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“We are an English league”: Premiership Rugby rules out overseas expansion

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Premiership Rugbys chief executive has ruled out staging more than one game per season abroad.

Englands top flight has played one fixture in the United States for the last two years but Mark McCafferty said there were no plans to expand that arrangement.

“I see us continuing to build on the US situation that has been developed over the last few years. But I dont see us going beyond that,” he told City A.M.

We are an English league and it will be played in England. We want the attraction and reach of that to continue to grow. The reach is from an English base to a global audience.

The most recent Premiership fixture in North America saw Saracens beat Newcastle 29-7 in Philadelphia seven months ago. It was attended by a shade over 6,000 spectators – just a third of the stadiums capacity.

Eighteen months earlier almost 15,000 watched Saracens beat London Irish in New Jersey, the leagues first regular-season foray into the US.

Later in 2016, Ireland recorded their first ever victory over world champions New Zealand in front of 62,000 fans – a record attendance for a Test match in the States – at Soldier Field, Chicago.

Read more: Jamie George: Starting a business has benefited my rugby

US cousins

“Every time we work with our US cousins we are reminded and constantly surprised about how much experience and knowledge they do have,” he said.

Premiership Rugby signed a new multi-million pound, four-year sponsorship deal with Gallagher last week, ending an eight-year association with UK insurance behemoth Aviva.

The new partnership officially starts on 1 July and will see a rebranding to Gallagher Premiership Rugby in time for next season, which starts on 31 August.

“The lead guys [at Gallagher] completely understand the connection between rugby and business,” said McCafferty.

Although less well known in the UK than Aviva, Gallagher is one of the largest commercial brokers in Britain with 4,500 staff. Founded in 1927, the firm operates in 33 countries and employs 27,000 people.

Read more: Aviva-derci – Premiership Rugby gets a new sponsor

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