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Philadelphia fixture cancelled

Leicester Tigers have been forced to cancel a ground-breaking match in America this summer after national governing body USA Rugby refused to sanction the fixture.Tigers had been invited to play the first professional club fixture in the USA against the National Rugby Football League (NRFL) Rough Riders, with Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles, chosen as host venue this August.   Governing body USA Rugby, however, have refused to give their official approval and, therefore, the fixture has had to be been cancelled, despite tickets being on general sale for several weeks.   Leicester Tigers chief executive Simon Cohen said: “Rugby is a rapidly growing game in the USA and the appearance of the Leicester Tigers would certainly have helped to create a buzz around the sport, together with NRFL’s proposals for a professional game there.   “It is very disappointing that a fixture which would help to launch professional club rugby in the United States should be blocked by a national governing body charged with the development and growth of the game in their own country.   “Our experience in this case could lead you to question whether USA Rugby is more keen to protect its own commercial interests than to serve and promote the game of rugby as a whole in their country. That is extremely disappointing in a sport keen to expand its appeal throughout the world.”   Tigers were due to combine a period of pre-season training with community appearances and coaching sessions in the USA, taking top-flight European experience to one of rugby’s biggest growth markets, and climaxing with the NRFL Rough Riders fixture in Philadelphia.   Cohen added: “As well as the fixture against the Rough Riders, the club has been planning to take rugby into the community, building on the impact the Tigers had in hosting a rugby coaching camp in the USA last year.   “We have established very strong relationships with several universities and colleges who are keen to develop their rugby programme and we are keen to develop these further.”   Tigers are looking to retain a presence in the USA this summer and are looking at plans to work in the game’s grassroots in the country with coaching camps as well as investigating further links with potential elite athletes.   Any Tigers supporters who had had already bought match tickets or made plans to travel to Philadelphia for the Independence Cup fixture against the NRFL Rough Riders should contact the customer services team at Welford Road.