North America to launch professional rugby union league
North America competition contested by six teams, taking place in 2016
Canadian sides will join the competition in 2017
New Americas Six Nations tournament to take place early next year
The startling growth of rugby union across the world is set to continue as the USA confirmed their first professional club set up is set to begin in April 2016.
The league, which was sanctioned by USA and World rugby, was announced in New York on Monday and will be contested by six city-based teams, made up of majority US-qualified players as each team will be allowed no more than five non-North American players.
Canadian sides are then set to join the competition in 2017.
“As the fastest growing team sport in the USA, it is time to have a sanctioned professional competition,” said USA Rugby chairman Bob Latham.
“We are very happy to partner with the Professional Rugby Organisation (Pro Rugby) in taking this step to popularise the game, to inspire Americans to fall in love with rugby, and to show the rugby world what American players can do.”
Brett Gosper, chief executive of World Rugby, added: “We welcome North American teams into the international rugby family.”
The US and Canada national teams ended the Rugby World Cup bottom of their respective Pools with four defeats, however, both gave spirited accounts of themselves throughout the competition.
This is only the latest example of growth as internationally, the new Americas Six Nations tournament, involving the USA, Canada, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and Chile, is likely to be played in February and March.
Meanwhile, Premiership Rugby also confirmed last month that London Irish will play their “home” match against reigning champions Saracens in New York early next year – which will be the first competitive European club match to be played in the USA.