USA Rugby fans who can’t wait for next month’s 2015 World Cup can watch live online Sunday as the Eagles — as the United States National Rugby team is known — face English Aviva Premiership club Harlequins in what is scheduled to be the next-to-last warm-up match for the USA before opening their World Cup campaign in Brighton, England, on September 20.
USA qualified for the 2015 Rugby World Cup by defeating Uruguay in a two-legged qualifier last year. But in the six-nation Pacific Nations Cup earlier this summer, the Eagles placed fifth, ahead of only Canada. The showdown against London-based Harlequins, the Premiership’s 2012 champions who placed eighth on the table last season, will see them look to sharpen their game in hopes of staging a respectable World Cup run.
To find out how to watch the USA Eagles vs. Harlequins rugby World Cup warm-up match live online, see the streaming link in the final paragraph of this article. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. Eastern Time on Sunday, August 30, at 18,500-seat PPL Park in the Philadelphia suburb of Chester, Pennsylvania, noon Pacific Time.
PPL Park, primarily home to the Philadelphia Union of Major League Soccer, has become an increasingly frequent host to major rugby events, as well, as the USA Rugby organization attempts to grow a fan base for the action-packed, hard-hitting cousin of American football in the United States.
The USA Eagles last played at PPL Park two years ago, when they dropped a close 20-19 decision to New Zealand’s Maori All Blacks.
“We look forward to welcoming Harlequin to the USA,” USA Rugby boss Nigel Melville said in a statement announcing the match. “This fixture is an exciting opportunity for both teams. Philadelphia has become a rugby hotbed and we are excited to be back there.”
Harlequins chief David Ellis called the sport of rugby “a sleeping giant” in the United States.
According to a 2013 study by the Maryland-based U.S. Trends in Team Sports research group, American participation in rugby grew by 81 percent from 2008 to 2013, even as the number of athletes playing American tackle football dropped by more than 21 percent.
USA Rugby is planning a final pre-World Cup warm-up, with the Australian national team as the opposition, possibly at Chicago’s Soldier Field, though details have yet to be finalized.
To find out if the USA rugby team can get past Harlequins and set the stage for a successful World Cup tournament in England next month, watch Sunday’s match live online on ESPN3, the online-only channel in the ESPN network. ESPN3 will stream the USA Eagles vs. Harelquins match live online at this link. ESPN3 is free to subscribers of most major internet service providers and many minor ISPs, as well. For a full list, check this link.
[Image: Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images]