Tommy Bowe confident there is a market in the U.S. for PRO14 rugby

Bowe believes the PRO14 should capitalise on the American market. Photo By Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Ireland and Ulster utility back Tommy Bowe would support an American team joining the PRO14, as long as it didn't diminish the quality of rugby.

After seeing the Cheetahs and Southern Kings join the expanded league, seven weeks after the end of the Super Rugby season, reports this week suggested a side from the U.S. could be next.

And Bowe, who made his competitive return against the Cheetahs following six months out with a broken ankle, is open to the possibility of playing Stateside.

"With the speed that the South Africa deal came through, I probably can see it happening," Bowe told ESPN.

"I have a few friends who are over in America, and they play rugby, they talk about the popularity of it and how it is growing more and more.

"I think that the game of rugby for American consumers, the spectators over there would really embrace it, it's definitely a market I'm sure World Rugby would like to get into.

"If the PRO14 were able to get a team or two I think it would be a real positive again. But as with South Africa, it is a right bit of travelling and how that would work, I don't know.

"But as long as the standard of rugby doesn't diminish, I think it would be a good thing."

The popularity of rugby in the U.S. has risen over the last decade, with Newcastle hosting their Aviva Premiership clash against Saracens in Philadelphia on Saturday.

Bowe believes the number of Irish immigrants on the East coast, couple with the appetite among American fans, provides a good base for potential growth for the PRO14.

"There is any amount of Irish people over there," added Bowe. "I heard that with the English Premiership, the numbers even in America alone were right up there with the amount of people who watched it in England, there is definitely a hunger for rugby over there.

"Not just the expats, it is something that you would hope that you could get the Americans into as well. Certainly if you look at the USA Sevens, Canadian Sevens, and even the ladies rugby, they are all very strong, so it is definitely a growing sport over there."

The news comes just two weeks into the new season -- which PRO14 CEO Martin Anayi proclaimed "a bold and exciting new chapter" -- with the South African teams conceding a combined 25 tries over the opening two rounds.

And while Bowe feels there was always going to be a "bedding in period" for both teams, he believes it was a wise move for a league that now looks to compete with the financial clout of the Aviva Premiership and Top 14.

The 2009 and 2013 British & Irish Lion believes the financial benefits of the expanded league, and the possibility of being joined by an American team in the future, will help PRO14 clubs keep their best players.

"From a player's point of view, I love it," Bowe, who was speaking at the launch of Subway's Sports for Schools programme in Dublin, added. "As a player you are always looking for something new, something different and to be able to travel to new countries, play new teams and get to know new people, different cultures.

"It is something as a player you will always embrace. From my point of view, I really welcomed it, I think it is going to be really exciting.

"Logistically-wise and for the supporters it is going to be difficult. But professional rugby is at a stage now where the league is competing against the English league, the French league, and the money that is in those two leagues.

"You've seen the way rugby is going, with some of the high-profile new contracts the players are getting, and in this league we want to be playing against the best players.

"We want teams to be able to hold on to their best players. So from the league's point of view, it is a smart move and I hope it pays off."