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Major League Rugby

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Major League Rugby

Postby TheStroBro » Mon, 04 Dec 2017, 17:19

As some of you may know, the season is fast approaching. The Houston Sabercats are playing some friendlies against local clubs in Texas this fall before they play pre-season matches. Notably against Uruguay the week before Uruguay faces Canada in Americas 2 qualifiers.

I am one of the co-hosts/founders and pre-production producer for the Earful of Dirt Podcast- https://soundcloud.com/earfulofdirt , which covers Major League Rugby. We're on our 15 Episode tonight, we broadcast a live show on youtube, usually Mondays at 10PM EST/7PM PST. We've gone over a lot there. But where are we at with the league?

Major League Rugby '18 will feature 7 teams over a ten week schedule, that means 2 Bye Weeks per side, and then the season will culminate in a Semi-Final and Final. The season will begin on 21 April. The teams are:

Austin Elite Rugby- https://www.austineliterugby.com/
Glendale Raptors- http://www.glendaleraptors.com/
Houston Sabercats- https://houstonsabercats.com/
NOLA Gold- http://www.nolagoldrugby.com/
San Diego Legion- https://www.sdlegion.com/
Seattle Seawolves- http://www.seattleseawolves.com/
Utah Warriors- http://www.warriorsrugby.com/

So far, based on everything I've got the the for sure expansion teams look like a team currently titled Rugby Club New York, Ontario Arrows, Chicago Lions (or a team derived from them), and KC Blues (or a team derived from them).

There is talks of a Boston team, I've found enough information that facilities could lead to a team as early as 2019, but looks more like 2020. Vancouver is likely to have a team in 2020. And a team in NorCal seems to be in the works going forward, I like Sacramento more than San Francisco due to Cost of Living.

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Re: Major League Rugby

Postby jonny24 » Mon, 04 Dec 2017, 18:16

I'm very excited to see this happen, especially when Ontario joins next year.
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Re: Major League Rugby

Postby Coloradoan » Mon, 04 Dec 2017, 19:00

Sacramento would be a great option for an MLR team. They got the best crowds for PRO and it's a good sized market that has produced a lot of Eagles and other quality players. Bonney Field seems about the right size for MLR, although I'm not sure what will happen to it when the soccer team moves to its new stadium.

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Re: Major League Rugby

Postby Buffalo » Mon, 04 Dec 2017, 19:42

Seattle looks to be the team for me. Solid Canadian representation with coaches and players plus I'm a big Seahawks fan. A domestic half-back combo of Phil Mack and Shalom Suniula is one of the best out there and a center pairing of George Barton and Brock Staller will be hard to top. If he hasn't been snapped up yet I'm guessing we could see a Sacramento Express reunion of Olive Kilifi, Ray Barkwill and Val Lee-Lo which was hard to beat.

Columbus should be another target as a Mid-West team. If I recall they were a relative success story in PRO and had local backing and even an available venue in the works being built.

Also if I recall correctly, I remember the guys behind the Seattle team are also the group interested in a Vancouver team and are looking at a 2019 start as well. I wonder how much expansion is too much at once though it's nice to see all these different groups popping up and showing interest.

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Re: Major League Rugby

Postby victorsra » Mon, 04 Dec 2017, 19:53

Can anyone explain why this league will start in late april and clash with the June Tests? Wasn't it reasonable to start it in early April and avoid the june tests?!
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Re: Major League Rugby

Postby TheStroBro » Mon, 04 Dec 2017, 21:09

As of right now only certain teams would lose players. Most domestic Eagles play for Glendale with a few scattered with the rest of the clubs. Starting in April is important because Doug has to somehow field a season IOT to keep his sanctioning contract...and it looks like that's not gonna happen. It expires, there's a court fight that he'll lose because he didn't fulfill some important provisions. Next year when the Test Window moves to July, you'll see a July Break and then the playoffs in August.

In regards to expanding the League...I'm unsure...it could double in size next year, but I would hope that 2020 wouldn't be a massive expansion either. They're being careful when it comes to expansion growing pains, so I'm thinking next year will be a max of five expansion teams.

