Web Stories Saturday, February 24

USA Rugby, Major League Rugby (MLR) and World Rugby announced a partnership on Friday to launch a new expansion club to promote the development of the game in the U.S. as the country prepares to host the Rugby World Cup.

The new club Anthem Rugby Carolina (RC), mainly featuring young Americans, is to be based in Charlotte, North Carolina, and will join the 2024 MLR season, playing at the American Legion Memorial Stadium.

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

The U.S. will host the men’s Rugby World Cup for the first time in 2031, and the women’s tournament in 2033. The national team is currently ranked 17th in the world, and failed to qualify for last year’s World Cup.

Anthem RC, backed by World Rugby and USA Rugby, hope to greatly accelerate the high-performance objective by supporting the long-term progress of the USA national team as they bid to qualify for the 2027 Rugby World Cup in Australia.

“This ambitious plan is centred around making the sport more relevant and accessible to more people in the U.S., a nation that loves sport and events, anchored in entertainment,” World Rugby Chief Executive Alan Gilpin said.

“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.”

Gilpin also said this type of partnership had already proved successful in Fiji, who reached the quarter finals at last year’s World Cup, with the establishment in 2022 of the Drua team, who are based in the country and compete in Super Rugby.

The MLR season begins in March when Anthem RC kick off at home to New England Free Jacks. The club’s roster features players from various MLR teams who are eligible to compete on behalf of the USA in international competition.

Anthem Rugby Carolina will return the league to 12 teams and two conferences after the recent withdrawal of the Toronto Arrows and Rugby New York, who were MLR champions in 2022.

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