The Major League Rugby Championship was this afternoon, with Rugby New York taking the crown in a really good match. The MLR has gone through some growing pains this year, with multiple teams breaking rules and struggling to pay players their fair share, however it is still growing. Next year we could see major improvements in how players are paid and organizations are ran. By the time the Rugby World Cup comes around in 2031, we could very well see the MLR become a premier sporting league much like how the MLS grew.
My question to the audience is this: With the advent of said major rugby competition, will the sport of rugby have to compete with football? My personal answer? The MLR plays in the Spring, away from the Fall season of college football and the NFL. This helps for sure, but in terms of how Spring football leagues have gone, may not be feasible. The key word here, is may, because rugby is a completely different sport with more potential because of a higher degree of talent. These Spring football leagues employ guys that can't make it to the NFL, so it's kind of the Walmart version of the NFL (No offense to Walmart I'm a regular) and not nearly as entertaining. The MLR, though American rugby is "worse" than rugby around the world, has the potential to get higher degrees of talent. Homegrown, imported, wherever. The GOAL is homegrown and not becoming the professional rugby retirement home like the MLS is to soccer, but for now professional rugby takes what it can get on a PRIVATE budget, and USA RUGBY needs to focus on building the college, high school, and youth programs. The MLR has the ability, as does USA Rugby, but it will take time. A decade is the perfect amount. TLDR version, the MLR needn't worry about the NFL, and should focus on building until the 2031 Cup comes around to be the peak of development and the thing that shoots rugby into the mainstream. Let me know your thoughts below or over social media!
Burn Notice: 8/10 Rugby rising