A new North American Rugby League (NARL) featuring 14 teams from the US and Canada will launch this summer.
The first round of games will take place over the weekend of June 19-20 in Brooklyn and Las Vegas. In line with COVID-19 regulations, all games during the inaugural season will be played in a ‘single venue or festival style’ that will see all teams play in one stadium on one day with no fans.
The competition will be split into three conferences. The East Coast Conference will feature the Atlanta Rhinos, Boston Thirteens, Brooklyn Kings, Cleveland Rugby League, New York Rugby League and Washington Cavalry, while the West Coast Conference will be made up of the Austin Armadillos, Las Vegas Blackjacks, Phoenix Venom, Portland Loggers, San Diego Swell and San Francisco Rush.
Due to COVID-19 regulations, a Canada Cup will be played between Toronto Wolfpack, formerly of the UK-based Super League, and the Ottawa Aces before both teams enter the East Coast Conference in 2022.
NARL’s head of operations Robert Curtis said: “I’m delighted to introduce the North America Rugby League to rugby league fans around the world in what we firmly believe is the next big evolutionary step for rugby league.
“The NARL is the culmination of years of research and market testing and has been designed to bring you the hardest hitting, fastest and most exciting sport on the planet. Matches begin this summer. It’s time to get excited about a new class of contact sport.”
The NARL will provide competition for the existing USA Rugby League (USARL), whose season is due to get underway on June 5. Curtis said the NARL would not be a direct rival of USARL.
“We see NARL as an addition to the existing rugby league structures in the United States and certainly do not see ourselves as a ‘rival’ or ‘rebel’ league,” he added. “Our sole aim is to grow the fantastic sport of rugby league in North America and create a legacy for generations to come.”
NARL games will be broadcast by the league’s exclusive online streaming partner, SportsFlick.
Image: North American Rugby League