The radical new league trying to poach rugby’s biggest stars

The National Rugby Football League, which has ties to the NFL, is set to be launched in 2022 with a salary cap equivalent to Premiership Rugby’s £7 million limit.

That is 18 times the salary cap of Major League Rugby, the existing pro league in North America.

One MLR team executive called the NRFL salary figures “insane.”

There are more questions than answers about the proposed North American rugby union league at present, but that doesn’t make the venture any less exciting.

“Our ambition is to be the biggest league in the world,” Michael Clements, the NRFL commissioner, told The Daily Telegraph.

Asked whether the likes of England lock Maro Itoje or New Zealand fly-half Beauden Barrett would feature on the shopping list, Clements said: “Our goal is to put the best product on the pitch, so we will need some of the best -athletes, whether or not they are the names you mentioned I can’t say.”

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The NRFL has already established a relationship with leading rugby agent Hilton Houghton, who represents South Africa captain Siya Kolisi and several other Springbok stars.

“They want to make it the Hollywood of rugby,” Houghton said. “This won’t be a dumping ground for international players. It will be more like the IPL players, where you bring a Ben Stokes or AB de Villiers as your sprinkling of stardust on top of largely domestic squads.”

Among the league’s backers is the NFL Alumni, an association for retired American football players. As well as planning to bring in crossover athletes from the NFL, the league will adjust several laws to appeal to the American demographic.


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The partners of rugby players in the UK are having to spend a lot more time with their other halfs due to the current lockdown.

Here we get to know the people behind the England, Scotland and Wales stars.

1. ANNABEL FIELD (HUW JONES)

Scotland centre Huw Jones is unafraid to show his love for girlfriend Annabel Field, describing the diminutive beauty as ‘his everything’ in an Instagram post. The couple are thought to have met in Glasgow but spend their time criss-crossing the globe – racking up visits to Monaco, Barcelona and the Bahamas in 2019 alone. 

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Happy Easter little bunnies 🐰 🍫

A post shared by Annabel Field (@annabelfield) on

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