Jacksonville Axemen v Brooklyn Kings

By Brian Lowe, Date:17/4/19 (Photo Credit: Allene Rachal)

As the Rugby Football League (RFL) continues to do its due diligence on assessing a submission to establish a New York Rugby League (NYRL) team to enter League One in 2020, it has been revealed that the franchise has agreed to partner with USA Rugby League (USARL) LLC domestic clubs to further develop the game in America.

Danny Hanson, chairman of USARL LLC, which is the governing body for the national club competition, says for the better part of the last 18 months he has been discussing with NYRL franchise official Ricky Wilby, who leads the New York ownership group, on how the two organizations can work together to grow the game in America and have formed a working partnership.

“What they’re going to do is help us in growing the domestic competition and we fully endorse their efforts,” says Hanson.

“The NYRL franchise is giving us access to their media professionals and plans to introduce us to some sponsors to assist with funding the domestic competition.”

NYRL reached out to Hanson for endorsement from the LLC in September 2017. After some initial discussions, an endorsement letter was provided. This grew into an ongoing dialogue and eventual partnership.

Hanson says that the NYRL franchise will provide USARL domestic clubs access to its home field, which at this stage potentially could be Red Bull stadium in New Jersey, to play their All-Star games and Grand Final.

As for homegrown US players getting a chance to play for the New York team, he says that has been one of the topics of discussion.

“The NYRL franchise plans to make long term investments in the US and this includes assisting with elevating the level of play in the domestic competition so American players are competitive for positions with the NYRL side.”

As a sidebar issue, four-time USA club champions the New York Knights have notified the league that they will be sitting out the 2019 season due to problems finding enough administrative help. It means the North Conference will be reduced to six teams this season.

At the same time, the South Conference will expand to five teams this season with the inclusion of new club the Lakeland Renegades.

Hanson says he and the NYRL franchise are discussing the possibility for NYRL to enter a club team to play in the North Conference in 2020.

“The end goal is to help grow the domestic competition so we have a better level of player with the ability to move up to the next levels,” he says.

The USARL LLC chairman emphasizes that while the discussion continues, as the RFL is yet to make its final decision, the LLC has fully endorsed the NYRL franchise and is excited about the partnership.

“We’re still waiting for the final RFL decision, but what we’ve done is we’ve said as a domestic league we are behind what you’re doing, and we support what you’re doing.”