By Brian Lowe, Date: 8/8/18
As part of its plans to establish a new Midwest Conference for potential inclusion by USA Rugby League (USARL) by 2020, the Midwest Rugby League (MWRL) has organized an exhibition game for this Saturday in Chicago.
The Chicago Stockyarders will host the Ontario Rugby League provincial team from Canada.
MWRL CEO Mike Featherstone says the match is about growing the Stockyarders brand, as well as building bridges with Ontario.
“MWRL 2020 to the USARL is definitely the plan and we hope Ontario will be on board with us,” he says.
“This is hopefully the first step to us working together to build that expansion conference.
“We think this will be our toughest game to date and we see ourselves as the underdog for this game. It will be a great test to see where we truly are.”
Featherstone adds that a second developmental game is also on the cards this week.
“We are also hoping to play Stockyarders v Joliet although it depends on the availability as Ontario is the focus.”
The MWRL is looking to get a developmental team up and running in Joliet, Illinois, to bring another local team within the larger Chicago area into the fold as it builds towards the 2020 goal.
This Saturday’s match follows a Nines exhibition game in Chi-town last month that featured the Stockyarders and a newly formed rugby league squad from Cleveland.
The long-range plan is that a Cleveland team could become part of a Midwest expansion conference.
The USARL currently has eleven teams split into two conferences, North and South, that make up its national clubs competition.