USA Rugby and Major League Rugby (MLR) today announced a finalized strategic partnership centered around the shared goal of developing the game of rugby in the US.
Having worked closely through the league’s first season-and-a-half, MLR and the national governing body formally established a framework for collaboration on key areas of mutual interest including: driving rugby’s growth as a participation sport; high-performance pathways to ensure that MLR and the USA Rugby Men’s National Team are capturing the best available talent; and initiatives to propel rugby’s visibility and relevance in the North American sports landscape.
The execution of the sanctioning agreement is the first milestone in what both sides expect to be a long-lasting partnership. The agreement creates an initial framework for the collaboration and addresses a number of areas of mutual interest such as conduct of competitions, player welfare and safety, international releases and other logistical and administrative interactions between the two organizations, shared marketing initiatives and working high-performance partnership designed to build connections between MLR Teams and the US Men’s National Team.
“It’s been exciting over this first year-and-a-half with Major League Rugby, evaluating strengths and challenges in lead up to this completed agreement,” said USA Rugby CEO, Ross Young. “The advent of professional rugby is such a substantial step in advancement of the game, so we’re happy to have built a robust partnership to best find mutual support in each other.”
“This partnership is critical for rugby to reach its full potential in the United States,” said MLR Commissioner Dean Howes. “We have created the foundations of a partnership that aligns our goals so that we can work together to grow rugby’s share of the American sports market from youth participation through to MLR and the US national teams.”
Additionally, a Professional Advisory Board will be established with representative members from each organization and one from World Rugby. The committee will look to streamline communications and action items between both entities, ensuring all are aligned toward the development of professional standards of rugby in the United States.
Young continued, “I want to thank Dean Howes, Nic Benson and the team at MLR for their energy in this agreement, we very much look forward to this new chapter of American rugby.”
In an interview with FloRugby, Howes also indicated that Major League Rugby would like to finalize a similar agreement with Rugby Canada.