The Colorado Raptors announced that they will be leaving Major League Rugby effective May 2, 2020. The Raptors are one of the inaugural MLR teams and built the first only rugby facility in the United States in Infinity Park at Glendale.
The town of Glendale owns the facility and the operational costs, as well as the composition of teams were considerations in the team moving in an unspecified direction.
The team indicated in their release that they want to structure the team in a way that will provide greater opportunities for U.S. players to develop and be ready to play for the National team.
Rumors swirled around rugby circles before the beginning of the 2020 season that the Raptors would leave MLR following the conclusion of the season. Rugby journalist Pat Clifton discussed that the Raptors would withdraw and that potentially a new league would form with other U.S teams. That was not acknowledged by the Raptors, nor by the league, as it would have been detrimental to the league and its share holders.
It is unfortunate that one of the leading rugby teams will move in a different direction. Expect them to emerge in 2021 with new goals that will continue to foster rugby in the U.S. at RugbyTownUSA.
Major League Rugby will also survive with Los Angeles and Dallas joining the league in 2021. Will a 14th team be fast-tracked ahead of the Collegiate Draft June 13-14? That would certainly make scheduling easier in 2021.