Major League Rugby announces plan for the 2021 season

Major League Rugby

Major League Rugby (MLR) will be back on March 20, 2021. There will be two expansion teams in the 2021 season, which will be in Dallas and Los Angeles.

Major League Rugby is Back in 2021

Planned Schedule and Format

The games will start on March 20, 2021, for an 18-week regular season. Then over two weeks, the MLR playoffs will contest the Eastern Conference and Western Conference Finals.

This means that the top two teams from the Eastern Conference and the top two teams from the Western Conference make the playoffs.

However, it is still a possibility that COVID-19 might persist as a major health issue in March. If that happens, MLR has a contingency plan to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. This is what current Major League Rugby Commissioner George Killebrew said about this contingency plan.

Killebrew expanded on this point according to Martin Pengelly of The Guardian: “We’re the beneficiary of not really having to go face-to-face until mid- to late March, so we’ll continue to monitor it throughout the fall and winter.

“We do have contingency plans, our intent is to get in 16 matches, but we do have in our back pocket a reduced season plan, we have a bubble plan that we’re going to keep in our back pocket until we need it.”

Major League Rugby Expansion in 2021 and Beyond

The LA Giltinis and Dallas Jackals will be the two new teams in MLR. As a result, there will be three teams in Texas and two in California. Also, with the Colorado Raptors deciding to drop out of MLR, there is an uneven number of teams. In the Western Conference, there are seven teams, while the Eastern Conference has six teams.

The Jackals have recently signed James Malcolm. Malcolm has played his professional career in Europe including the Glasgow Warriors, Doncaster Knights, and the London Scottish. He had 40 points in total in his career. This included 10 points each with the Warriors and Knights and 20 points with the Scottish.

Expansion Plans for Chicago, Hawaii, and South America

Hawaii and Chicago seem to be the cities closest to acquiring an MLR team according to Pengelly. The entrance fee for an MLR team is now $10 million US. This is what Killebrew said about Hawaii potentially coming in 2021 according to Pengelly.

“It’s not gonna be Hawaii,” Killebrew said, “which is sad because I would have really enjoyed continuing the ability for this league to spread out. We obviously have a team in Toronto.

“If you look down the line as we grow, it’d be great to have an additional team – or teams – in Canada, and be great to have an additional team in Hawaii, it’d be great to possibly expand to South America in time.”

There were plans for Hawaii to have a team next year but they have decided to delay their plans. South America will be difficult to do. This is because the Jaguares (the team is located in the capital city of Buenos Aires) from Super Rugby is still in existence, but could be moving to the South American rugby union league.

Súper Liga Americana de Rugby (SLAR) is a new pro rugby union league in South America that started its first season earlier this year. For these reasons alone South America should be off-limits.

However, MLR can try to put teams in Mexico and Central America, and grow professional rugby union that way.

Major League Rugby and their potential Canadian expansion

This news could be great for Canadian rugby union fans. Killebrew would not be mentioning a possible Canadian MLR team if one was not in the works. There are two potential cities in Canada that could host an MLR team. However, Bryan Ray, an editor and writer for Americas Rugby News has revealed that Halifax is out of the running:

Ray also revealed that Sports & Entertainment Atlantic, which currently has a Canadian Premier League soccer team cannot afford an MLR team right now.

However, there is still one Canadian city rumoured to be interested in an MLR team. Vancouver has long been mentioned as being the second MLR team after the Toronto Arrows and is still in the running.

Vancouver, home to the province of British Columbia (BC) is a rugby union hotbed in Canada. The World Rugby Sevens for men tournament takes place once a year at BC Place in Vancouver.

This is while the World Rugby Women’s Seven Series tournament takes place once a year at Langford, which is also in BC. Langford is a city on southern Vancouver Island and is a municipality of Greater Victoria and is within the Capital Regional District. Victoria is the capital city of BC.

According to Darren Krause of LiveWire Calgary last year, there were five cities interested in a Major League Rugby team. Halifax has dropped out, so that will make it four cities. MLR plans to have 16 teams before slowing down expansion according to Bob Williams of the US Office.

Potential Vaccines in Canada and USA

Major League Rugby will be back in 2021. The only question is what type of world everyone would be living in March.

It might depend on having a coronavirus vaccine or not. According to The Canadian Press of CBC News, Canada has secured at least 154 million doses of potential COVID-19 vaccines from U.S. companies. One of the U.S. companies that Canada has bought the vaccine from hopes to have the coronavirus vaccine by the first half of 2021.

Lastly, according to Michelle R. Smith of The Associated Press, the U.S. government is preparing a coronavirus vaccine to be distributed on November 1st. However, this timeline has raised concern among public health experts. A potential vaccine may play a role in how sports businesses operate leagues next year throughout the world.

Overview of the 2021 Major League Rugby season schedule

Looking at the rugby union side, it is exciting to see a new season is around the corner. It looks like Major League Rugby will survive past the COVID-19 pandemic and into the 2021 season.

With the addition of two new cities in Dallas and Los Angeles, the future of professional rugby union looks bright in North America.

 

 

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