PORTSMOUTH welcomed the USA rugby team today ahead of their first match in the Rugby World Cup.
The ceremony at HMS Nelson Ward Room in Portsea marked the start of the squad’s campaign.
The team’s first clash is against Samoa in Brighton on Sunday, September 20.
The ceremony began with a performance of ‘World in Union’ by the choir from Queen Elizabeth’s School from Wimborne Minster, Dorset.
There were welcome speeches from the chief executive of World Rugby, Brett Gosper, and the chief executive of Rugby Football Union, Ian Ritchie.
Each member of the team was presented with a tournament cap and Rugby World Cup 2015 participation medal.
Afterwards the team posed for pictures by HMS Victory.
England’s campaign begins at Twickenham on Friday, September 18 when the team takes on Fiji. Kick-off is at 8pm.
City leaders said they would be supporting the American team during its campaign.
The Lord Mayor, Councillor Frank Jonas, joked it was ‘perfect timing’ as some of his family have emigrated across the pond. He said USA would be his second team.
Cllr Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council, said: ‘It’s another thing putting Portsmouth on the map.
‘My vision is to make Portsmouth a city that’s able to host world-class sports events.’
She added: ‘When team USA are playing, I will support America.
‘If they play England, I will support England.’