The Dallas Jackals have decided not to play in the 2021 MLR (Major League Rugby) season. Instead, they plan to play in the 2022 MLR season.
This does not mean the Jackals are folding or that there is a problem with the ownership group. There are other professional sports teams in other sports that have done the same thing. However, this also means that the schedule will need to be adjusted as MLR will have 12 teams in 2021.
Dallas Jackals defers their inaugural season until 2022
𝗗𝗮𝗹𝗹𝗮𝘀 𝗝𝗮𝗰𝗸𝗮𝗹𝘀 𝗠𝗼𝘃𝗲 𝗜𝗻𝗮𝘂𝗴𝘂𝗿𝗮𝗹 𝗦𝗲𝗮𝘀𝗼𝗻 𝘁𝗼 𝟮𝟬𝟮𝟮 — Thank you for your unwavering support of Dallas Jackals Rugby thus far. We look forward to bringing profession rugby to DFW in 2022 and providing the very best experience for our fans. pic.twitter.com/Oiy2G8DPeE
— Dallas Jackals (@DallasJackals) January 19, 2021
According to the Dallas Jackals, there will be a dispersal draft (potential redistribution of Jackals players throughout the league for the 2021 season) because of the decision to have their inaugural season in 2022 instead of 2021. This is what Jackals president Scott Sonju said about the challenge according to the Dallas Jackals.
“The pandemic has obviously had a far-reaching impact on many businesses. For an expansion sports team it presents very specific challenges, from properly cultivating community and business relationships, to securing visas for international players – there are many challenges in a normal climate, let alone in the unusual climate of this past year.”
While understandably frustrating for Jackals fans, this is not unusual in the sporting world. In fact, in the sport of rugby league, the Ottawa Aces XIII similarly deferred their entry into League One from 2021 to 2022. The reason for both pro sports teams was COVID-19.
There is however good news for both teams in 2022. The White House coronavirus advisor in the U.S. Dr. Anthony Fauci said that the U.S. will return to some degree of normality around the same time as Canada. This is according to Rachel Aiello of CTV News.
Lastly, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau said that there should be enough vaccines for everyone by the end of September, according to Jacques Gallant of the Toronto Star.
What does this mean for the Dallas Jackals in the future?
For the Jackals, it is all about preparing for the 2022 MLR season. There are hurdles the Dallas Jackals must face. One is the fact that the players have already signed. Will they play for the Jackals in 2022 after possibly playing for another MLR team in 2021? However, what should not be questioned in the future and viability of Dallas as an MLR market.
This is what George Killebrew, commissioner of MLR, said according to the Dallas Jackals website on the viability of Dallas as a pro rugby union market.
“DFW is a top-five television market and a region that is important to MLR’s long-term growth strategy. Scott Sonju has earned enormous respect, with a proven track record running professional sports organizations. He believes in doing things right and setting up the Jackals for lasting success.”
— George Killebrew (@GeorgeKillebrew) January 19, 2021
Dallas will now look to 2022 to spread awareness of their new professional rugby union team at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas. Unfortunately, this does mean the MLR schedule will need to be adjusted.
Probable schedule change to MLR 2021 fixture list
Understandably, the 2021 schedule is going to change, which has been confirmed by MLR on Twitter. The question is how will the MLR season and playoff format change this year. The original plan was to have 16 games, which includes eight games at home and eight games on the road (the Toronto Arrows may not play home games this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic). Then there would be an Eastern Conference and a Western Conference Final. These would be the top two seeds of the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference facing each other. This would be followed by a game knockout-style format for the playoffs.
It is still possible to keep the playoff format for MLR. Before the Jackals withdrew, the Western Conference had more teams than the Eastern Conference. Now, both the Eastern and Western Conference has six teams each. The question is ‘how will the 2021 MLR season schedule change?’
— Major League Rugby (@usmlr) June 5, 2020
They will have to remove all the games the Dallas Jackals were going to play in 2021. They would then have to adjust the schedule, especially for teams expected to face the Jackals in the 2021 MLR season. As of right now, the MLR will start on March 20, and considering the Jackals withdrawal, the Toronto Arrows will now play on March 28.
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