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Las Vegas Rugby Cup on Halloween weekend at Allegiant Stadium

Updated June 22, 2021 - 5:56 pm

Allegiant Stadium keeps the hits coming as officials announced Tuesday that the U.S. men’s national rugby team will take on Ireland in a Halloween weekend matchup at the $2 billion stadium.

The Las Vegas Rugby Cup will take place Oct. 30, marking the first match of its kind at the nearly year-old stadium.

Team USA CEO Ross Young said the event, the facility and the city were tailor-made for one another.

“We’ve got an incredible global audience of fans, and linking an event like this with those types of people with an incredible city like Las Vegas and an absolutely special stadium like this is a huge opportunity for us,” Young said.

The rugby showdown marks the latest in a string of large-scale events for the $2 billion facility, which went a year without fans during Raiders games and had only a smattering of fans for two UNLV football games.

“I remember early on in the (stadium) process we looked at some numbers and everyone quotes the 43 million people that come to town and 6 million of them are international,” Raiders President Marc Badain said. “We hope to grow that number ,and we hope events like this can bring some new fans and new travelers to Las Vegas and let them see what this city can offer and then they’ll come back.”

The event falls on an off week for stadium tenants, the Raiders and UNLV football, so the holiday weekend made a perfect time for the match, Badain said.

Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, the Irish national team wasn’t able to make the news conference but provided a statement on playing in the new stadium after previously playing in the Rugby Sevens at Sam Boyd Stadium.

“Over the past few years, we have had some incredible experiences playing in the U.S., including beating the All Blacks for the first time in our history,” said Andy Farrell, Ireland coach. “We are looking forward to the game in October and to reconnecting with Irish Rugby fans in the U.S.”

With the explosion of sports in Las Vegas, first with the Golden Knights and then the Raiders, events like the Rugby Cup are cementing the city’s place as not only the entertainment capital of the world but a leader in sports as well.

“We talk a lot about the growth of sports in Las Vegas and we talk about Las Vegas’ ascension to become the sports capital of the world,” said Steve Hill, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority CEO. “We’re there, we are there. This event itself is going to show that.”

All involved said they hope the match can be a springboard for rugby in America and possibly help the U.S. land the sport’s largest event.

“As we try to grow the game in the U.S., it’s a huge opportunity to show what we can do,” Young said. “We put our hand up to try and host the World Cup during the next two cycles in 2027 and 2031. Really showcasing to the world a venue like this and an event like this that I have no doubt will be incredibly well supported.”

With the event falling on Halloween weekend, it will fit right in with rugby faithful, as many already dress up in the crowd.

“Well, we’re playing Ireland on Oct. 30. Halloween is a pretty big event,” said Team USA player Nate Augspurger. “I think we can encourage everyone to show out with their outfits and just be a part of the spirit. Rugby is a contagious game. It’s going to be fast-paced, and I’m sure everybody’s going to love it, especially when they dress like bananas and blue men or whatever they come as.”

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.

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