Chicago Hounds to Compete in the 2023 MLR Season; Miami Sharks to Join in 2024
DALLAS (Feb. 8, 2023) – Major League Rugby (MLR) – the highest level of rugby competition in North America – will kick off its sixth season of professional competition on February 17, 2023, with 12 league teams competing for the MLR Shield in the United States and Canada.
The league’s newest expansion team, the Chicago Hounds, will play its inaugural season in 2023, with home games at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview, Illinois, just outside Chicago. Today MLR announced the addition of the Miami Sharks, which will officially begin competition during the 2024 season. The Miami group is led by Ronaldo “Kony” Strazzolini, Alejandro Macfarlane, and Marcos Galperin. More details about the Sharks franchise will be announced in the coming months.
“We are excited to create a rugby experience in South Florida that will wake the Latin passion in the community and generate a sense of belonging,” said Miami Sharks co-owner Marcos Galperin.
Select MLR matches will be televised on FOX Sports 1 and FOX Sports 2, with the opening weekend of MLR’s 18-week regular season featuring the San Diego Legion hosting the Utah Warriors at Snapdragon Stadium on Saturday, Feb. 18, at 7:00 p.m. EST on FS2. The Seattle Seawolves will host the New York Ironworkers at 9:30 PM EST on FS1.
“Nationally broadcast games on FOX Sports exposes us to new fans, while giving us more opportunity to expand our reach and engagement with current fans,” said MLR Deputy Commissioner Bill Goren. “North America is loving Major League Rugby – from the intensity and excitement of the games, to the iconic, core values of the sport. Just like the league, rugby fans in America and Canada are unique and passionate.”
All matches not televised nationally on FS1/FS2 are available for fans to stream live and for free on TheRugbyNetwork.com.
In 2023, MLR is continuing its commitment to growing the sport in the U.S. and Canada with grassroots initiatives in every team market. The league’s Grassroots Development Incentive (GDI) program allows teams to proactively promote rugby participation within their respective markets, while solidifying local player pathways and building further community engagement.
During the offseason MLR added new sponsors in RTIC, Thorne and OPRO while continuing to engage existing partners American Airlines, Olli Salumeria and more.
“MLR is continually working to innovate and grow alongside its partners and sponsors, understanding our fans and the power of their support helps us continue to deliver value for our partners and grow our commercial footprint year over year,” said MLR Chief Commercial Officer Harry Hardy. “MLR is uniquely positioned in key media markets to help grow the game of rugby, while helping our partners build their own fan base. In the next decade, you will see a period of significant rugby expansion, as MLR plays a key role in building the blueprint and infrastructure for back-to-back Rugby World Cups in America in 2031 and 2033.”
Last season, Rugby NY – now the Ironworkers – took home the Major League Rugby Championship Shield, defeating the Seattle Seawolves, 30-15 live on FOX. This year’s Conference Finals are scheduled for July 1 and July 2, 2023. The 2023 Major League Rugby Finals will be held on July 8. Locations TBD.
About Major League Rugby:
Major League Rugby is a professional sports league entering its sixth season that represents the highest level of rugby competition in North America. The League evolved from seven teams in 2018 to 12 teams in 2023, featuring 11 from the United States and one from Canada. Matches are televised on Fox Sports, among other national and local market platforms. Select matches are available to stream live in North America on The Rugby Network, and all matches are available on The Rugby Network for international fans. MLR prides itself in fostering intense and high-stakes competition, while bringing together a passionate community built on the values of Respect, Inclusivity, and Tradition. For more information about MLR, visit www.MajorLeague.Rugby
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