The news American rugby union fans have been waiting for is finally out — there will be a professional league in the United States.
While some details are still being finalised, starting in April 2016 six teams will compete in the Professional Rugby Organization — shortened to PRO Rugby — while in 2017 the league will expand to include Canadian teams to make this an inclusive North American competition.
A local television broadcast is unlikely at the outset, but fans will be able to stream games live online. USA Rugby CEO Nigel Melville explained: “Major League Soccer didn’t have a [television] contract for many years, but it’s something that’s an important part of the puzzle.
“You have to build from the ground up. There’s a world to get this started, everyone’s keen to get onboard and help and start building the competition in the sport, and I think we’ll have great success.”
Competing teams will be brand new, meaning there won’t be any affiliation with any of the elite clubs currently playing in the U.S. However, players will be able to move between their club and professional teams. “People in charge of the league are very keen to make sure the amateur clubs and the professional clubs work hand-in-hand in every locale that they set up,” Melville said.
In terms of who will play in the new league, there is a core group of players that organisers already have their eye on. “Each team will be comprised of five international, non-North American players, then there will be Canadian and American pool players,” PRO Rugby CEO Doug Schoninger said.
“The pool players, we will select from our knowledge base. We’re obviously working very closely with USA Rugby to identify players we would want, and we’ll see if they’re available. And then, with the club players, we’re going to be working very locally as well.”
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