NARL Fixtures released: Rugby League in North America starts May 2022
(Photo by Anatoliy Cherkasov/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Fans of Rugby League in North America will be eagerly awaiting the spring of 2022 as it was announced today that the first round of fixtures will take place on Saturday, 21st May.

On the North American Rugby League (NARL) social media channels, the announcement was made showing six teams playing three different fixtures - apparently all on the same day. 

  • Five teams clear - with one to be announced 

Within the fixtures, five teams have been confirmed to be playing the opening round of games in four months time. 

Toronto Wolfpack, New York RL, Atlanta Rhinos, Cleveland RL and DC Cavalry are the known teams, with the remaining spot simply down as “Team Six”.

Alongside the fixtures, the post also said the following:

Schedule is subject to change; venues will be announced in the coming weeks. Tickets will go on sale Monday February 21 exclusively on Ticket Co.”

This will be a welcome announcement for Rugby League fans in North America, with Toronto Wolfpack’s stay in Super League lasting less than a season in 2020.

Back in June 2021 - with only the East Coast surviving the original intended 14 team debut season - the decision was made to delay NARL until the spring of 2022.

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  • What was said back in June 2021

The North American Rugby League (NARL) announced today that it will now launch in the Spring of 2022,” a statement said at the time of the original delay.

In March 2021 the NARL made public their intention to bring professional rugby league to North America with the introduction of a new league and starting line-up of 14 teams from across the United States and Canada.

“The original launch date of June 19th, 2021 was scheduled; however, several factors have made this overly ambitious. 

“Inflated travel and insurance costs along with rigorous health and safety restrictions have already seen a need to rationalize the proposed structure for the West Coast, and now the NARL has taken the prudent and measured steps of delaying the full competition until the Spring of 2022.

“The NARL understands the importance of optimal delivery in every aspect of the competition for its founding year and will take this opportunity for organizational restructuring as well as welcoming new board members and investors into the fold.

“This additional time will also benefit the sponsors. The competition has attracted a number of global brands who are extremely enthusiastic to partner with the NARL since we announced the launch earlier this year. This extension will allow these partnerships to be developed and delivered with a more targeted and measured approach.”

The NARL Chief Operating Officer Robert Curtis stated back in June, “We as an organization came forward with tremendous enthusiasm and relentless motivation. In the process we were greeted by an incredible response from supporters and rugby league fans who wished us well and were excited to see the development of professional rugby league in North America.”

In our desire to meet the expectations of this new and dynamic attention for the sport we are so eager to grow, we tried to rush operations to put teams on the pitch too early. 

“We are thankful to our amazing fans for their support right out of the gate, we never expected to be embraced so well, so quickly. Moving forward our focus is on creating the best possible product for Spring 2022; exceeding expectations, showcasing the best rugby league, and creating an experience your loyalty deserves.”

“The NARL is committed to supporting all clubs in building their organizations and developing their player pools both internationally and domestically. The new schedule gives teams ten extra months to coach and cultivate their talent and bring awareness of the game to more sports fans across North America. 

The NARL and its parties will continue to share their progress and news, as well as their much anticipated online stores launching the next few months in preparation for the 2022 inaugural season,” the statement concluded.

  • Will North America finally get Rugby League off the ground?

Although promising, fans will be nervous around the lack of announcement of a venue, a broadcaster or the identity of the final team, simply branded “Team Six”. Perhaps this may be an invitational team, or even a cross code squad from Union franchises that are already successful in MLR (Major League Rugby).

NARL will be desperate to learn from past mistakes, and perhaps this lack of detail is precisely the right call - not promising or overcommitting to agreements before insurance contracts can be finalised.

Hopefully, come May 2022 we will finally see the birth of Rugby League in North America.