RFU boss Stephen Brown wants NFL games to return to Twickenham next year Rugby NFL

Rugby


The Rugby Football Union is keen to host further NFL games at Twickenham and discussions are ongoing over whether the sport will return to the home of English rugby next year.

The RFU penned a three-game deal with NFL in 2015 and it started with one game in 2016 and a further two earlier this year.

With White Hart Lane scheduled to host two matches from 2018 onwards, and Wembley the NFL’s long-term venue since the international series kicked-off in 2007, the RFU has no guarantee the sport will return to Twickenham next year.

Stephen Brown, the RFU CEO, says “there’s a chance” the NFL will come back and he is keen to continue discussions.

“We had a real success with NFL, for the two games we had here,” Brown said. “They were really complimentary about our offering and we stepped up the quality of that. They have very high standards and that’s good for us, as well.

“So they’re keen to do business with us going forward so we’re going to put ourselves in the best possible place to get more games here.

“It probably won’t be more than a couple a season going forward but we’re very keen to keep that in our core portfolio of events here.”

The RFU would need to pen a new deal as the previous agreement has now concluded but Brown was impressed with the NFL’s “high standards” and said it is “great commercially” to have the games at Twickenham.

Stewards had Disney training before the matches, with the NFL audience slightly different to those who journey to the stadium for rugby.

But Brown would want assurances over the type of paint used after the American football markings were visible in England’s three November Tests.

“[RFU groundsman] Keith Kent is still scarred by that… we need to have an agreement with the right type of paint that’s used which did stay with us for quite a long time afterwards,” Brown said. “It’s starting to grow out now but that’s something we need to specify more clearly heading forward.

“We spoke to Wembley about it and they’ve been much more specific because they had similar problems in previous years. It does linger for quite some time.”

Brown is keen to explore whether Twickenham would have the room to put on a similar pre-match event to NFL’s tailgating and was impressed by the matchday experience.

“What works well with them is the fan interaction, the family nature of it,” Brown said. “I saw a bit of that in Samoa, there was more of a family audience here which is a nice balance.

“We can do that in different games throughout the season. I’d like to encourage that.

“The quality of what they do is expected by the fans and ours should and do too and anything we can do to raise the bar on that.”



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