Major League Rugby

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Major League Rugby
Recent season
2018 Major League Rugby season
US Major League Rugby logo.png
Sport Rugby union
Inaugural season 2018
Commissioner Dean Howes[1]
Number of teams 8
Country United States
Champions Seattle Seawolves (2018)
Website usmlr.com
Broadcast partner CBS Sports Network, ESPN,
AT&T Sports Networks

Major League Rugby is an American professional rugby union competition that is the top-level club competition in the United States. It began its first season in 2018,[1][2] and is an initiative of the American rugby community in partnership with private investors.[3]

Competition format[edit]

Major League Rugby spans three months from April through June. The regular season of ten weeks is followed by a postseason for the top four teams consisting of two semi-final matches and the Championship Game to determine the season's MLR champion team.[4]

Teams[edit]

The league is structured as a single entity,[5] with each club owned by the league and club operators owning a share of the league. The inaugural clubs invested approximately $500,000 to join.[1]

Current teams[edit]

There are eight teams that have been confirmed for the 2019 Major League Rugby season:

Club Metro area Stadium Capacity Joined Coach
Austin Elite Austin, Texas Round Rock MPC [a] 3,500 2018 Alain Hyardet
Glendale Raptors Denver, Colorado Infinity Park[b] 5,000 2018 David Williams
Houston SaberCats Houston, Texas Aveva Stadium 3,500 2018 Justin Fitzpatrick
New Orleans Gold New Orleans, Louisiana Eagle Athletic Facility[c] 3,000 2018 Nate Osborne
Rugby United New York New York, New York Gaelic Park[d] 2,000 2019 Mike Tolkin
San Diego Legion San Diego, California Torero Stadium 6,000 2018 Rob Hoadley
Seattle Seawolves Seattle, Washington Starfire Stadium[e] 4,500 2018 Phil Mack
Utah Warriors Salt Lake City, Utah Zions Bank Stadium[f] 5,000 2018 Alf Daniels

Expansion teams[edit]

Other teams may join the league in 2019 and 2020. The following are teams that have publicly stated that they have acquired exclusive negotiating rights with the league:[9]

Club Metro area Stadium Capacity Joining Coach
LA Coast Rugby Los Angeles, California[g] - - 2019 -
Ontario Arrows Toronto, Ontario[h] York Lions Stadium 3,000 2019 Chris Silverthorn
DC MLR team Washington, D.C.[i] - - 2020 -

Potential expansion teams[edit]

  • Dallas Griffins, who initially looked to join for the 2018 season but pushed back their involvement to at least 2019.[14][15]
  • A Boston team.[14] The Boston Mystics club has already played a handful of exhibition matches against New York and Ontario.

Other reported potential locations for expansion include Vancouver (with 2 bids),[16] Chicago,[1] Kansas City,[1] and Minneapolis.[citation needed]

Notes:

  1. ^ The MPC is located in Round Rock, Texas which is a part of the Greater Austin metro area.
  2. ^ Infinity Park is in Glendale, Colorado, a home rule municipality in the Denver metropolitan area.
  3. ^ Eagle Athletic Facility is on the campus of Shaw High School in Marrero,[6] on the Westbank of New Orleans.[7]
  4. ^ Rugby United New York played at Gaelic Park during their 2018 exhibition season and may move to a different stadium in 2019.
  5. ^ Starfire Stadium is in the Seattle suburb of Tukwila, Washington.
  6. ^ Zions Bank Stadium is in Herriman, Utah, located within the Salt Lake City metropolitan area.[8]
  7. ^ LA Coast Rugby has exclusive negotiating rights for a team in the Los Angeles metropolitan area,[10] and plan to join the league in 2019.[11]
  8. ^ Ontario Arrows have exclusive negotiating rights for an Ontario-based team and plan to join the league in 2019.[12]
  9. ^ DC MLR has exclusive rights for a Washington, D.C. team that would join no later than 2020,[9][13] and could play exhibition games in 2019.[14]

Champions[edit]

By year

Year # of Teams Final Semi-final knockouts
Champion Score Runner-up Higher-ranked Lower-ranked
2018 7 Seattle Seawolves 23–19 Glendale Raptors San Diego Legion Utah Warriors

Players[edit]

MLR players are generally drawn from North American clubs, although teams are allowed to sign up to five overseas players.

Television coverage[edit]

Major League Rugby programming runs in prime weekend time slots on Saturday afternoons and Sunday evenings.[17]

The CBS Sports Network televises 13 matches nationally over the course of the season. This includes a Game of the Week during each of the 10 rounds of the MLR regular season along with all three post-season matches.[4] Live streaming is also available through the CBS Sports Network streaming platforms.[4] The remaining games are available on ESPN properties and regional sports networks.[18]

ESPN has the national and international rights to an 18-game package covering regular season matches to audiences across its various platforms.[18]

AT&T Sports Networks have a 17-game package covering six of the seven MLR teams for games not broadcast on the CBS Sports Network.[17] Home and away matches for Austin, Houston and New Orleans are carried on AT&T SportsNet Southwest. Seattle's matches are carried on Root Sports Northwest and all Glendale and Utah games are hosted on AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain.[17]

