Major League Rugby 2020 International signings

Major League Rugby 2020 International signings
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Major League Rugby (MLR) is an extremely young league, with only two seasons under its belt. Already in just a few short years of competition, Major League Rugby clubs have begun to obtained acclaimed International stars like ex-All Black, the wing Rene Ranger, as well as former Australian centre Digby Ioane.

Add in European stars like French International Mathieu Bastareaud (see main picture) and English fullback Ben Foden, who are going to be in the league for the upcoming 2020.

The biggest signing though will be 100 test All Blacks player, Ma’a Nonu; who has signed with the San Diego Legion.

The future looks bright in North America, as established players now consider MLR as a realistic option, to furthering their careers.

Major League Rugby – San Diego Legion

Ma’a Nonu

Ma’a Nonu is a New Zealand All Blacks superstar, signing with the San Diego Legion of MLR. Nonu has played at the highest level with over 170  Super Rugby matches under his belt, and has experience in playing in some of the best leagues in the world: the French Top14 and Japan Top League.

This signing was compared by Martin Pengelly of The Guardian to the Toronto Wolfpack signing Sonny Bill Williams.

Nonu will be joining an extremely talented squad. Last year they finished first in Major League Rugby, heading into the playoffs. They defeated Rugby United New York in the semi-finals before losing to the Seattle Seawolves in the final.

He certainly is the biggest signing in Major League Rugby’s short history. However, there are also other signings that are just as big, like former All Black Rene Ranger and former Wallabies superstar Digby Ioane.

Major League Rugby – Colorado Raptors

Rene Ranger

According to Alex McLeod of Rugby Pass, former All Black utility back Rene Ranger is heading to the United States. He will try to prolong his rugby career after signing with Major League Rugby side the Colorado Raptors.

Ranger has played for the Blues and the Sunwolves at Super Rugby, considered by many to be the best professional rugby in the southern hemisphere.

The Colorado Raptors have also signed Digby Ioane.

Digby Ioane

Americas Rugby News reported that Digby ioane is one of the former Wallabies stars who signed with the Colorado Raptors in 2020. He is one of the most well-known signings in Major League Rugby. He has nearly a decade of Super Rugby experience and 35 test matches for Australia.

A starting winger for the Wallabies at the 2011 World Cup and has made 66 appearances for the Queensland Reds between 2008-2013.

Ioane has also played in Stade Français for two years, before playing four years in Japan’s Top League.

However, these two players might be worried about the Colorado Raptors franchise

Update – Colorado Raptors uncertain future?

Multiple sources within and outside the US game states that the Colorado Raptors could withdraw from Major League Rugby by the end of this year. This is according Martin Pengelly of The Guardian. The reason would be the ‘complicated relationships’ Major League Rugby owners have.

However, this does not mean Colorado is losing their team. According to The Guardian, the Colorado Raptors would be part of a new league with a reformed MLR. Still, current and future players may think what they have gotten themselves into if the team changes leagues.

Also, Australia and New Zealand are not the only countries looking at Major League Rugby. Europe has also taken keen interest, specifically in England and France.

Major League Rugby – Rugby United New York

Mathieu Bastareaud

Mathieu Bastareaud has played 12 seasons in France and has captained the French national team three times. A quote from The Guardian’s Martin Pengally talks about this:

“I played 12 seasons in France,” he says, “eight in Toulon. I’ve won everything I wanted to win and I wanted a new challenge.

“But for me the big challenge is going outside Europe, and to come here was a big opportunity because the franchise starts at the beginning, and I love that.”

Mathieu Bastareaud is going into a playoff-quality team in Rugby United New York. They finished in first place in their inaugural season and almost won against first seed the San Diego Legions, in last years Finals playoff.

People might be wondering why he chose to play in Major League Rugby, which Mathieu Basareaud said this:

“I think a lot of people don’t understand why I come here. But I think in one season they will change their opinion.”

Him; with the addition of Ben Foden, will make a good pairing for 2020.

Team prospects heading into 2020 MLR Season

The San Diego Legions, who signed Ma’a Nomu made the biggest splash this off-season. People in the league will be hoping Ma’a Nomu has a David Beckham affect on Major League Rugby. The same can be said about Steffon Armitage, former European player of the year.

Rugby United New York are also hoping to make an impression. Signing marquee players like Mathieu Basareaud means that they are also after the trophy.

The Colorado Raptors are looking at making it to the playoffs after missing out last season. Expect them to make a push to the playoffs next season. They are hoping Rene Ranger and Digby Ioane will help them push for a playoff spot in Major League Rugby.

It is important to note that there are several ways to create a successful MLR team. Other teams like the Toronto Arrows for example are hoping building local talent via academies will eventually award them the Major League Rugby trophy

Signings positive for Major League Rugby

Signing international well-known players even if they are past their prime will help grow the league each year. In a young league like Major League Rugby it is a massive accomplishment.

Major League Rugby will play their third season next year with 12 teams, an increase from nine teams this year. According to Americas Rugby League, two more teams will join Major League Rugby in 2021.

Things look optimistic for Major League Rugby and rugby union in North America.

Team prospects for 2020 MLR Season

The San Diego Legions, who signed Ma’a Nomu made the biggest splash this off-season. People in the league will be hoping Ma’a Nomu has a David Beckham affect on Major League Rugby. The same can be said about Steffon Armitage, former European player of the year.

Rugby United New York are also hoping to make an impression. Signing marquee players like Mathieu Basareaud means that they are also after the trophy.

The Colorado Raptors are looking at making it to the playoffs after missing out last season. Expect them to make a push to the playoffs next season. They are hoping Rene Ranger and Digby Ioane will help them push for a playoff spot in Major League Rugby.

It is important to note that there are several ways to create a successful MLR team. Other teams like the Toronto Arrows for example are hoping building local talent via academies will eventually award them the Major League Rugby trophy.

Major League Rugby 2020 season2020 season begins on February 8.

 

“Main photo credit”
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