USA Rugby League Domestic Competition

The USA Rugby League LLC (Domestic Competition) runs the official national competition for rugby league in the US as an amateur rugby league football competition in the United States.

 

The league consists of eleven teams located in east coast, with a development conference in the Mid-West states consisting of three teams. The regular season is played May to August.

The league was founded in 2011 by clubs that had broken with the established American National Rugby League (AMNRL), plus expansion franchises. The USARL began its inaugural season in 2011 with eight teams.

History

2011–2012: Foundation

The formation of the USA Rugby League was announced on 12 January 2011. Seven teams that had previously competed in the American National Rugby League, the United States' established rugby league organization and recognized governing body for the sport, announced they were breaking with the AMNRL to form a new league. The stated reason for the split was dissatisfaction with the governance of the AMNRL; the departing teams were unhappy with the lack of club involvement in the league's decision making, and the new league was founded with the principle of including its member clubs in its administration.

The departing AMNRL teams were the Boston Thirteens, the Washington, D.C. Slayers, the Fairfax Eagles, the Jacksonville Axemen, the New Haven Warriors, the Philadelphia Fight, and the Pittsburgh Vipers; they were to be joined by two new teams, the New Jersey Turnpike Titans and Kodiak Rugby from New York City. Before the season Pittsburgh and Fairfax became "developmental" teams in the new league outside of the top-tiered competition; Fairfax subsequently suspended operations. The New York team was unable to find a suitable stadium in the city, and instead became the Rhode Island Rebellion. One additional team, Oneida FC, joined the top-tiered competition for the 2011 season.

On 13 January 2011, the USA Rugby League announced that Peter Illfield, chairman of the Philadelphia Fight, would be the league's first Chairman. The league's first event was a rugby league nines tournament in the Philadelphia area on 28–29 May 2011. Round 1 of the regular season championship kicked off on 4 June; the Jacksonville Axemen won the minor premiership with the best regular season record. In the inaugural Grand Final on 27 August, the Philadelphia Fight defeated the New Haven Warriors to win their first ever national championship.

 

2013–2014: Expansion

In 2013 the USA Rugby League and AMNRL increased their focus on reunification, particularly after the United States' encouraging showing at the 2013 Rugby League World Cup. An independent commission assembled to lead negotiations, however the USARL clubs eventually pulled out. The USA Rugby League subsequently invited AMNRL clubs to join their ranks as full members and initiated a four-team expansion.

In 2014, the USA Rugby League expanded to 10 teams, adding expansion squads Atlanta RhinosCentral Florida Warriors, and Tampa Mayhem. In addition, the Northern Virginia Eagles withdrew from the AMNRL and joined the USA Rugby League. To reduce operating costs, the competition was split into two conferences (North and South). 

2015–present: Unification

In 2015, the AMNRL folded, leaving the USA Rugby League as the undisputed top-level rugby league competition in the United States. Three former AMNRL clubs joined the USA Rugby League; Bucks County SharksConnecticut Wildcats, and New York Knights. The Delaware Black Foxes also joined as an expansion squad.

 

For 2016, the Connecticut Wildcats left the competition and were replaced by the White Plains Wombats.

 

Before the 2017 season, the D.C. Slayers and Bucks County Sharks left the competition, and the USA Rugby League abolished the division structure within the North Conference.

 

Before the 2018 season, the Central Florida Warriors left the competition and were replaced by Southwest Florida Copperheads and Danny Hanson was appointed the league's second Chairman. The Rhode Island Rebellion also left the competition. The New York Knights left the competition after the 2018 season.

For 2020, due to the COVID-19 epidemic, the USA Rugby League cancelled the season.  A few matches were played between the Tampa Mayhem and Jacksonville Axemen, Northern Virginia Eagles and Delaware Black Foxes, and Northern Virginia Eagles and Cleveland Rugby League.

Minor Premiership and Grand Final Champions

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