Tuesday , September 19 2017
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photo credit; Norma Salinas

Major League Rugby coming in 2018

A new elite-level club competition is coming to America. Initially a group of five teams forming the ‘Major Rugby Championship’, the group has now expanded to nine with plans to begin formally under the ‘Major League Rugby’ name in 2018. While the new-found competition has not explicitly stated its intentions to become fully professional, some of the members are already paying their players, most notably the Austin Huns who are currently playing a series of friendlies with their ‘Elite Squad’. The full list of participating clubs (and management entities) is as follows:

Austin Huns (Huns Rugby Management)
Chicago Lions (Chicago Lions Professional Rugby)
Dallas Griffins (DFW Major Rugby)
Glendale Raptors (1924 Rugby)
Houston Strikers
Kansas City Blues (Blues Rugby Management)
New Orleans RFC (NOLA Rugby Enterprises)
Rugby Utah (Rugby Utah Ventures)
Seattle Saracens (Seattle Rugby LLC)

It’s unclear at this time how this will affect the future of PRO Rugby, which remains sanctioned as the exclusive professional domestic 15-a-side competition despite currently having no players or coaches on contract, and no immediate plans for a 2017 season. PRO’s three-year license agreement with USA Rugby expires in April of 2018, with a 180-day notice of non-renewal clause available to USAR should it choose not to extend the permit.

An exclusive sanction for professional 7s in the USA remains with Grand Prix Entertainment, though the trademarked use of ‘Major League Rugby’ has now been acquired by the new group. While further details are still to be revealed, sources have indicated to Americas Rugby News that several sponsors have shown interest, including insurance giants AIG, already strong supporters of USA Rugby. A media announcement scheduled for earlier today was briefly released on social media but has now been withdrawn, set to be re-released later this evening.

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Formally created in June 2015, this website's goal is to increase media exposure of the Tier 2 rugby nations, and create a hub with a focus on the stories of rugby in the Americas - North, Central and South.

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  • TroyCrites

    I was hoping my Quins would make this list. But glad there are so many quality teams here outside of California.

  • therick83

    Curious how the Griffins, who currently aren’t even playing men’s 15s made this list.

  • PatricioSandionigi

    Could you add teams from the rest of America?

  • Markham1988

    Perhaps this is why they aren’t playing right now. They said they were working on something else since they opened that sports center .

  • nicosk3

    Sounds good. Just New York and Boston are missing so far. But there’s one year to complete it and make it fully professional.

  • nicosk3

    PatricioSandionigi With Canada it would be better!

  • PatricioSandionigi

    I am referring to a great Pan-American Conference Tournament

  • nicosk3

    Even if it’s on FB, congrats to Americasrugbynews for this big news!

  • Artie29

    So now it’s the “Dallas” Griffins? Oh yeah, that adds credibility to the whole thing.

  • sjrugby

    Wonder why none of the California teams are on this list, hopefully and they better, be added in the coming months. If SFGG is to be regarded as a top program in the country would be a shame if they did not participate especially with them owning there own facility.same for ombac
    Wonder if there is any specific requirements as to what future teams can be added, such as is there a specific amount of seats for the playing venue, how much money are players suppose D to be payed, and so on.

  • Schula77

    This is as green as it gets, they shouldn’t have announced this, Allen Griffins are no longer a club, they run out of money and they haven’t payed coaches and players what they are owed. This sounds like another publicity stunt by Huns and company. I hope one days the USA has a real pro league like NFL , NBA , NHL and MLB . Or something like UFC . So far it’s just talk and no walk. They need to get Mark Kuban behind MLR , he played and helps Indiana University Rugby, he knows a thing or two about running a sport business and USARugby needs to check better before allowing another PRO Rugby fiasco . Fake news

  • nicosk3

    Schula77 what would be wise is people from Pro Rugby, USA Rugby and Major League Rugby to sit altogether. I don’t if this news is fake as i trust this very sympathetic site. But i know moutains are high before getting a “rugby NFL” and so all resources necessary.

  • Doug Lyons

    At the end of the day how is this anything more tgan a bunch of clubs getting together to form yet another league?

