Watch Major League Rugby in Asia – The Rugby Network
Major League Rugby and RugbyPass have announced a partnership that will see all of the MLR matches, highlights and other content streamed for free in Asia, and around the world, on a new streaming platform called The Rugby Network.
Major League commissioner George Killebrew said: “The Rugby Network provides rugby fans access to high-quality content for free as well as generates awareness of the sport to create the next generation of fans. The Rugby Network will be an exciting development for MLR and North American rugby as a whole. We are looking forward to working with RugbyPass to launch this platform that will be the definitive home for rugby fans across North America.”
The Rugby Network
On March 11 2021, the Major League Rugby had announced via the MLR social media platforms: “The fans asked, and we’re excited to answer! Next week, a brand new streaming platform is launching to serve as the home of all MLR matches, highlights, and behind the scenes content for fans worldwide! Oh, and we almost forgot to mention…it’s free”.
Killebrew also told The Guardian “The primary objective is to broaden and deepen a fan base for the sport in the US” adding “Now, we can control our own destiny. The Rugby Network will be the No1 marketing initiative for this league because it has the biggest upside. And I guess part of the best news for the fans, you know, is it’s free.”
Sky New Zealand (who own RugbyPass) CEO Neil Martin, said it aimed “to create a community of rugby fans and remove the hurdles they face across North America by providing them with the best news, highlights, podcasts, live matches and live blog feeds.”
The media company said: “The Rugby Network (TRN) will provide free global streaming services to all league matches and 24/7 digital content to help rugby thrive, exposing new audiences to the sport.”
In the MLR press announcement, they added that the future expansion to all over-the-top (OTT) devices, will be made possible through the ViewLift platform. They claim this is a leading end-to-end digital solutions partner to sports leagues and media companies around the world.
The Rugby Network App
The Rugby Network provides a free subscription (you do need to register) and has made an Android and iOS app available for the MRL.
A free Rugby Network subscription provides access to:
- Every MLR game live in 1080p HD
- Full replays and highlights
- Weekly rugby shows
- Rugby documentaries
- Latest news from the MLR
- Apps for iOS and Android
- Airplay and Chromecast support
The partnership starts on 20th March 2021 via www.therugbynetwork.com for free and includes live streaming of select MLR matches, highlights, and exclusive behind-the-scenes content.
Major League Rugby magazine show – MLR All Access
Marc Stcherbina posted this week: “Even more exciting is that Stacy Paetz and I will be hosting the first-ever Major League Rugby magazine show airing weekly on Tuesdays, 5:30 pm EST on RugbyPass.”
MLR said of the MLR All Access show “League insiders Stacy Paetz and Marc Stcherbina are hosting the half-hour show which includes exclusive features, match analysis, and behind the scenes content. MLR All Access will also be available for a replay every week on The Rugby Network.”
2021 is the fourth Major League Rugby season in North America, and there are twelve teams in the league spread across seven states – with one team based in Canada. Dallas hopes to join the MLR in 2022.
The full schedule of MLR matches can be seen here.
- LA Giltinis: Based in Los Angeles, the LA Giltinis have star signings in former Wallabys Adam Ashley-Cooper and Matt Giteau, as well as Canadian international DTH Van der Merwe, and a host of international and US national players.
- Houston Sabercats: The Sabercats include Jinho Mun (a Korean listed player) in their squad.
- Austin Gilgronis: The Gilgronis are the second club owned by Australian Adam Gilchrist (The LA Giltinis is the other), and the squad also comprises national USA and international rugby players, including former Super Rugby player Jamie Mackintosh from NZ.
- New England Free Jacks: Among the international squad in the Massachusetts-based team are Dougie Fife (Scotland international) and Tera Mtembu from the SA Sharks Super Rugby side. Japanese international prop Kensuke Hatakeyama is also in the team.
- Nola Gold: Based in New Orleans, the squad is mostly made up of American rugby players. The website was down at the time of writing. Former Namibian international scrum-half Damian Stevens has joined this season.
- Old Glory DC: The Old Glory DC team is based in Leesburg, Virginia and among the squad is James King who played for Valley Rugby Club in Hong Kong.
- Rugby Atl: The Atlanta rugby team is another mix of local USA talent and international players from around the world. Former Pumas (Argentina) centre/wing Bautista Ezcurra has joined them in 2021.
- Rugby United New York: Fijian Sevens player Apenisa Cakaubalavu is one of the standout names for the NY-based rugby team. Mathieu Bastareaud played for the team in 2020, while Ben Foden (former England international) enters his third season with the club. Former All Blacks and Crusaders scrum-half Andy Ellis is with the team in 2021.
- San Diego Legion: The Legion have a host of former South African players in the form of Cecil Afrika (Sevens Rugby) and Bjorn Basson, as well as England international Chris Robshaw.
- Seattle Seawolves: The Seawolves have a mixed squad but fewer international star signings with several local players in the team. Ross Neal has joined from English Premiership London Irish and formerly Wasps.
- Toronto Arrows: The Canadian rugby team have a healthy number of South American representation as well as Canadian and European players in the squad. Former Wales and B&I Lions coach, Rob Howley, joins as a coaching consultant.
- Utah Warriors: The Warriors is another team with South African, American and Pacific island players in their ranks.
It was also reported in Japanese media that Akihito Yamada is looking to play in Major League Rugby, possibly with the Seattle Seawolves.
There is a great wrap up of player transfers for the 2021 season here.
Rugby in the United States
MLR said that an estimated 1.3 million people participate in rugby in North America, with a further 8.8 million active fans. This number is expected to grow fourfold over the next decade claims the MLR.
In addition, it’s expected that USA Rugby will bid for one of the upcoming Rugby World Cups in 2027 or 2031.
Rugby Streaming in Asia
- What OTT Rugby Streaming options are there in Asia?
- Watch Super Rugby AU on World Rugby for free in Asia.
- RugbyPass to stream Super Rugby Aotearoa in Asia.
- How to watch the 2021 Six Nations in Asia.