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Major League Rugby to add Washington D.C. franchise

Major League Rugby, a new rugby union competition in the United States, is set to launch a new franchise in the capital of Washington, D.C.

The inaugural MLR season got underway in April and currently features teams based in Austin, Houston, Glendale, New Orleans, San Diego, Seattle and Salt Lake City. An eighth team based in New York is scheduled to join the competition next year.

The group behind a new Washington-based team, DCMLR, has set its sights on joining the league by no later than 2020.

In a statement reported by UK newspaper The Guardian, DCMLR chairman Chris Dunlavey said: “We’re extremely excited at the prospect of bringing professional rugby to DC.

“Our experience, our network, our intuition and our market research all tell us the same thing: there is a big appetite for rugby in the DC region, with more than 190 active clubs featuring over 7,500 players. That’s a lot of potential supporters for this team. If professional rugby can work anywhere in the US, it can work in DC.”

Dunlavey added that the ownership group is considering letting fans name the team, whose home stadium has yet to be finalised. The Guardian reported that Audi Field, the new 20,000-seat home of Major League Soccer team D.C. United, would be too big.

MLR commissioner Dean Howes added: “We think Washington DC will be an exciting and growing market for us. With New York committed and now DC coming on board, we can envision a robust rivalry blossoming between those two clubs. As important, having these professional teams in major east coast cities shows all of the young players in this part of the country that there is a future for them in our sport.”

Washington’s RFK Stadium will host an international match between Wales and South Africa on June 2.