Major League Rugby rocked by second withdrawal as New York Ironworkers pull out of 2024 season
Major League Rugby (MLR) has encountered another setback in the lead-up to the 2024 season, as the New York Ironworkers officially withdraw from the competition. This marks the second franchise loss for MLR, following the Toronto Arrows’ exit.
The decision to pull out comes as a result of venture capital firm Bolton Equities, the team’s owner, opting not to fund the Ironworkers’ operations for the upcoming year. Despite being crowned champions in 2022, the team faced challenges in securing fresh investment, leading to the unfortunate but inevitable outcome of folding and stepping away from the league.
The New York Ironworkers will not compete in the 2024 season.
While the team’s withdrawal is unfortunate news, MLR remains committed to success into the 2024 season and beyond.
— Major League Rugby (@usmlr) December 6, 2023
In response to the development, MLR Chief Executive Nic Benson expressed gratitude to the Ironworkers’ leadership for their role in expanding rugby in New York. While acknowledging the withdrawal as “painful and difficult,” Benson remains optimistic about the league’s future.
“While this is unfortunate news, Major League Rugby remains strong, and the owners across the league are committed to success heading into 2024 and beyond,” Benson stated.
“Major League Rugby is embarking on its own positive evolution as a professional sports league. We feel for those impacted by New York’s decision to withdraw, knowing it was a painful and difficult one to make.
“But we also remain confident in the course the league and its owners have charted, leading the way for the success of the sport in advance of North America hosting the Rugby World Cup in 2031. We remain committed to growth and look forward to a thrilling 2024 season.”
Toronto Arrows’ withdrawal was confirmed days before that of their New York counterparts. Americas Rugby News reported that an investment deal had collapsed and the franchise faced the significant challenge of overcoming the passing of their majority owner and co-founder, Bill Webb, who died in August.
— Toronto Arrows RC (@TorontoArrows) November 28, 2023
As MLR navigates these franchise losses, the league is focused on overcoming challenges, ensuring stability and continuing its positive evolution as a professional sports entity. The forthcoming 2024 season promises to be pivotal, with the remaining 11 teams committed to the success and growth of Major League Rugby.