The Major League Rugby Collegiate Draft 2023 will take place on Thursday, August 17th, 2023, and air on Fox Sports 2 in the United States and The Rugby Network Internationally at 630PM ET.
MLR will use a “Draft and Follow” approach. Rights to drafted players will be assigned following the MLR Collegiate Draft. MLR teams may activate those rights at any point until the mid-point of the next competitive MLR season AFTER the player is eligible to play in the MLR (through graduation/expiry of college eligibility/relinquishment of college eligibility). Drafting teams may sign those players or trade player rights with other MLR teams.
A player that isn’t signed by a team within the above-mentioned rights period, shall enter the subsequent year’s Draft as long as they are eligible. If they lose their Collegiate Draft eligibility, they may enter the MLR if a team desires their services.
Players who are eligible for the 2023 Draft had declared by August 1, 2023, to have the opportunity to play for an MLR team. Players who are eligible but did not declare for the draft will not be eligible to participate in the MLR season following the eligibility expiration or graduation.
The eligibility criteria:
1. Must be enrolled in a US/Canadian University or College during the 2022-2023 academic year and be able to provide documentation (transcripts) as evidence of the same.
2. Must have competed in College or University Rugby during the 2022-2023 academic year and be able to provide documentation (registration information) as evidence of the season.
3. Must have completed 3 years of college OR be at least 21 years of age.
By declaring for the draft, players will be asked to acknowledge policies that include, but are not limited to:
- A player may potentially lose his college eligibility if an MLR contract is negotiated and/or signed;
- A player must be willing to relocate to any MLR team if he is drafted;
- A player must be willing to allow MLR to use his images and attributes during the 2023 MLR Draft.
- MLR teams retain the assignment rights of draftees through the mid-point of the next MLR season.
All MLR contracts fall under two categories:
- Standard Player Contract – Salaried, fixed term
- Associate Player Contract – Hourly wage
Once a player is drafted, the specifics of each contract, including type, compensation amounts, and term, will be negotiated between the League, the team, and the player, once the player completes his collegiate eligibility.
A player that isn’t signed within the rights period, may enter the subsequent year’s Draft as long as they are eligible. If they lose their Collegiate Draft eligibility, they may enter the MLR if a team desires their services.
Players who enroll but aren’t drafted may enter the MLR if a team desires their services and they are no longer eligible for the next Draft. If they are eligible for the next Draft, they must enroll again to join MLR.
3 Draft Rounds and Team Order
The Houston SaberCats traded with the Toronto Arrows for the second pick in the first round of the 2023 MLR Collegiate Draft, sending Canadian flyhalf Robbie Povey to the Arrows.
With a week to go, more trades could occur, and there have been several player-signing announcements in recent days. Look to https://djcoilrugby.com for individual player profile articles in the coming days and throughout the season. This will be the fourth year of publishing player profile articles for each MLR player.
Rugby ATL Team Relocation
Major League Rugby announced on August 2, 2023, that Rugby ATL was sold and would be relocating. Although the location has not been officially revealed, Bryan Ray of Americas Rugby News and Raysrugby has indicated that it will be in Los Angeles.
This would mean that the team would play in the Western Conference. It could also mean that other Conference changes could occur in 2024. The Chicago Hounds and NOLA Gold could potentially switch Conferences.