WASPS legend Lawrence Dallaglio has hailed “history in the making” after the club confirmed a groundbreaking move to play this month’s LV= Cup match with Harlequins in Abu Dhabi.
The fixture on Sunday 30 January is the first competitive domestic game between English sides to be played overseas, and will be staged at a purpose-built temporary stadium in the grounds of the Emirates Palace hotel.
“I’m massively excited,” Dallaglio told City A.M. “Without overstepping the mark, I think this is history in the making. It has tremendous benefits for Wasps and rugby as a whole.”
Wasps and Quins insist any direct earnings will be negligible but hope to raise brand awareness and, long-term, attract commercial interest.
All parties are keen to stress this is a one-off, for now at least, but admit that a successful trip could lead to more English domestic games being played on foreign soil in future.
“Anything is possible,” added Dallaglio. “At this moment I see it more as a one-off, but who knows, relationships build, there might be other opportunities to take the game back to Abu Dhabi or elsewhere.”
Harlequins chief executive Mark Evans said other clubs could follow suit, adding: “If it goes well, I’m sure a lot of the stakeholders will have a look at it and say ‘maybe next year Leicester might go and play Bath in Hong Kong’. Why not? What about South Africa?”
The hotel’s stadium will hold between 5,000 and 10,000 spectators, depending on demand, which will be gauged when tickets go on sale today. Kick-off is at 7:15pm (3:15pm GMT) and Sky will broadcast the match live.