Rugby League has long been a sport that has its roots firmly in the so-called “M62 corridor”.
Despite various attempts over the years to expand this - there are teams in Wales, London and France now in different leagues of the sport - many have not being successful. Toronto Wolfpack epitomised this, failing to complete the season in 2020 after financial issues forced them to forfeit their debut campaign.
However, the Wolfpack are back for 2021 with 13 other teams across the United States and Canada.
A statement from narugbyleague.com was released on 31st March, detailing all the information and can be found in full here.
Some of the crucial parts, however, are included below.
The “NARL” is said to be a “14 team competition that will play its first round of fixtures on the weekend of June 19 in Brooklyn, and June 20 in Las Vegas”.
There will be three Conferences, breaking down as follows:
East Coast Conference: Atlanta Rhinos, Boston Thirteens, Brooklyn Kings, Cleveland RL, New York RL and Washington Cavalry.
West Coast Conference: Austin Armadillos, Las Vegas Blackjacks, Phoenix Venom, Portland Loggers, San Diego Swell and San Francisco Rush.
This leaves the two Canadian teams, with the statement continuing as follows:
“Due to COVID-19 regulations, a Canada Cup will be played between Toronto Wolfpack and Ottawa Aces before both teams enter the East Coast Conference in 2022.”
In a similar move to Super League, the statement also confirmed that “all games will be played at a single venue or festival style that will see all teams from their respective conference play in one stadium on one day with no fans to keep everyone safe”.
Robert Curtis, the NARL’s Chief Operating Officer, spoke of the creation of the league and called it “the next big evolutionary step for Rugby League”.
All games, it was confirmed, “will be broadcast on NARL’s exclusive online streaming partner SportsFlick”.
This is a move that Rugby League has needed for years. Rather than parachute a team into Super League from North America, a formation of a competitive league in the US and Canada is surely the right way to approach the growth of the game.
This is an exciting development in the world of Rugby League and one that we at VAVEL - across both sides of the pond - will be following closely.
Pick a team, and prepare for more Rugby League this summer!