Berliner Tageblatt - Australia's NRL in talks for 10-team US competition: report

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Australia's NRL in talks for 10-team US competition: report
Australia's NRL in talks for 10-team US competition: report / Photo: © GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP

Australia's NRL in talks for 10-team US competition: report

Talks are under way to create an elite 10-team 'NRL America' competition as rugby league looks to broaden its footprint in the lucrative United States market, reports said Sunday.

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Rugby League America (RLA) boss Steve Scanlan has met with Australian counterpart Peter V'landys and will make a formal proposal next weekend, News Corp. newspapers reported.

It is envisaged the league would be operational by 2025 with five franchises based in the east and five in the west, potentially with affiliate ties to Australia National Rugby League (NRL) clubs.

"I've held preliminary talks with Peter V'landys on behalf of our consortium," Scanlan told the newspaper group, adding that the discussions were "positive".

"We could certainly do this without the NRL, but if the NRL was to come on board, the synergies and partnership opportunities would be enormous for the game in America and lend an amount of legitimacy to what we are doing.

"We are absolutely open to the competition being called NRL America if the NRL wanted to be a part of it," he added.

V'landys stressed the talks were preliminary.

"I wouldn't rule it out (the NRL backing an American league) absolutely, but we need competent people who want to drive it," he said.

"We can't do everything. We would need people on the ground with the drive and passion to run an American NRL competition."

According to News Corp., the RLA-led consortium have been working on the NRL America plan for five years and have already struck deals with a hotel partner and airline to cover accommodation and travel.

They are also reportedly in talks with US broadcasters.

"We don't necessarily expect the NRL to invest financially but if we could have co-branding and form a partnership with the NRL, this can be an untapped goldmine," said Scanlan.

Rugby league is hugely popular in Australia and the NRL has long wanted to grow its presence in America.

The new NRL season opens in Las Vegas next weekend -- the first time the competition has staged games in the United States.

A separate report on Saturday said the cash-rich NRL was considering buying the English Super League as part of its expansion plans.

The potential move comes after the NRL reported 18 percent growth in revenue to Aus$701 million (US$460 million) -- including Aus$58 million in profit -- from a record-breaking 2023 season.

B.Shevchenko--BTB