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Major League Rugby adding three teams, regional conferences for 2020

Major League Rugby will be divided into Western and Eastern conferences next year following the addition of three new teams for the league’s third season. The new teams are the New England Free Jacks, the Washington DC-based Old Glory DC and Atlanta’s Rugby ATL.

To help ease travel costs, regional conferences have been created for the 12-team league. The Western Conference comprises the Seattle Seawolves, Glendale Raptors (Colorado), San Diego Legion, Utah Warriors, Houston SaberCats and Austin Elite. The Eastern Conference will feature Rugby United New York, Toronto Arrows, Nola Gold (New Orleans) plus the three new arrivals.

Each team will play the other teams in their conference home and away, for a total of 10 games, plus six cross-conference games, three home and three away. Following the play-offs, the two conference champions will meet in the final on June 28, 2020.

Rugby United New York owner James Kennedy told The Guardian he was “really excited” to have “less stress on the players due to less travel, games against traditional rivals in Boston and DC and opportunity to bring in revenue via a conference title sponsor”.

MLR has media-rights deals with ESPN+ and CBS Sports Network.