Flood primed for ‘unique’ opportunity in Philly
NEWS: Toby Flood’s return to Newcastle Falcons was perfectly timed to be involved in the Philadelphia match against Saracens, and he believes it will provide an ideal bonding opportunity for the squad in the city nicknamed "The City of Brotherly Love".
The flyhalf returns to the Falcons after nine years away in which he won three Premiership Rugby titles with Leicester Tigers and spent three seasons in France. And the 31-year-old will have plenty of time to get to know his new teammates when they fly over to the USA for the second ever Premiership Rugby match to be played overseas.
It’s an exciting prospect for the Falcons academy graduate who is eager to see the sights in Philadelphia, as well as the Talen Energy Stadium where the Saracens match will be played.
He said: "We will be there from Monday onwards and spend a lot of time on the training pitch, then in the hotel, we will have all our meals together, we will probably go to one or two museums.
"I think those things are really important. The uniqueness from our point of view to go across and do something completely different.
"I am not back in pre-season training yet, but I am sure the guys are already talking about how they are excited about this in the changing room and it’s one you don’t want to miss out on.
"Everyone will be busting a gut to get on this trip because it is a chance to experience something completely different....That is why we play the game, to experience these unique events, and hopefully it is something we will grasp with both hands,"
Newcastle will be the ‘home’ team for the fixture in Philadelphia against the two-time European Champions on September 16. The match in Pennsylvania is part of a new four-year agreement with AEG – the world’s leading sports and live entertainment company – in conjunction with NBC Sports.
Tickets are already on sale for the match in September, and while it may seem a long way off for some players who are still on their summer break, Flood knows the excitement is already building.
"It was mentioned by a few of my friends on WhatsApp about how lucky we were to have the opportunity to go and play in America. It is a huge and exciting fixture," he added.
"You are going to play in a sport that is still in its infancy in America and it is a chance for us to go and show what we are about and what rugby is about, that’s a really positive thing.
"I think any chance we get to go and showcase our sport is a good thing and also it being a ‘live’ fixture means a huge amount to both teams,"
Having recently appointed former Bath Rugby back rower and captain Dan Lyle as the director of new rugby division, the company has made a strong commitment to the promotion of Rugby both in the US and globally. Lyle is one of the key men behind the multi-year agreement and the match being staged in Philadelphia.
He said: "We are excited by the continued development and trajectory of rugby at all levels in the US, from the huge surge in playing numbers to an ever-growing appreciative and knowledgeable fan-base. We believe our long standing relationship with new multi-year partnership with Premiership Rugby represents a meaningful next-step in developing the sport in the United States.
"Bringing World Class teams and players to our shores complements the initiatives and priorities of USA Rugby, including broader exposure within our country of the game being played at the highest levels."