Ontario v Chicago

By Brian Lowe, Date: 5/6/19. (Photo Credit Carolyn Ritchie)

The planned exhibition game between the Chicago Stockyarders and Canadian provincial team Ontario has hit a bump in the road and may or may not go ahead as scheduled.

The game was tentatively set down for this summer, potentially in July and possibly to be played in Toronto, but according to Midwest Rugby League (MWRL) CEO Mike Featherstone the Stockyarders have encountered an unforeseen glitch.

“We have got some scheduling issues and we could not raise a team to go to Ontario as more and more of our guys have other travel commitments in Union,” Featherstone told RugbyLeaguePlanet.

“We are looking to host Ontario and we are working with other parties on other games.”

The Ontario Rugby League (ORL) says it is aware of the Stockyarders’ issues and will work on rescheduling the game once the Chicago team’s status becomes clearer.

At the same time, the MWRL is still going ahead with plans to play two other exhibition games during the summer against newly established team the Columbus Voyagers in Ohio and another potential new club in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

“We’re currently in talks with the city of Columbus sports commission. We still like August 19th,” says Voyagers owner Frank Mitchell.

As well as that, the MWRL is also keen to organize a return game with the Cleveland franchise that faced off against the Stockyarders in a Nines format last summer in Chi-town.

Meantime, there has been a change at the top of the ORL with former president Carolyn Ritchie calling time on her run in the position.

“I’ve been involved with the ORL since 2012 when I started taking their game photos. I was president for two years, going into my third,” said Ritchie reflecting on her time in the top job.

“I thought many positive things happened in those years including: new kit for all domestic teams, as well as the provincial team, Brantford holding its first home game in league history and our first ever provincial tour to Chicago.

“I wish the league the best moving forward.”

Ritchie has been replaced by Ryan Murray. He was president of the Canada Rugby League Association for less than a year when he stepped aside from that position in July 2018.

“It was an amazing experience and I was able to meet some incredible people from all over the world,” Murray said at the time.