BARACK Obama could be coming to Gloucester after the USA Eagles qualified for the Rugby World Cup next year.
Their victory over Uruguay confirmed an October appearance at Kingsholm and city leaders will welcome fans from across the Atlantic - including the US President.
“We may well invite Mr Obama,” said Gloucester City Council leader Paul James.
“We certainly have to ask and of course he would be a very welcome guest, as will all fans of the American team who come to support the Eagles.”
It will be the second time that the Eagles have played at Kingsholm - they were given the All Black treatment in a heavy pool match defeat in 1991, almost 24 years to the day that they will run out again at the famous ground.
The city has many historical links with the USA which city tourism chiefs will be keen to exploit.
And former Cherry and Whites director of rugby Nigel Melville will make a very welcome return, as USA Rugby’s chief executive.
“It’s massive for the club, the supporters and the city to have the USA qualify and come to Gloucester,” said Bob Rumble, chairman of Kingsholm Supporters Mutual.
“The interest in the game of rugby union and in the world cup in the United States is huge - much bigger than it has been before.
“We will be very keen to welcome as many of them as we can - and of course we will be delighted to see Nigel Melville again.”
Mr James said the city will be pulling out all the stops to make sure visitors from the USA make the most of their time in Gloucester - a city not short on links with the USA.
“There are a lot of significant connections between Gloucester and the USA, and we will be keen to capitalise on those and give our American guests a visit to remember,” he said.
The Star Spangled Banner, the first electric telegraph sent between Britain and the USA, and the Declaration of Independence all have a Gloucester angle.
Former president George W Bush played at fullback for Yale University, while another, Bill Clinton is believed to have slotted in to the front row while studying at Oxford, and Mr James said they are likely to get an invite too.
Americans coming to the city for the first time may well want to try out some traditional Gloucester pub grub, or the staple of post match entertainment at a curry house but there will be some offerings with flavours closer to home.
“We will be delighted to welcome USA fans to Ed’s Easy Diner,” said acting manager of the American-themed restaurant at Gloucester Quays, Tommy Kosakowski.
Back on Tuesday, October 8, 1991 the USA team was mainly made up of collegiate enthusiasts who simply couldn’t match the ‘professionalism’ of the New Zealand All Blacks in the amateur era but now the national team features many stars of European rugby including Northampton flanker Samu Manoa and Biarritz paceman Takudzwa Ngwenya.
Whether the so-called fastest player in world rugby, Carlin Isles, will be able to show his 10.13 seconds 100 metre pace remains to be seen, as he’s not in the current pool that the squad will be selected from.
One Eagle - full back Luke Hume - tried out for Gloucester Rugby earlier this season and he now plays for Narbonne in France.
The USA Eagles will play Asia 1, highly likely to be Japan, on Sunday, October 11, 2015. Kingsholm will host four matches during the World Cup - Tonga v Georgia at noon on September 19, Scotland v Asia 1 at 2.30pm on September 19, Argentina v Georgia at 5pm on September 25, and the USA match.
GLOUCESTER'S AMERICAN CONNECTIONS
John Stafford Smith (1750–1836), was the son of a Gloucester Cathedral organist and wrote the music for The Anacreontic Song, which became the tune for The Star-Spangled Banner.
Barnwood-born physicist Sir Charles Wheatstone (1802–1875), developed the electric telegraph and linked Europe and North America for the first time.
Down Hatherley’s Button Gwinnett (1732-1777), signed the American Declaration of Independence and was president of Georgia and died from wounds suffered in a duel. He was baptized in St Catherine’s Church, Gloucester and attended The King’s School.
George Whitefield (1714–1770), one of the founders of Methodism, was baptised at St Mary de Crypt church and went to the Crypt School. A friend of Benjamin Franklin, he co-founded Pennsylvania University.
RUGBY V AMERICAN FOOTBALL - SPOT THE DIFFERENCE
Rugby players really are that size – American footballers are covered in padding.
Rugby players have to attack, defend, kick, tackle and do everything asked of them for 80 minutes. American footballers do one or the other and then head off for a sit down.
The average annual salary for an NFL player is $1.75m (£1.05m). Most rugby players get a couple of pints and a packet of pork scratchings (although the professionals tend to get a bit more than that. Two packets).