Episode 15 10PM EST/7PM PST tonight: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EayZn4pxBzg

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Re: Major League Rugby

Postby Working Class Rugger » Mon, 04 Dec 2017, 21:43

Buffalo wrote:Seattle looks to be the team for me. Solid Canadian representation with coaches and players plus I'm a big Seahawks fan. A domestic half-back combo of Phil Mack and Shalom Suniula is one of the best out there and a center pairing of George Barton and Brock Staller will be hard to top. If he hasn't been snapped up yet I'm guessing we could see a Sacramento Express reunion of Olive Kilifi, Ray Barkwill and Val Lee-Lo which was hard to beat.

Columbus should be another target as a Mid-West team. If I recall they were a relative success story in PRO and had local backing and even an available venue in the works being built.

Also if I recall correctly, I remember the guys behind the Seattle team are also the group interested in a Vancouver team and are looking at a 2019 start as well. I wonder how much expansion is too much at once though it's nice to see all these different groups popping up and showing interest.


Managing expansion will be an issue. Particularly with all the rumoured interest from groups looking in. They could easily go to 16 teams fairly quickly but that would in all likelihood damages the overall quality of the competition or start an arms race for talent that would not be sustainable so early on for the competition.

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Re: Major League Rugby

Postby victorsra » Mon, 04 Dec 2017, 22:04

Starting in April is important because Doug has to somehow field a season IOT to keep his sanctioning contract

Well, why April 21st and not April 1st? 3 weeks earlier would solve the issue.
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Re: Major League Rugby

Postby fullbackace » Mon, 04 Dec 2017, 22:18

Lets hope this one last longer than the last.
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Re: Major League Rugby

Postby TheStroBro » Mon, 04 Dec 2017, 22:53

victorsra wrote:
Starting in April is important because Doug has to somehow field a season IOT to keep his sanctioning contract

Well, why April 21st and not April 1st? 3 weeks earlier would solve the issue.

Something about the 21st is magical...

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Re: Major League Rugby

Postby sammo » Mon, 04 Dec 2017, 23:01

TheStroBro wrote:
victorsra wrote:
Starting in April is important because Doug has to somehow field a season IOT to keep his sanctioning contract

Well, why April 21st and not April 1st? 3 weeks earlier would solve the issue.

Something about the 21st is magical...


Is the 21st not the final day of the PRO exclusivity deal?

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Re: Major League Rugby

Postby AXLstockholm » Mon, 04 Dec 2017, 23:07

I really hope this competition becomes the catalyst for professional Rugby in North America. Is there a date for finalising the roster of each club? I noticed Utah's only player profile is Paul Lasike, what a player he could potentially be.

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Re: Major League Rugby

Postby Suiram » Mon, 04 Dec 2017, 23:14

sammo wrote:
TheStroBro wrote:
victorsra wrote:
Starting in April is important because Doug has to somehow field a season IOT to keep his sanctioning contract

Well, why April 21st and not April 1st? 3 weeks earlier would solve the issue.

Something about the 21st is magical...


Is the 21st not the final day of the PRO exclusivity deal?


Something like that.

Its not ideal for the first season with June tests, but should not affect too many teams. Although Seattle's Canadian players do give it a strong boost, its hard to see anyone but Denver/Glendale as the team to beat. They have rolled over all US/Canadian competition to date and seem to have strengthened their squad further with their U20 academy. Plus I would not be surprised if they sign a few overseas players before April.

I'd say the biggest wild card might be Houston who are starting completely from scratch but signed quite a few overseas players and bigger names that could make for a quality team. They also seem to have one of the most intensive preparation and pre-season schedules.

Utah has announced more than just Lasike. The best source for up to date rosters (that are still not complete) is here: http://www.americasrugbynews.com/compet ... gue-rugby/

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Re: Major League Rugby

Postby TheStroBro » Mon, 04 Dec 2017, 23:42

Officially Utah has only announced:
Cullen, Lasike, Tucci, and Tu’ipulotu. The rest of those were guys on the Selects and inferred additions. ARN updates that thing...weekly or daily so it will be fully accurate in April. Great resource, it means I don't have to populate a spreadsheet.

