Major League Rugby will begin later this month, but it will only have seven clubs to begin their inaugural season in cities of Glendale (an enclave of Denver), Austin, Houston, New Orleans, San Diego, Seattle, and Salt Lake City (will be known as the Utah Warriors). Expansion is obviously inevitable and probably will happen next year, but the question is where should a team go. One thing I think the league should consider is making it a 16 team league with two divisions (eight in each division). With that said, let’s look at the nine other candidates that MLR should consider expanding to:
New York City
I think there is team that is already being considered for the city and it’s being start up very soon. Aside from that though, New York should absolutely get an MLR franchise as it’s the biggest market in the country and there is a lot rugby played there. This is a no brainer.
Another place that is a hot bed for American rugby. Maybe it’s because of the Irish culture in the city, but lot’s of colleges play rugby there and there are good numbers of players in the city. Also, it’s a great sports market.
Chicago has hosted a few matches including Ireland vs New Zealand, but this is a big market that has a lot of rugby going on here. Plus there is a huge Irish population here as that could be catered to them as well.
I had a hard time deciding between Raleigh and Charlotte, but I thought the city with the biggest market should get it. When I lived in North Carolina I saw what the rugby culture was like there as I even got playing. Lots of tournaments of the South play there, so this would be a perfect city for a club.
I might be a little biased here as this is my hometown, but after I came back to live there I finally saw what the rugby culture was like there. There are so many bars there showing the Six Nations and even ones dedicated just to rugby. The citizens are also sports crazed, so they would probably love having a professional rugby team there.
Ever hear of Life University? No? Neither did I until I started playing rugby and watched college rugby tournaments as Life was a rugby powerhouse. Plus Atlanta is a huge market. This should be a no brainer
The Mid-Atlantic loves their rugby, but it’s also big in the City of Brotherly Love so this would be a perfect place for a club. And it would also develop rivalry with D.C. which is only a two hour trip down South.
I’ve been living in Cincinnati for the past two years, I’ve noticed that the state really likes rugby. And the perfect place for it? Columbus. The city is a college town with Ohio State there and with college kids around, the league can strike gold there.
The last spot was a difficult one as I had a lot of other cities I thought were deserving, but Canada shouldn’t be left out as that’s a country that loves rugby too. And with that, the fourth biggest city in the continent should be a great spot for a club. With a big market and in another country that is starting to really love rugby, you bet they need a team.
Nashville: It’s a college town, a great night life, and hosts tournaments there all the time. This would have been a good spot.
Tucson: Surprisingly, Arizona plays lots of rugby especially with the success of the University of Arizona rugby program there. I thought this city should have gotten it over New Orleans.
Los Angeles: The second biggest city in the country, yeah it’s a great place to put a team financially. Also with UCLA being a top program in College Rugby, you bet this city would embrace rugby.
San Francisco: They had a club here when PRO Rugby was a thing, but they do play rugby a lot in California including San Francisco, so this would be a compelling place to put a team.
Dallas: I’m only putting them here because there is a strong possibility that they will get an expansion club in the upcoming seasons.
Vancouver: Another great spot for rugby as, like I said, Canada is really embracing rugby too. The Pacific Northwest plays lots of rugby so Vancouver is a good spot.
Minneapolis: They were supposed to get a club according a press release last May, but it seems like there won’t be. I could also see this being a good fit with all the rugby played there.
Kansas City: See Minneapolis above. Same exact thing.