Leicester to get Rough Ride in first pro game in U.S.

LONDON (Reuters) - English powerhouse club Leicester Tigers will this year take on combined American side Rough Riders in Philadelphia at Lincoln Financial Field, home to NFL team the Eagles. Billed as the Independence Cup, the game is the first elite rugby match played in the U.S. by a professional American team and will mark the formation of the National Rugby Football League (NRFL). The NRFL, the first professional rugby championship in the U.S., will commence in 2016 with six to 12 sides spread across the continent. "We are excited to showcase the inaugural Independence Cup at Lincoln Financial Field," Eagles president Don Smolenski said in a statement. Leicester, 10-times English champions, will play the NRFL's Rough Riders, a team of former NFL athletes, college football players and collegiate, club and international rugby players on Aug. 8. As well as helping promote professional rugby in the U.S., the match offers a chance for Leicester to raise the profile of the English Premiership in a potentially lucrative market. "The name of Leicester Tigers travels across the world and we're delighted to have been invited to witness the appetite for the game in the USA at first hand," Tigers chief executive Simon Cohen said. "Rugby is making massive strides there and the fixture against a team selected from the National Rugby Football League will provide an excellent platform for the home-based players and also for our squad as they prepare for a new season." (Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Tony Jimenez)