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Re: Major League Rugby

Postby thatrugbyguy » Tue, 05 Dec 2017, 01:46

So New York and Ontario seem almost certain for season two. Any idea where they will be playing?

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Re: Major League Rugby

Postby Working Class Rugger » Tue, 05 Dec 2017, 01:58

thatrugbyguy wrote:So New York and Ontario seem almost certain for season two. Any idea where they will be playing?


No idea on Ontario. Depends where they choose to set up. From the look of it (strictly from their logo design) that will be somewhere in the Toronto area. Looking at facilities in that area then Lamport Stadium would be the best fit but I don't know if the surface is suitable or whether that would matter.

In regards to NY. There has been suggestion of Gaelic Park to begin with while they look to develop their own facility. But we probably won't know for a little while yet.

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Re: Major League Rugby

Postby Bruce_ma_goose » Tue, 05 Dec 2017, 08:38

Good luck to it and hopefully the US union interferes with it as little as possible.

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Re: Major League Rugby

Postby Canalina » Tue, 05 Dec 2017, 09:09

Map of the seven clubs. East coast is missing. I would have thought the opposite, considering that the north-east should be (basing on my poor notions about Usa) the most "european" area

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Re: Major League Rugby

Postby thatrugbyguy » Tue, 05 Dec 2017, 10:08

New York and Ontario will be a good start in the Northeast. I've read rumours of Boston and Chicago also. You would think Philadelphia would also be a target. Then you've got Dallas, Kansas City who dropped out of season one, as well as the rumoured interested from Vancouver. I agree with what was said earlier about looking at Columbus given how good the support was for the PRO Rugby games. Would be nice to get to at least 12-14 teams by year 3. Exciting times!

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Re: Major League Rugby

Postby sk 88 » Tue, 05 Dec 2017, 12:28

fullbackace wrote:Lets hope this one last longer than the last.



Indeed.

I just hope it gets off the ground and can keep developing some momentum.

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Re: Major League Rugby

Postby 4N » Tue, 05 Dec 2017, 12:39

Canalina wrote:Map of the seven clubs. East coast is missing. I would have thought the opposite, considering that the north-east should be (basing on my poor notions about Usa) the most "european" area

Image


That has nothing to do with it. If anything, rugby union is stronger where the are more Pacific Islanders (western states).

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Re: Major League Rugby

Postby sk 88 » Tue, 05 Dec 2017, 13:10

The locations of the teams should all be based on commercial things.

1) Where can they draw a crowd?
2) Where can they draw sponsors?
3) What time zones do the TV contracts want games in?

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Re: Major League Rugby

Postby Suiram » Tue, 05 Dec 2017, 13:16

Northeast is denser and older (so maybe a bit more European) but that’s also the problem. Land and facilities (and wages) are more expensive. Issues finding suitable stadiums.

All the proposed teams are in much more spread out markets. But also kind of driven by where clubs had the structures in place along with financial backers.

For the scale MLR clubs are targeting there are loads of cities of a viable size. Becomes the commercial considerations beyond that. And actually some of these somewhat smaller markets may be better in terms of being less saturated with the other major sports.
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Re: Major League Rugby

Postby victorsra » Tue, 05 Dec 2017, 13:24

Toronto, Chicago and NY would be great. But it is not wise to greaw more after 10 teams. In fact, 8 teams would be ideal, with just Toronto added. Wait for the succes to expand more and to see if the current location are good enough (relocation to the Northeast could be a possibility if some current city fails).

Who is your biggest concern about public/media interest? Salt Lake? New Orleans? Houston?
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Re: Major League Rugby

Postby amz » Tue, 05 Dec 2017, 13:31

By the look of it and considering that it may attract a wide range of players , probably from South American ARC countries as well, I don't see why should be limited in the future if the grow is normal. There are only International tests to overlap with MLR so I think it can go to even 16 teams if there is interest.

Canadians should jump in as soon as possible if the project is viable.

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