MLR to adopt bubble concept as backup plan


Major League Rugby 2021 in a bubble Image: Rugby United

With COVID-19 simply showing no signs of going away and the situation in the United States being of people living-on-the-edge kind, the Major League Rugby (MLR) wants to leave nothing to chance and is preparing for the possibility of staging its fourth season next year in a quarantined bubble format. They want to adopt the bubble concept as a backup plan if the coronavirus situation does not get stabilized.

Major League Rugby is a professional rugby union competition and the top-level championship for clubs in North America. In the 2021 season, it will be contested by 13 teams: Twelve from the United States and one from Canada.

In March this year, Major League Rugby announced it had canceled the remainder of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 striking the US with increasing intensity. The start-up domestic rugby union competition was just five weeks into its third campaign, with George Killebrew as its new Commissioner.

“Our advantage is we’re watching in real time college football in the United States with the NCAA. We’re watching the National Football League (NFL). We’ve learned from the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Hockey (NHL,)” Killebrew told mediapersons.

“Taking best practices from all that, our advantage is we’re able to sit back and watch for a while. We’re the beneficiary of not really having to go face-to-face until mid- to late March, so we’ll continue to monitor it throughout the Fall and winter. We do have contingency plans, our intent is to get in 16 matches, but we do have in our back pocket a reduced-season plan, we have a bubble plan that we’re going to keep in our back pocket until we need it,” he said.

The 2021 season is due to start on March 20th and will continue for 18 weeks of regular-season action.

Matches will be televised domestically on CBS Sports Network and Fox Sports 2 among other national and local market platforms. The MLR championship game will be broadcast on the main CBS network on August 1st.

Expansion teams from Dallas and Los Angeles will join Major League Rugby for the 2021 season. However, talks with an expansion group from Hawaii have been put on hold for now.

The Dallas Jackals are a professional rugby team of MLR, the highest level of rugby competition in North America. The Jackals were named as an expansion team in 2020 and will play their inaugural season in 2021.

On May 28, 2020, the LA Giltinis were introduced as an expansion team based in Los Angeles, set to begin competition in the 2021 Major League Rugby season.

According to media reports, MLR expansion fees are now $10m, with $15m in assets expected also to be in place.

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