

It will be the second major Welsh game in the country in 2018. The Football Association of Wales last week confirmed that they will take the national side to Pasadena, California, on 28 May to meet Mexico in a one-off fixture, following on from their trip to China for a four team friendly tournament in March.

The fixture will be the first of three summer tour tests in the Americas.

Following the game against the Springboks, the squad will travel south to Argentina for two tests against the Pumas. Those fixtures will take place in San Juan on 9 June and Santa Fe on 16 June.