Belfast Telegraph

USA here we come: Pro12 aims for the stars.... and stripes

Ulster could play Stateside in Pro12 league expansion

By Jonathan Bradley

PRO12 bosses have described early discussions over adding American teams to the competition as "very positive."

If the idea of seeing Ulster annually take on opposition from Boston or New York in league action seems far-fetched now, Martin Anayi, the PRO12's Managing Director, has said the huge Irish population across the Atlantic could soon see it become a reality.

Speaking at the league's 2016/17 launch in Dublin yesterday, he said: "It's in our (league's) DNA to be expansionist. It went from Celtic League to PRO12 to expand horizons. Take that philosophy, start to look to other markets that might work, and the US is definitely one of those.

"It's a huge population with broadcasters who are falling in love with rugby. If they get a taste, there's no reason why we shouldn't explore it.

"There is a lot of interest for the New Zealand (versus) Ireland game in Chicago in November. There's a massive Celtic interest and a massive Italian community. When our national teams play over there, it's a big success."

On when we might see such plans come to fruition, Anayi added: "It's hard to give you time-lines. We're just at too early a stage of discussion. The reality is that it may not get done.

"There are a lot of things that could not work out but it is a very positive discussion at this point in time."

Read more: Star sightings are everything as PRO12 prepares to chase the American dream

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