  • nicosk3

    Doug Lyons And is it bad?

  • Doug Lyons

    Tell me how it’s going to move the game forward. Are these players going to be full time in a high performance environment getting paid to play? Anything less is just reshuffling or possibly diluting limited resources. Or more bluntly.
    If people want to form a league that’s fine; to lay claim to being the premiere rugby competition without offering even the slightest details. We’ve been down this road more than once.

  • Artie29

    nicosk3 Schula77 Its not just the folded Griffins. Wasn’t the Houston Strikers a club that ceased to exist decades ago? Merged or folded or whatever. Does this site bother to vet anything or do they just post whatever nonsense given to them?

  • Markham1988

    Allen Griffins have a huge sports gym they bought last year. I’v seen it and trained there with the Texas Rattlesnakes and it’s sic. Those guys said they chose not to play in the TRU while they did something else. There’s a big bodybuilder owner who said they fired the coach for some bad sh1t but were still doing well. Theyve been great for rugby. Huns as well trying there best to grow the game. We should encourage anybody who is spending their money to help rugby. What have you done to help rugby Schula77?

  • Markham1988

    Huns have spent money to fix there fields. Griffins have a million dollar rugby gym, Strikers said they are building a stadium. Glendale have a stadium, Utah have a former MLS. Owner, Blues are owned by MLS team, Seattle are with London Daracens, Chicago are well established, NewOrleans have been national champs. Looks like a organized group. @Schula77 we should be praying they do well not hating on them for trying

  • Doug Lyons

    I think that the expression “show me the money” fits. That, by the way, is not hating. It’s a simple expectation that after two failed ventures we want to see something with meat behind it.

  • Schula77

    I coached for the past 20 years and started playing at 5/6 years old. The Allen Griffins has 0 players CIPP for the current season, the club folded, rugby is a lot more than a pretty gym.

  • Schula77

    Agree Doug , “Show me the Mone”, MLR should start with a floor of a million bucks per club. Kind of like Rugby in Top14-Pro D2 . They don’t care about Salary Cap they care about a minimum floor to pay bills for a season. I think that just throwing names is irresponsible. In Top 14 teams have been dropped to Division 3 for luck of funds and trying to cook the books a little.

  • Schula77

    I don’t hate, I want rugby to grow in America, but the right way. I watched the Huns verily beat the Reds online the other day . They had their premiere pro team. That was not professional Rugby. I’m very sorry to burst your bubble. After that watched USA vs Uruguay and it was a different rugby. Huns need to have a shower of humble and go to the playoffs in D1 once , do well and then I’ll buy into them. It’s not just money and high school bleachers. They are trying to fly with out walking , things take time. Development doesn’t happen overnight, they need to recruit the best 20 college players and do it right not 5 foreigners and the same old guys. Austin has less than 2 % of unemployment.

  • Markham1988

    That doesn’t mean they have folded. Griffins did things different. I watched them play in Frisco in front of a few hundred, in a proper stadium that they spent money to rent. They have already announced they weren’t playing TRU this year. I know a lot who have coaches for 20 years, doesn’t mean you’re any good. Good luck to anybody trying to take rugby pro. It doesn’t hurt to try

  • Markham1988

    … and what you have contributed is SO much better. Give me a break. You sound like a jealus hasbeem. My dad has played professional rugby in Australia and was amazed when we moved here because a lot of Texas really don’t want to see rugby go anywhere. Easier to cut someone’s efforts down instead of offering support. You belong in football not rugby. Tw@t

  • Markham1988

    Have talked to anybody at Huns, Griffins or Strikers or just making ASSumptions?

  • PatricioSandionigi

    Markham1988 Sure that it is risky to launch a professional league, do not stop trying

  • TheStroBro

    Alright lads…calm down.

