HomeInvestment and OwnershipMLR announces partnership with USA Rugby and World Rugby for North Carolina-based team

MLR announces partnership with USA Rugby and World Rugby for North Carolina-based team

MLR announces partnership with USA Rugby and World Rugby for North Carolina-based team

USA Rugby, World Rugby and Major League Rugby have unveiled a strategic collaboration to introduce a new MLR expansion club, Anthem Rugby Carolina (RC), in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The fledgling team will participate in the 2024 MLR season and host home matches at the 10,500-capacity American Legion Memorial Stadium, a venue currently utilised for high school sporting events.

This addition will mark a return to the two-conference system for Major League Rugby, a move welcomed by Nic Benson, CEO of MLR, who sees Anthem RC as a pivotal player in development and growth opportunity for rugby in the United States.

“The launch of Anthem RC is a game-changer in this shared journey to grow and enhance the game of rugby in the US, offering a clear pathway for player development and greater opportunity for USA Rugby as North America gears up for the Rugby World Cup,” Benson said.

“We’re grateful to the leadership of both World Rugby and USA Rugby for their investment in this endeavour, knowing that it helps to lay a sure-footed foundation that will anchor the continued expansion of the game in the US.”

Ross Young, CEO of USA Rugby, was similarly enthusiastic about the venture:

“This remarkable collaboration between MLR, USA Rugby, and World Rugby is an inspiring example of progress we can look forward to as rugby in America begins a new trajectory.

“Anthem RC provides a truly unique opportunity for accelerated development with USA Rugby High Performance while continuing to bolster MLR as a key pathway for the USA Men’s Eagles.”

Alan Gilpin, CEO of World Rugby, added, “Working with strategic partners in the USA, and backed by our executive board, we are activating a transformative and long-term growth plan for rugby in the US that will enable a great sporting nation, and the sport as a whole, to unlock the true potential of hosting men’s and women’s Rugby World Cups in 2031 and 2033 respectively.

“This ambitious plan is centred around making the sport more relevant and accessible to more people in the US, a nation that loves sport and events, anchored in entertainment.

“In addition to accelerating the clear potential of women’s rugby and cementing sevens in USA sports culture, we must sustainably grow the elite men’s game and for the USA Eagles national team to be successful on the world stage.

“This type of partnership has proven successful for RWC 2023 quarter-finalists Fiji with the establishment of the Drua, and we are excited about the huge potential of Anthem RC, not just as a pathway, but as a major franchise within a long-term vision for MLR success, shared by all stakeholders.”

The collaboration model, which has proved successful with Fiji’s Drua in Super Rugby, is seen as crucial to the long-term vision for MLR success, with the potential to drive the growth of the elite men’s game.

While the introduction of Anthem RC follows the withdrawal of Rugby New York from MLR and financial challenges faced by other teams, the league has taken steps to enhance commercial revenue. A recent partnership with Legends, a premium experiences company, focuses on global partnerships, digital marketing and business intelligence to boost fan engagement and optimise revenue generation.

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