HONG KONG, China – USA Rugby announced Saturday Heathrow Express, the premium Heathrow Airport-to-central London train service, as an official partner - just hours after booking a berth to the IRB Rugby World Cup 2015 (RWC) in England next year.
The Eagles beat Uruguay 32-13 in Atlanta Saturday in the return leg of their RWC qualifier, having drawn the first leg 27-27 in Montevideo Saturday, March 29. Yesterday’s win sees America join South Africa, Samoa, Scotland and an Asian qualifier in Pool B of the competition.
Nigel Melville, chief executive of USA Rugby, said: "Rugby is one of the fastest-growing team sports in the U.S., with around one million Americans currently involved. Qualifying for the 2015 Rugby World Cup will see U.S. interest in rugby boom like never before.
"Bringing a UK-based partner like Heathrow Express on board will help support the development of our national teams and the growth of rugby in the U.S., and support our 2015 Rugby World Cup campaign as well as the development of the Eagles as a global sporting brand. It is also the quickest and most comfortable way for fans to get into the heart of the 2015 Rugby World Cup’s host city."
Heathrow Express is the gateway to central London, connecting with Paddington station, from which other train links run to Twickenham and other RWC stadia.
Today’s announcement of a partnership across the 15-aside and seven-aside forms of USA men’s and women’s rugby supports Heathrow Express' intent to grow its American customer base, and broadens its existing relationship with rugby.
The U.S. is Heathrow Express’s largest non-UK market. Seventeen percent of the six million people a year who currently use the luxury rail-air link are Americans, mainly from the east coast.
Keith Greenfield, Heathrow Express managing director, said: “We are thrilled to be partnering USA Rugby, who I’d like to congratulate on their qualification for the 2015 RWC.
“In 2014 Heathrow Airport is set to welcome 9.3 million Americans. The challenge for us is to let American business people and holidaymakers know about our premium train service before they arrive in England. Partnering the mighty Eagles is part of our plan to do that.
“Americans tend to hail taxis when they arrive at Heathrow. But if they’re going into central London, our premium, non-stop service gets them there far quicker, for far better value and in a far greater degree of comfort. As interest in rugby grows on the other side of the Atlantic, we hope the 2015 RWC will see even more Americans coming to London to help us roar on the Eagles.”
Under the terms of the sponsorship deal, Heathrow Express logos will appear on the back of Eagles players' shorts and shirts.
Today’s announcement was made in Hong Kong, where the USA Rugby Men's Eagles Sevens team is competing in the IRB HSBC Sevens World Series.