    So I’ve been a party to some of the stuff floating around.  The names of the teams and ownership groups as listed is correct.  Now, I’m like you in that I have a lot of questions.  The largest one for me is doesn’t this open the Union up to litigation?  Yes it does as I understand the Sanctioning “Agreement” with PRO.  But, as per this link http://www.texasrugbyunion.com/2017/02/13/tru-agm-notes-21217/ you will find that the PRO organization is undergoing litigation.  I’m unsure if the Union is the plaintiff or the Defendant.  In my eyes the Union has every right and standing to execute a termination for cause based on non-payment of employees, players, and vendors.
    Now, let’s get into the ownership groups behind MLR, according to Birdie (sources), the nine clubs purchased the name Major League Rugby from Grand Prix Entertainment.   What I do not like, and have serious beef with them is this: Why are you leaking information if you’re not ready for a full court press to market your product.  Why does the old website, facebook, and twitter that was trolling PRO still exist.  The purpose of leaking info yourself is so you can have a press conference later.  There is still no official release out this group and this was leaked on Sunday at the TRU Annual General Meeting.  Which unlike the Congress meeting was open to the public and published their minutes as seen in the link above.  Why isn’t there a press release?  Are they going to fight the Union’s fight against PRO?
    Then, following the press release, get your media people in place so you can market the hell out of this thing for next season.

    League Structure, physicians, coach cap, salary cap, combine?  I have a lot of questions that make no sense to have if we’re going to play independent ball (baseball ref).

    Why is there no California team?  Old Money is the Olympic Club, SFGG, and OMBAC.  We can talk about the North East, but I heard they don’t play until the ice melts these days and then it’s 7s.

  • CloDa2

    TheStroBro Where did the leak come from? Was it deliberate or did Grant Cole dig it out before they were ready?

  • nicosk3

    Doug Lyons things can get built progressively through semi-professionalism to start and then…what is interesting with this let’s say projet is that is run by clubs and not investors with franchises. This is pretty much rugby spirited. Why it was leaked? To soft sound markets, investors etc…
    Pro is unfortunately getting into litigation. USA Rugby is definitely unable to launch anything. Among the 9 clubs, two or three are closed to run a fully professional outfit, other would struggle a little… If they got Canadians with them, they would set a consistent league.

  • TheStroBro

    CloDa2 I believe this was a calculated and deliberate leak.  Grant Cole didn’t just dig this out, the fact sheet he wrote commentary on was distributed during the TRU AGM.  It was also mentioned by Tony Ridnell, there were too many people at the TRU AGM for this not to get out immediately, it just so happens some smart folks were the first to talk about it rather than your everyday idiot (That’s Me).  

    What is making me mad is that there hasn’t been an official press release, that they didn’t have their leak backed up.  Had a big shot here, and the ball got dropped.  But the Huns are already talking in official products that they are a founding member of the MLR as seen in this partnership memo with Mary Washington Rugby: https://www.facebook.com/UMWRUGBY/photos/pb.87427458220.-2207520000.1487112534./10155027662133221/?type=3&theater

    I don’t know anything about marketing, but I could definitely get after it for them.

  • gps996

    TheStroBro CloDa2 They’d be smart to chase similar agreements with other schools such as AIC amd St Mary’s.

  • Schula77

    Lot s of smoke, nothing real. Let’s wait and see how the mighty Huns that never in their history beat the Austin Blacks do this weekend and in a couple of weeks against Glendale Raptors. Being a professional Rugby team they should beat them both.

  • gps996

    Schula77 Have you seen the Raptors roster? It’s essentially the Denver Stampede from PRO bar a couple of players that have moved across to Austin. The Raptors are a seriously good outfit. I’ll be watching the Austin derby with interest. But I have to ask, what’s your problem with this proposed league? Good for these organisations for attempting to develop and become commercially viable. It’s easy to come on a message board and lob grenades at a group that’s prepared to try something without offering an alternative? You clearly don’t like the Huns but they’re the one’s investing the time and resources not you.

  • Markham1988

    Huns are offering the chance for guys to get paid to play rugby and should be cheered on for that. It’s a positive, no matter what the short term outcome. Griffins gave opportunities also for the last four years and still employ rugby guys at their gym, some others have done same. You may not like everything they do but how about you stop being a whiney little bitch and support anybody trying to grow the game instead.
    And I talked to Griffins. Definitely not folded!

