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Bristol looking for MLR buy-in


'We need to be part of it' - Bristol exploring MLR market

Bristol Bears are looking to follow the lead of Scottish Rugby and buy into one of the new Major League Rugby franchises in America.

The SRU recently became the first tier one national governing body to link with an MRL club, acquiring a minority stake in Washington-based Old Glory DC, who will play in an expanded 12-team MLR competition from February 2020.

“The US market has long been a strategic target for us and the potential and passion for rugby will undoubtedly grow in the years to come,” said the Scottish chief operating officer, Dominic McKay, who will sit on the franchise board.

That is a situation Bristol majority shareholder Steve Lansdown could soon find himself in as well if the Bears’ exploration of investment in a sister club in the new USA league comes to fruition. 

In an interview with The Rugby Paper, Lansdown said: “The future of rugby is on a world-wide basis and we need to be a part of it. Interest is being raised and we’re exploring what might be out there.

“The reality is that as a business there are opportunities in America that we’re looking at, not just in New York but right across the country with what’s happening in MLR.

“There’s two aspects to this: one, from a player recruitment aspect it provides an opportunity to give your own developing players opportunities to play in competitive leagues while tapping into their growing pool of players and two, you can develop your brand because American clubs will become significant players in the market in coming years.”

Nine teams are taking part in this season’s American league and its profile is set to grow with the recruitment by the New York-based Rugby United of French international Mathieu Bastareaud, who will link up with the club on a temporary basis following the end of the 2019 World Cup in Japan. 

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'We need to be part of it' - Bristol exploring MLR market