New York rugby league team applies to join the RFL
Jarryd Hayne is one star reportedly lined up for a move to the Big Apple
A New York-based consortium has formally applied to the Rugby Football League (RFL) to enter a team in Britain’s professional ranks in 2019.
The Guardian reports that the consortium is backed by two investors, who will provide $10million (£7.5m) in funding for a New York team to join England’s third tier, League 1.
It would be a similar venture to that of the Toronto Wolfpack, which won the League 1 title this season and had average crowds of more than 7,000.
Yorkshire-based businessman Ricky Wilby, who co-founded the New York consortium, says there are also plans to play a Super League match in the US next year.
“Should we be accepted, we’d like to take a Super League game there,” he told The Guardian. “We’ve spoken to one or two about it.
“If we go in at League 1, which is the plan, we’d want a squad of around 30 with a minimum of five players from the US.
“We’ve got a responsibility to ourselves and the public to perform on the field but we’ve got a responsibility to the amateur game in New York and the United States.”
The New York team would plan to play at the Red Bull Arena in New Jersey. Potential rugby league stars have already been sounded out to join the new venture.
The Daily Telegraph in Australia reports that the consortium is ready to pay AU$1m (£592,000) a year to NRL stars to join the New York-based team.
Reported players being targeted for the team include Jarryd Hayne, Johnathan Thurston, Billy Slater and Greg Inglis. Fiji star Hayne is no stranger to the US, having made a short-lived crossover to the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers.
Player agent David Riolo told the Telegraph: “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.
“If the club can tap into the American TV dollars, with the right backing behind them, you only need a small niche market to be successful.”
Meanwhile, Tom Scott, a representative for the investors, says the New York team will be self-funded and will not seek grants from the league.
He said: “We have a small consortium of high-networking individuals, one member of which has made New York his home, and all have a significant love for the game. We will be self-sufficient.”