Former NFL star Todd Gurley says NRL in Las Vegas will be a hit

28/11/2023
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NFL star says NRL in Las Vegas will help grow rugby in the US

Former Rams and Falcons running back Todd Gurley has given a glowing endorsement of holding NRL games in Las Vegas next year. 

News Insights

  • The 2024 NRL season will kick off with two matches in Las Vegas.
  • Former NFL star Todd Gurley says Las Vegas matches are a “wonderful” decision.
  • Gurley says the US is “a little bit behind with the NRL.”
  • Las Vegas matches could help the NRL grow in America.

Former NFL running back Todd Gurley is in Australia this week for the NFL Flag National Championships tour. He spoke at length with media in Coogee about the NRL’s upcoming fixtures in Las Vegas. The former LA Rams player told the media that he is excited for the matches and thinks it is great for the NRL. 

Gurley gives glowing endorsement

The NRL is heading to Las Vegas next March to kick off the 2024 NRL season. Manly Warringah Sea Eagles will first take on South Sydney Rabbitohs on March 3, then Brisbane Broncos will battle it out against Sydney Roosters to finish out the double header. Both matches will be played at the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, which can hold up to 65,000 fans.  
 
Todd Gurley believes all 65,000 seats will be filled for these matches. “I’ve seen it on Instagram and social media, and that’s pretty much how you get your outreach now,” said Gurley, “I feel like it’s definitely going to be sold out because it’s in Vegas and that’s a wonderful location to put it in.” 
 
The former NFL Offensive Player of the Year thinks the spectacle of the NRL in Las Vegas will draw in lots of last minute fans. “I feel like in America we’re a little bit last minute, so people will be like ‘I heard the rugby league is on so I better get some tickets’.” 
 
Gurley also believes there will be loads of Australian and Kiwi NRL fans coming to Las Vegas. He said having games in America gives “rugby league fans and everyone else an excuse to go to Vegas. It’s a new stadium, so it makes sense to play there because you don’t want these guys playing in some old, rundown stadium.” 

NFL international series the template for NRL 

As interesting as it always is to hear an outsider’s perspective on the NRL, hearing from an NFL player is especially intriguing since they are strangers to playing matches abroad.  
 
The NFL started its international series back in 2007 by playing select matches in England. The series has been an enormous success and has since been expanded. This year, the NFL played three matches in London and two in Germany. There are plans for even more matches abroad in the future.  
 
Gurley believes NRL matches in Las Vegas could be a similar success story, especially since the NRL is sending such high quality teams to the US. Unlike the NFL, who regularly sent poor teams like the Jacksonville Jaguars to play abroad, the NRL is sending some of the league's best.  
 
Broncos are among the favourites at the betting sites to win the NRL. Rabbitohs and Roosters are also near the top of the betting agencies odds lists. Sea Eagles are not contenders, but they are by no means a terrible side. American fans should be in for some good matches in March. According to Gurley, the NRL has a lot of work to do, so these good matches could lay a foundation for the future.  

Rugby league not known in US, says Gurley 

Rugby is not a household sport in the US. Even among those who do know what rugby is, they do not know what rugby league is, according to Gurley at least.  
 
Gurley says Americans are “a little bit behind with the NRL” and that the rugby Americans know is rugby union. “I’m going to speak for everybody on behalf of the United States when I say we don’t know what AFL is, but we do know what rugby is, but I think the rugby that we know is rugby union.” 
 
Gurley thinks that can be addressed though. “That’s why you have these games,” he said “You’ve got to start like this [with the games in Vegas]. You go over there every year and it’ll grow naturally.” 

We are probably decades away from the NRL being a major sport in the US, but who knows, these games could be the start of something special. 

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