The California Rugby League (CRL) has opted to take the drastic step of realigning its competition in the wake of an all-in brawl involving three teams during a practice session in southern California.
The fight broke out last Saturday when the LA Mongrel, San Diego Barracudas and a rugby union side from Orange County were supposed to be having a practice scrimmage in San Diego.
Video recorded on a mobile phone clearly shows players fighting.
In an official statement issued by the CRL said, “California Rugby League has been made aware of an incident at an event in San Diego featuring San Diego Barracudas, Los Angeles Mongrel and Orange County Rugby Club.
“Effective immediately, all teams involved will be suspended indefinitely from representing California Rugby League in competition.
“We are here to support the growth of the sport of rugby league in California.”
League founder Tom Stevenson said coaches from the two CRL teams will be moved on. And in the cases of Los Angeles and San Diego, entirely new teams will be established to replace the Mongrel and Barracudas.
This comes in the week leading up to the CRL’s first-ever Grand Final, the Mine Digital California Rugby League World Championship, in San Francisco this Saturday, September 25.
“It’s disappointing this is what we are talking about in the lead-up to our biggest event to date at Boxer Stadium this Saturday,” Stevenson told RugbyLeaguePlanet.
“We have identified the issue and put together a team to reconstruct the southern California portion of the league.”
In separate news, the CRL has announced that it is merging with the stalled North America Rugby League (NARL) West. Stevenson said he and NARL West CEO Lars Havens had been in talks prior to the weekend brawl and their merger negotiations had been progressing well.
NARL West clubs Las Vegas Blackjacks and Phoenix Venom have already indicated that they will join the CRL, as have the San Diego Swell, who will replace the Barracudas.
And in a move that will further bolster the game out west, Stevenson has confirmed to RLP that the Utah Rugby League will also become part of the new-look expanded competition in 2022.