North American Rugby League

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North American Rugby League (NARL)
Official NARL logo.png
SportRugby league
Inaugural season2022
CEORobert Curtis
Number of teams6
Countries Canada (1 team)
 United States (5 teams)
Broadcast partnerSportsFlick

The North American Rugby League (NARL) is an upcoming rugby league club competition in North America. At launch, the league announced fourteen teams; twelve from United States and two from Canada.[1][2] An inaugural season was planned for 2021 but was deferred until 2022 due to increased health and safety needs regarding COVID-19 and insurance and travel costs. The league will now launch with 6 foundation teams, 5 from the United States and former professional Super League member club Toronto Wolfpack from Canada. The first season was supposed to kick off 21st May 2022, but failed to do so.



An American based rugby league competition was first established in 1998 when the American NRL was formed. The organisation ran the AMNRL league competition and organised the USA national team and their fixtures. This competition lasted for 13 years until seven clubs left to form the USARL, citing the poor running of the competition as their reason for a breakaway.

The USARL was founded in 2011, however the AMNRL was still active, meaning there were two major rugby league competitions in the US. The AMNRL suffered from competition with the USARL and did not run a competition in 2013. The following year the AMNRL folded and handed over all control of the USA national team to the USARL making it the sole governing body and league competition in the US.

2016–2020: North American clubs in Britain[edit]

In 2016, the Toronto Wolfpack were founded and entered the British RFL system and were promoted to Super League in 2019. Following the success of the Wolfpack, two other clubs, Ottawa Aces and New York were formed and accepted into the RFL. However, Toronto withdrew from Super League after seven rounds following financial problems due to the covid pandemic and were not readmitted at the end of the 2020 season. Before the RFL accepting Ottawa and New York, the demise of Toronto and a report by then-Super League chief executive Robert Elstone saying there were no opportunities for rugby league in North America left doubts over transatlantic teams competing in the British rugby league system. A former trialist for the Wolfpack set up Cleveland Rugby League in 2018.

2021–present: Foundation[edit]

In March 2021 the North American Rugby League was announced and slated to include 14 founding teams: the two clubs previously accepted into the RFL (Ottawa and New York) as well as Toronto and Cleveland, three USARL clubs (Atlanta Rhinos, Boston Thirteens, and Brooklyn Kings) a former rugby union club and six new formerly clubs (Austin Armadillos, Las Vegas Blackjacks, Phoenix Venom, Portland Loggers, San Diego Swell, San Francisco Rush, and Washington D.C. Cavalry.

In April 2021, USARL issued a statement that NARL is not recognized or sanctioned by USARL (as the governing body for rugby league in the USA) and therefore anyone playing in the NARL was ineligible to play at international level.[3]

The inaugural season was due to start on June 19, 2021 with Boston hosting the first four Eastern Conference games and Las Vegas hosting the Western Conference games on 20 June, with all games to be streamed globally on SportsFlick. There are plans for clubs to draft 14 players who will be signed centrally by the NARL.[4] On May 12, the league announced that the Western Conference would be postponed to 2022 as the teams were unable to arrange adequate insurance for the players.[5]

On June 7 2021, Robert Curtis, the league's chief operating officer, announced that competition would be suspended until 2022 due to cost issues and health and safety restrictions relating to COVID-19.[6] Some friendly matches will be played and the Canada Cup will be contested by Toronto Wolfpack and Ottawa Aces.[6]

Following the announcement of the league's suspension, USARL issued a statement that all NARL teams and players would be welcome to join USARL for the 2021 season.[7]

The league has partnered with Italian sportswear company Macron, who will provide kits to all teams in the competition.[8]

In October 2021, the Ottawa Aces announced their relocation back to the United Kingdom, where they had been originally formed, opting out of the NARL.

The league announced in late 2021 that it intends to launch with just 6 foundation clubs in spring 2022, 5 from the United States plus Toronto Wolfpack from Canada.[9]

After an announcement for the 2022 season to start on May 21 followed by uncertainty, it was announced a day before on the NARL social media pages the expected kick off that there will be a pre-season trial on the 4th of June between Washington D.C. Cavalry and the Atlanta Rhinos. Atlanta won the match 34-24. [10] In July 2022, Cleveland Rugby League withdrew from the competition, leaving it with four teams.


The league will initially have teams in 6 North American markets, and plans to expand to 24 within 4 to 5 seasons.

The 4 confirmed foundation clubs are:

Locations of NARL teams for 2021 season

Future teams[edit]

The league initially announced 14 founding clubs in 2021 before delaying the initial season to 2022 and shrinking the inaugural competition to 6 clubs. With the exception of the Ottawa Aces, who opted out of NARL plans and relocated to Cornwall in the United Kingdom in late 2021, the announced clubs not included in the 2022 season schedule are expected to join the league at future date(s) to be determined,


Season North American Rugby League Champions Eastern Conference Winners Western Conference Winners Canada Cup Winner
2021 New Zealand Kiwis colours.svg Toronto Wolfpack


Championship Finals[edit]

Season Champions Score Runners-up Referee Venue Attendance Date
NARL Championship
2022 TBA TBA

Canada Cup Finals[edit]

Season Winners Score Losers Referee Venue Attendance Date
Canada Cup
2021 New Zealand Kiwis colours.svg Toronto Wolfpack 42 – 6 New Zealand colours.svg Washington D.C. Cavalry Lamport Stadium


18 September 2021

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bower, Aaron (April 4, 2021). "North America Rugby League examined - salary cap, players, impact on RFL and Super League". Hull Daily Mail. Retrieved April 15, 2021.
  2. ^ "NARL Press Release". North American Rugby League. North American Rugby League. Retrieved March 31, 2021.
  3. ^ Gordon, James (April 15, 2021). "New North American rugby league 'not sanctioned' by governing body". Love Rugby League. Retrieved April 15, 2021.
  4. ^ Ritchie, Dean. "North American Rugby League competition launches with eyes on recruiting NRL talent". Retrieved March 31, 2021.
  5. ^ "North American Rugby League:Western division suspended until 2022". May 13, 2021. Retrieved May 13, 2021.
  6. ^ a b "New North American rugby league shelved until 2022". June 7, 2021. Retrieved June 7, 2021.
  7. ^ Lowe, Brian. "USA Rugby League extends olive branch to NARL teams". Rugby League Planet. Retrieved July 2, 2021.
  8. ^ Macron partners with NARL
  9. ^ North American Rugby League competition “confident” of spring launch
  10. ^ Twitter Retrieved June 5, 2022. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links[edit]