Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Rumor: New York Getting Pro Rugby League Team

According to a report in The Daily Mail New York could be on their way to getting a rugby league franchise in the very near future. Given the success of the Toronto Wolfpack both on and off the field this year it makes sense that other parts of North America would be tested. The Wolfpack are well on their way to promotion in their first year of existence and they have regularly averaged crowds around 7,000 fans. That was needed given that they had to pay the expenses of incoming teams.

The New York franchise could join League One like the Wolfpack did this year and move their way up or they could be brought straight into the English Super League or Championship if a licensing system is brought back into play. For New York to even be admitted to League One another team would have to fold or merge with another team in order to make room in the competition as Rugby League officials say the competition is full.

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Reportedly the New York franchise is backed by the same people behind the Wolfpack, which means they have money to see it through. A New York franchise would be more of a risk than a Toronto franchise in many ways. The New York market is full of competing teams in summertime and Toronto had a history of bringing in big league crowds ahead of the Wolfpack's introduction. Expenses will be higher in New York and then throw in that they will have to pay for travel and it can get very expensive.

All of that said, Toronto has shown that a trans-Atlantic model can work if all the right pieces are in place. New York would also be a very attractive place for players wanting to try something new. Add in the strong rugby league community in New York--three of the top USARL franchises are in New York--and you could have something. How it would work with union is up in the air but if Toronto is the example it shouldn't impact too much given that the Wolfpack had a heavy English and Australasian side.

The team could reportedly be announced as soon as October ahead of the Rugby League World Cup in Australia, New Zealand, and Papual New Guinea. There is a big push for North America to continue to develop rugby league as they get set to host the World Cup in 2025. 

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