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MLR to stage NFL style draft, as Raptors walk out on the league

By Adam McQueen
The Seattle Seawolves won the inaugural MLR title. Photo / Darren Zemanek/Seattle Seawolves

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The MLR is preparing for major changes as they look ahead to their fourth professional season – the fledgling competition recently announced the creation of their inaugural collegiate draft set to take place in June.


The draft will commence over a two day period, on June 13 and 14. It will only be open to collegiate players based out of the United States and the players must have played three years of college rugby or be at least 21 years-old.

The draft will be at least four rounds and the selection process will be determined by the standings at the end of the 2020 season. The MLR halted play in early March, before canceling the entire season after five games. New franchises Dallas and Los Angeles, who are slated to join the league in 2021, will get the first and second selections.

Establishing a draft system to bolster the league with more young, domestic players is essential as the MLR expands.

“Collegiate rugby has a rich history in the United States with over 900 active teams across the country. The immense talent in our Colleges and Universities has shown itself over the past three seasons and is only poised to grow. We are truly excited about creating this pathway for the next generation of MLR players,” said MLR Commissioner, George Killebrew on the league’s announcement.


However, the Colorado Raptors will not take part in the event as one of the founding franchises announced their withdrawal from the league. Finalists in the inaugural campaign, the Raptors sputtered last season and had middling results in 2020 as other franchises injected more talent into their squads. Colorado brought in Rene Ranger and Digby Ioane this year, however, Ioane never ended up suiting up for the team.

The Raptors withdrawal means that there are now currently 13 teams competing in the fourth season of MLR.

Despite the adverse impact COVID-19 had on pushing USA Rugby towards bankruptcy, the cancellation of the 2020 season will allow the MLR to roll over those production costs slated for this year into 2021. The inclusion of two new expansion franchises, plus the new vacancy that Colorado’s departure offers, should also help provide more immediate financial stability moving forward.

Potential 2020 MLR Draft order

  1. Dallas/LA
  2. Dallas/LA
  3. Houston
  4. Austin
  5. New England
  6. Seattle
  7. Atlanta
  8. Utah
  9. New York
  10. NOLA
  11. Old Glory
  12. Toronto
  13. San Diego


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