N.Y.-Based Team Applies To Follow Lead Of Toronto Wolfpack, Join RFL In '19
An application has "been formally lodged" to the Rugby Football League for a team based in N.Y. to join the British game’s professional leagues in '19, according to Aaron Bower of the London GUARDIAN. A Super League game could be taken to the U.S. next year should the application "be approved." A consortium, backed by two unnamed investors who will provide an initial $10M of funding, has applied to the RFL about a "second transatlantic team joining, following the success of Toronto Wolfpack," which was introduced to the third tier, League 1, this season. The club was promoted as champion, with "crowds of more than 7,000." The N.Y. side, like the Wolfpack, intends to start in League 1, "as opposed to automatic entry into a higher division such as the Super League or the Championship." Like Toronto, it would "pay for all visiting teams’ costs, including flights, accommodation and travel." The consortium, co-founded by Yorkshire-based entrepreneur Ricky Wilby, confirmed it has held discussions with some Super League clubs about taking a top-flight game to the U.S. in '18 to "whet" N.Y.'s appetite for rugby league. Wilby: "Should we be accepted, we'd like to take a Super League game there. We've spoken to one or two about it." The team would play home games at Major League Soccer club N.Y. Red Bulls' stadium, with the consortium confident it would be able to attract crowds in the region of 10,000. The project "also has the support of the city’s tourist board, New York City Go" (GUARDIAN, 10/15).
IN THE CROSSHAIRS: In Sydney, Dean Ritchie reported the consortium is ready to target National Rugby League players with A$1M ($780,000)-a-season offers to play rugby league in N.Y. Players including Johnathan Thurston, Cam Smith, Billy Slater, Jarryd Hayne, Paul Gallen and Greg Inglis "will be targeted" with the lure of living in N.Y. It could signal a U.S. return for Hayne, "who carved out a short yet successful NFL stint with the San Francisco 49ers." Player agent David Riolo said, "I think they will (target a big name). Maybe not a big-name player in his prime but there are still a lot of really big names doing really good things in their early 30s. Some of my clients like Ryan Hoffman, Smith, Gallen, the Morris twins [Josh and Brett], Trent Hodkinson -- they would all look at it to go." Another player agent, Steve Gillis, added, "They will be looking for the right character. Players who can entertain and have that x-factor, light up the stadium. Players like Thurston and Slater would be ideal." Clubs in the Championship "are allowed a marquee player who is exempt from the salary cap," and N.Y. officials have "already started discussing which Australian stars could fill that role." Agent Al Gainey, who has Inglis, Bryce Cartwright and Matt Moylan "on his books," said, "They would want to attract a big name to start" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 10/16).