Something new is coming the way of the US sports market – a professional rugby union league. It started on Sunday 18th April, with 5 fully professional teams playing in a league until July with the aim of introducing a competitive, elite level platform for the US domestic rugby community.
So put down your Trump banners, grab a supersize burger and have a look at the main pieces of information you need to know about PRO Rugby:
Which teams are playing?
All the teams are brand new and created for this league, so there shouldn’t be any affiliation clashes with existing teams.
Sacramento – Headed up by ex-Harlequins, Llanelli and Newcastle player Luke Gross who after playing in 3 Rugby World Cups has put on the coaching tracksuit.
San Franciso – Paul Keeler, an American with a long history in the domestic game is Head Coach.
San Diego – Coached by Irishman Ray Egan who has experience with Munster and Ireland at age group level.
Denver – Head Coach is Sean O’Leary who is Irish born but has spent most of his adult life coaching in the US.
Ohio – Head Coach is Paul Barford who was born in Leicester but has coached for the last 35 years in the US at most levels of the game.
Who is playing in the league?
All players will be centrally contracted and there is a limit of 5 overseas players per team.
There are a few big name signings such as Pedrie Wannenburg (Denver) and Mirco Bergamasco (Sacramento) and wages will range from $35k to just match fees.
Dom Waldouck, a former Heineken Cup winner with Wasps will also line up for Ohio.
Who is paying for this?
Most of the cost is being cared for by Doug Schoninger, who has made his money on Wall Street but doesn’t have a background in rugby. Schoninger has said he is committed to the project for 3 years and may then consider brining in other investors, or if things don’t go well, we imagine he may pull the plug.
The tournament is backed by USA Rugby and World Rugby.
Any other interesting tit bits?
There are a few law tweaks, such as as no draws!
The USA are the reigning Olympic rugby gold medal winners!
There are plans to extend the league in 2017 to include Canadian teams.
Matches will be played in stadia with relatively small capacities to ensure a good atmosphere.
Will George Clancy be referring?