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Nam Y. Huh, Associated Press
New Zealand All Blacks men’s national rugby team midfielder Conrad Smith passes a ball to a teammate during their practice in Bridegview, Ill., Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014. The USA Eagles will play the New Zealand All Blacks men’s national rugby team Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014 at Chicago's Soldier Field.

Rugby union will make its strongest claim for the attention of a U.S. audience when the Eagles host the World Cup champion New Zealand All Blacks on Saturday in a rare meeting on American soil.

The test match is expected to attract a capacity crowd of 61,500 at Chicago's Soldier Field, amounting to almost three times the previous record crowd for a rugby match in the United States: 20,181 watched the U.S. Eagles play Ireland in Houston last year.

More importantly for the profile of rugby, the match will be broadcast to a potential TV audience of millions, many who may be seeing the sport for the first time.

The extra exposure gives rugby the chance to reach a vast new audience a year ahead of the World Cup and two years from its return to the Olympics.