American great Dan Lyle is relishing the challenge of bringing Aviva Premiership Rugby to Philadelphia when Newcastle Falcons take on Saracens at Talen Energy Stadium on Saturday September 16.
The 45-times-capped former USA international (pictured) is well-acquainted with England’s top flight after making 82 league appearances for Bath during his six seasons in the West Country, the back-row forward also forming part of their 1998 Heineken Cup winning side before finishing his career with Leicester Tigers.
“Basically, I’m the event director,” said Lyle, who is director of match organisers AEG Rugby and a familiar face on American screens in his role as an analyst for NBC Sports’ Aviva Premiership coverage.
“It’s very busy at the moment putting everything in place. Each club has their little quirks and things that they need to be done in a particular way, but that’s good. This is a full-blooded Aviva Premiership game and they’re coming here to win, and while it does keep me busy it’s fantastic that they’re taking the game so seriously.”
Tickets for the match are already on sale by clicking here, with adult seats available from $38 and juniors from $12.
“It’s a great chance for Newcastle Falcons and Saracens to put themselves out there in a relatively new market place for them, to build further value for their clubs and be part of this major event,” said Lyle.
“It’s not something that many clubs are able to do and it will really make them stand out to fans over here. It’s a pretty cool thing for them to be involved with and it’s always exciting to be a pioneer in any walk of life.”
While America has already hosted an Aviva Premiership game two years ago between Saracens and London Irish in New Jersey under a different promoter, this season’s will be the first organised by AEG in what Lyle believes can become a successful long-term initiative.
He said: “This is year one for us in terms of AEG co-ordinating things. Year two will be better than year one, but we want to make this a great spectacle and really give the American public a top-quality experience.
“It’s kind of a nice bonus that Newcastle and Philadelphia are quite alike as cities in many ways, and the excitement is starting to build there with billboards going up, radio advertisements being played and awareness spreading about this event. We have the existing rugby fans and the ex-pats on one hand, and we’re really spreading the word to a larger audience.
“Newcastle Falcons v Saracens is the main event, but before that we have Oxford University playing the All American Collegiate team.
“Newcastle’s Nick Civetta is a former All-American and this is a big deal for us, because the college system is how we traditionally develop our athletes. People already know the prestige around Oxford University which speaks for itself, and from our side the Collegiate XV is really a major fixture which people will come out and support. As well as that we will have lots of activation with local junior players, and it’s a major chance for those guys to reach out and touch the elite end of the sport.”
Hospitality packages are also available for the Philadelphia fixture. For details please click here.
Newcastle Falcons’ season ticket members who bought their season tickets before the end of May are entitled to compensation for the loss of the home fixture from Kingston Park Stadium. For details of compensation options please click here.
In addition, the club will be hosting a big screen showing of the match at Kingston Park with some free food and drink laid on for season ticket members. Details of this event will be announced in due course.