LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Professional rugby will come to Los Angeles next year when LA Coast Rugby joins Major League Rugby, bringing the sport to a city where interest in it has been steadily growing.
Both LA Coast Rugby and Rugby United New York will enter the league for the 2019 season, bringing the total number of teams in the year-old competition to nine. The Seattle Seawolves won the inaugural championship this year.
The steady growth of youth, high school and club rugby in the Los Angeles metropolitan area made the Southern California city an ideal location, the team’s founders said.
“Rugby already has a significant following in LA,” LA Coast Rugby co-founder Stuart Proctor told Reuters. “Our goal is to draw non-rugby fans to the sport.
“Our brand will reflect our fabulous surroundings, beaches, ocean, unparalleled climate, and diverse community we have here on the golden coast.
“We are hoping to draw on LA’s rich entertainment industry for celebrity support.”
The team will play a fast-paced, “Kiwi-type” style of rugby that suits the climate and firm underfoot conditions, he said.
“We have had ongoing dialog with strategic partners in New Zealand since March and we plan to integrate the modern fast-paced Kiwi rugby style into our rugby program,” he said.
He said the team will attract a following even though LA is already home to 10 professional sports teams, including two NFL teams, in part because the season runs from January to April when American football is in its offseason.
There may also be an appetite for rugby given the prevalence of concussions in the NFL.
“The concussion stats in rugby compared to football are far lower,” he said.
“Rugby is self-regulating to an extent. With no pads, no helmet, your basic human survival instincts kick in and you tend to naturally play safer to keep yourself safe.”
The team will announce the venue it will play in next month.
Editing by Greg Stutchbury