San Diego has a separate local rights agreement for their market with all the Legion's home and away MLR games that are not on the CBS Sports Network being televised locally on Channel 4 YurView California.[19] Dan Power, Peter Steinberg and Brian Hightower were the CBS Sports commentators for the 2018 season. culminating with the Championship Game in San Diego

Executives[edit]

  • Dean Howes – Commissioner, 2017–present.[1]
  • Nic Benson – Deputy Commissioner, 2017–present.[20]

Sponsorship[edit]

The league signed a multi-year partnership deal with XBlades in 2017 to supply all jersey/kit apparel for each MLR team and all match officials.[21] The MLR also announced Ram Rugby as the official ball supplier.[22] In May 2018, via Instagram, MLR announced Impact Custom Mouth Guards as the official mouth guard of the league.[23]

See also[edit]

  • PRO Rugby - a professional rugby competition in the U.S. that played only one season in 2016 before folding

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f "Major League Rugby nears kick-off as next attempt to make US a union power". The Guardian. UK. 2017-11-17. Archived from the original on 2017-11-19. Retrieved 2017-11-19. 
  2. ^ "Austin Elite, new U.S. pro rugby league lure major TV contract". Austin American-Statesman. 2017-11-07. Archived from the original on 2017-11-09. Retrieved 2017-11-09. 
  3. ^ "Glendale Raptors Announce Team, Coaches, & Ticket Sales". djcoilrugby. 2018-01-29. Archived from the original on 2018-02-05. Retrieved 2018-02-05. 
  4. ^ a b c "CBS Sports Network Partners with MLR". Major League Rugby (Press release). 2017-11-06. Archived from the original on 2017-11-09. Retrieved 2017-11-09. 
  5. ^ "What Is Major League Rugby?". This Is American Rugby. Archived from the original on 2017-04-07. Retrieved 2017-02-18. 
  6. ^ "Eagle Athletic Facility Mass & Groundbreaking". Carpe Diem!. 2017-11-01. Archived from the original on 2018-02-05. Retrieved 2018-02-05. 
  7. ^ Songy, Marielle (December 2017). "Archbishop Shaw High School Breaks Ground on New Stadium". The West Bank Beacon. New Orleans. Archived from the original on 2018-02-05. Retrieved 2018-02-05. 
  8. ^ "Utah Warriors Announce Home Venue for the Major League Rugby Season". Utah Warriors. 2018-01-25. Archived from the original on 2018-02-05. Retrieved 2018-02-05. 
  9. ^ a b "Washington DC team to enter Major League Rugby 'no later' than 2020". Major League Rugby. 2018-05-15. Retrieved 2018-06-03. 
  10. ^ "LA Coast Rugby Officially Announced As MLR Expansion Side". This is American Rugby. 2018-07-10. Archived from the original on 2018-07-10. Retrieved 2018-07-10. 
  11. ^ "NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, MLS joined by Major League Rugby in Los Angeles". ESPN. 2018-07-11. Archived from the original on 2018-07-13. Retrieved 2018-07-13. 
  12. ^ "Release: Ontario Arrows Planning Major League Rugby Entry for 2019". Ontario Arrows (Press release). 2018-07-16. Retrieved 2018-07-10. 
  13. ^ "Major League Rugby planned for Washington DC!". dcmlr.com. Archived from the original on 2018-06-03. Retrieved 2018-06-03. 
  14. ^ a b c Pengelly, Martin (2018-05-15). "Washington DC team to enter Major League Rugby 'no later' than 2020". The Guardian. UK. Archived from the original on 2018-05-15. Retrieved 2018-06-03. 
  15. ^ "San Diego joins as Major League Rugby eyes rapid expansion". This Is American Rugby. 2017-09-21. Archived from the original on 2017-10-02. Retrieved 2017-11-06. 
  16. ^ "Canucks owner: "We would look at a rugby team"". The Province. Vancouver. 2017-11-07. Archived from the original on 2017-11-19. Retrieved 2017-11-19. 
  17. ^ a b c "Major League Rugby Announce Telecast Agreement with AT&T Sports Networks". MLR. 2018-02-05. Retrieved 2018-04-30. 
  18. ^ a b "Major League Rugby and ESPN Announce Rights Agreement". MLR. 2018-03-20. Retrieved 2018-04-30. 
  19. ^ "Media partners". San Diego Legion. Retrieved 2018-03-28. 
  20. ^ "Major League Rugby to launch with 9 teams". Rugby Today. 2017-05-08. Archived from the original on 2017-11-20. 
  21. ^ "Major League Rugby announces XBlades as official apparel partner". Major League Rugby. 2017-12-20. Retrieved 2018-02-05. 
  22. ^ "Major League Rugby Announces Ram Rugby as Official Ball Sponsor". usmlr.com. 2018-02-07. Retrieved 2018-03-17. 
  23. ^ Major League Rugby Announces Impact Mouthguards as Sponsor "Major League Rugby Announces Impact Mouthguards as Sponsor". Major League Rugby. 2018-05-24. Retrieved 2018-07-02. 

External links[edit]