Major League Rugby

Major League Rugby
Recent season
2018 Major League Rugby season
Sport Rugby union
Inaugural season 2018
Commissioner Dean Howes[1]
Number of teams 8
Country United States
Champions Seattle Seawolves (2018)
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

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]


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

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[lower-alpha 1] 3,500 2018 Alain Hyardet
Glendale Raptors Denver, Colorado Infinity Park[lower-alpha 2] 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[lower-alpha 3] 3,000 2018 Nate Osborne
Rugby United New York New York, New York Gaelic Park[lower-alpha 4] 2,000 2019 Mike Tolkin
San Diego Legion San Diego, California Torero Stadium 6,000 2018 Rob Hoadley
Seattle Seawolves Seattle, Washington Starfire Stadium[lower-alpha 5] 4,500 2018 Phil Mack
Utah Warriors Salt Lake City, Utah Zions Bank Stadium[lower-alpha 6] 5,000 2018 Alf Daniels

Expansion teams

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[lower-alpha 7] - - 2019 -
Ontario Arrows Toronto, Ontario[lower-alpha 8] York Lions Stadium 3,000 2019 Chris Silverthorn
DC MLR team Washington, D.C.[lower-alpha 9] - - 2020 -

Potential expansion teams

  • 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.


  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]


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


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

Television coverage

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


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


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

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


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "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. 1 2 3 "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. 1 2 "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!". Archived from the original on 2018-06-03. Retrieved 2018-06-03.
  14. 1 2 3 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. 1 2 3 "Major League Rugby Announce Telecast Agreement with AT&T Sports Networks". MLR. 2018-02-05. Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  18. 1 2 "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". 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.
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