  • Doug Lyons

    Here’s the thing Markham … We have had two entities come in and try to set up shop. The NRFL turned out to be the All Combine League. Or at least that is as far as they have progressed. PRO Rugby would appear to be in a death spiral though Doug Shoninger claims otherwise. So now we have MLR who stake the claim of being the premiere rugby tournament in North America and make such boastful statements such as “get ready for Tier One”. Their words.
    I think it is incumbent upon the rugby community to kick the tires on this vehicle and frankly if MLR is not able to answer the most basic of questions then what does that tell you?
    i just believe the community needs to look at this from a verify THEN trust perspective. Like I have said before; it’s not as if we haven’t read this book before.
    Good on them for trying but shame on us for not asking the right questions and expecting open answers in return.

  • gps996

    Doug Lyons The MLR you’re looking at being the fb page and website is not the league discussed in the article. That particularly ‘group’ is more a one man band who actually has no rights to the name. Tried to register it only to find out that it was already the property of GPE. 

    Since then the groups behind this league has purchased the name from GPE. But the fb page and website does not belong to them. They really should force him to either change the name of his concept or shut them down,

  • Doug Lyons

    Interesting. Do they have a place to have a look see? None of my views change in terms of being diligent about asking questions.
    I do note that the sight I was looking at seems current ….

  • TheStroBro

    Doug Lyons what site?  Compare the teams in the article and the teams on this website and there is a stark contrast: http://www.mlrrugby.com/

  • Markham1988

    You are right Doug. We should be inquisitive and maybe hesitant but that’s different than being cynical and negative. It’s a private venture with private money and unlike PRO, there’s no reason to think MLR will ask anything of us as a rugby community. Let’s kick the tires and decide if we want to purchase AFTER this vehicle has at least made it off the production line.

  • Doug Lyons

    FB links to the website you provide above. One and the same; which is the defunct entity?

  • therick83

    That mlr website is old league that never came through and doesn’t represent this new league’s structure.

  • PatricioSandionigi
  • PatricioSandionigi
  • Schula77

    TheStroBro your website is not related the Huns are running a MLR club based.
    PatricioSandionigi you are way of base, MLR will be a USA maybe Canada club pro rugby league. Argentina no tienen nada que ver amigo . NO hay nada concreto.
    If MLR doesn’t start with 10 teams at a minimum there will be no Tv deal.

  • nicosk3

    PatricioSandionigi Argentinian Provinces are expected to join Superrugby…U0001f614

  • nicosk3

    44 posts already show on much this issue is the One. For North American rugby fan but also for the sport all over the world as spreading there with professionalism would strengthen him…

  • TheStroBro

    Schula77 yeah I’m tracking man.  I was asking Doug Lyons what website he was talking about because the one linked is from the old Grand Prix Entertainment.  Which if they purchased the rights to the name they should have the Facebook account and take over the website or have it come down.  That’s part of the marketing issues I’ve been talking about.

  • PatricioSandionigi

    I do not deserve Province teams, I mean Clubs

  • Schula77

    To me that S the only thing missing real professional Rugby in USA. I don’t care who owns the teams , or if it S one owner or multiple. As long as it’s serious, properly funded and there S a TV deal in place. Without a TV deal , you got nothing, any one club or individuals want return in their investments.

  • Schula77

    Markham1988
    First don’t be rude and ignorant. We are discussing as grownups so be mannered and don’t take comments personal. Griffins are not playing D1 Texas this year and that is a fact. New Orlans either because it was too expensive and they dropped to D2 because that S available to them in that region. MLR as described on rugby today is a paper league so far. Tier one is an IRB/world rugby denomination for the top 8 -10 countries in the world that get more funding that. Tier 2/3. That does not apply to clubs.
    We all want a Professional league in the USA/Canada, that will be the next step to grow rugby in North America.
    I want one that is sustainable in time and can grow from 10 to 32 teams like the NFL. But a lot has to happen and if there no 10 teams in the MLR , there will be no TV deal and the individuals or clubs paying for the clubs of the MLR will not turn any profit .
    I hope I was clear enough my simple minded friend

  • nicosk3