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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Toulon Now Eyeing U.S. Venture


Toulon are the latest team clamoring for a piece of the American rugby pie. Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal, widely regarded for his ability to take the game to new places and to develop advantages for his team, stated during the season opening press conference that the club was going to develop a professional league in the United States with Toulon having a team in Miami. Reportedly Miami was chosen because it has a climate similar to Toulon. Additionally, it has been reported that the league would only last 2-3 months, lending to the thought that it would mostly be a reserve team with players needing more time being sent over.

PRO Rugby was quick to respond to any potential connection between Toulon's venture and the league stating on Twitter that they are "Very flattered but a surprise to us and completely untrue." With Toulon's announcement that makes just the latest group trying to get into America. PRO Rugby had a successful first season and are planning potential expansion to the East Coast and Canada. Major League Rugby has announced their intentions, at least once on Facebook. And then there is the Pro12.

Take the jump to read more.

Toulon's plan may work but like all of the above ventures it comes with risk. First and foremost Miami is not a rugby hotbed. That is not to take away from the passionate rugby community in the area but they don't have the same youth or club numbers as other areas of the country. Further, having a team of mainly overseas players isn't super attractive for American fans. Rugby is still niche, especially those following the Top 14 so even a very big name coming over, like Bryan Habana, probably isn't going to draw in too many folks.

The idea of having players that need playing time come over to the U.S. to get that time is a good one. PRO Rugby has expressed that they could something similar and you've seen players like Dom Waldouck play in the league and then land back in Europe.

Like Pro12 expansion, seeing how Toulon's venture shakes out will be interesting to see.

4 comments:

  1. Is Major League Rugby legitimate? I know something of its working title has been floating around for a while but does anyone know whether they are serious or just another NRFL? All hot air and bravado.

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  2. There was a Major League Rugby entity back in the 90s/2000s that failed. The current iteration seems to be NRFL part deux.

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  3. I think the author's underestimate South Florida's rugby culture. Yes, it will be in Miami, but Ft. Lauderdale, Boca Raton, West Palm Beach are very close. Also, in terms of Men's teams, there are two senior men's teams in Miami (Miami RFC and Miami Tridents) with corresponding youth divisions; as well as college and women's teams.

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  4. 1. Major League Rugby isn't sanctioned by USA Rugby. Every "Pro Organization" that has ever come out without sanctioning from USA Rugby has failed. Anyone can create a website and a social media page but it takes money and a real product to sign professional contracts and get buy in from USA Rugby.

    2. Not to ruin anyone's hopes in FL but Boudjellal is notorious for making outrageous statements regarding Toulon. He said last year that Toulon was considering joining the Aviva Premiership because he wasnt happy with how Toulon was being treated in the Top 14. This sounds like one of his normal outbursts.

    It would be awesome if it happened though!

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