USA Rugby League

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Not to be confused with USA Rugby.

The USA Rugby League (USARL) is a semi-professional rugby league football competition based in the United States. The league was founded in 2011 by clubs that had broken with the established American National Rugby League (AMNRL), plus expansion franchises. The USARL began its inaugural season in 2011.


  • 1 History
    • 1.1 List of championship titles
  • 2 Season structure
  • 3 Teams
    • 3.1 Current teams
    • 3.2 Former teams
    • 3.3 Developmental teams
  • 4 Development programs
  • 5 See also
  • 6 References
  • 7 External links


The formation of the USA Rugby League was announced on January 12, 2011. Seven teams that had previously competed in the American National Rugby League (AMNRL), the United States' established rugby league organization and recognized governing body for the sport, announced they were breaking with the AMNRL to form a new league. The stated reason for the split was dissatisfaction with the governance of the AMNRL; the departing teams were unhappy with the lack of club involvement in the league's decision making. The new league includes its member clubs in its administration.

The departing AMNRL teams were the Boston Thirteens, the Washington, D.C. Slayers, the Fairfax Eagles, the Jacksonville Axemen, the New Haven Warriors, the Philadelphia Fight, and the Pittsburgh Vipers; they were to be joined by two new teams, the New Jersey Turnpike Titans and Kodiak Rugby from New York City. Before the season Pittsburgh and Fairfax became "developmental" teams in the new league outside of the top-tiered competition; Fairfax subsequently suspended operations. The New York team was unable to find a suitable stadium in the city, and instead became the Rhode Island Rebellion. One additional team, Oneida FC, joined the top-tiered competition for the 2011 season.

On January 13, 2011, the USARL announced that Peter Illfield, chairman of the Philadelphia Fight, would be the league's first Chairman. The league's first event was a rugby league nines tournament in the Philadelphia area on May 28–29, 2011. Round 1 of the regular season championship kicked off on June 4; the Jacksonville Axemen won the minor premiership with the best regular season record. In the inaugural Grand Final on August 27, the Philadelphia Fight defeated the New Haven Warriors to win their first ever national championship.

In 2013 the USARL and AMNRL increased their focus on reunification, particularly after the United States' encouraging showing at the 2013 Rugby League World Cup. An independent commission assembled to lead negotiations, however the USARL clubs eventually pulled out. USARL commissioner Peter Illfield blamed apparent dysfunction and disorganization in the AMNRL organization for this decision. The USARL subsequently invited AMNRL clubs to join their ranks as full members and initiated a four-team expansion.

The competition will be split into two conferences to accommodate expansion and reduce the operating costs of all clubs. In addition, the Northern Virginia Eagles withdrew from the AMNRL and will join the USARL Northern Conference in 2014.

List of championship titles

Season Championship Final Information Regular Season Premiers
Champions Score Runners-Up
2011 Philadelphia colours.svg Philadelphia Fight
28 – 26
New Zealand colours.svg New Haven Warriors Jacksonville colors.svg Jacksonville Axemen (14 pts)
2012 Jacksonville colors.svg Jacksonville Axemen
28 – 22
Ipswich Colours.svg Boston 13s Jacksonville colors.svg Jacksonville Axemen (16 pts)
2013 Philadelphia colours.svg Philadelphia Fight
28 – 22
Jacksonville colors.svg Jacksonville Axemen Philadelphia colours.svg Philadelphia Fight (14 pts)
2014 Philadelphia colours.svg Philadelphia Fight
30 – 18
Jacksonville colors.svg Jacksonville Axemen N/A

Season structure

Beginning in their inaugural 2011 year, the USARL season consists of an eight-game regular season, followed by a playoffs series culminating in a Grand Final for the National Championship. The first event of the season was a pre-season rugby league nines tournament. The regular season runs through June and July, with each team playing every other team, and one team twice, in four home and four away games. Teams qualify for the playoffs based on point differential, with a win counting for 2 points, a draw for 1, a loss for 0, and a forfeit for −2. The playoffs consist of a two-round single-elimination tournament in August. The season's top four teams will compete in a semi-final round, with the two winners going on to the Grand Final.


Eight teams played in the USARL's "Top Tier" competition in 2011. These teams include five former AMNRL teams, the Boston Thirteens, the Jacksonville Axemen, the New Haven Warriors, the Philadelphia Fight, and the Washington DC Slayers, plus three new teams, the New Jersey Turnpike Titans, the Rhode Island Rebellion, and Oneida FC. These teams have committed to the league's standards of operations, including travel, venue, and scheduling obligations. On December 12, 2011 the USARL announced another team, the Baltimore Blues, would join the league for the 2012 season to take over Titans's spot in the USARL.

The New Haven Warriors and Oneida FC withdrew after the 2012 season, and the 2013 season ran as a six-team competition. The competition was split into two conferences for the 2014 season, to accommodate four expansion clubs and reduce operational costs.

Current teams

Northern Conference
Colors Club City State Stadium Foundation Joined
Baltimore Blues Baltimore  Maryland N/A 2012 2012
Ipswich Colours.svg
Boston Thirteens Boston  Massachusetts MIT Steinbrenner Stadium 2009 2011
North Queensland colours.svg
Brooklyn Kings Brooklyn  New York 2014 2014
Fairfax Eagles colors.svg
Northern Virginia Eagles Manassas  Virginia Grizzly Sports Complex 2007 2014
Philadelphia colours.svg
Philadelphia Fight Conshohocken  Pennsylvania A. A. Garthwaite Stadium 1998 2011
RI Rebellion colors.png
Rhode Island Rebellion Providence  Rhode Island Classical High School 2011 2011
St. George colours.svg
Washington DC Slayers Washington  Washington, D.C. Duke Ellington Field 2003 2011
Southern Conference
Colors Club City State Stadium Foundation Joined
Atlanta Rhinos Atlanta  Georgia Atlanta Silverbacks Park 2014 2014
Wests Panthers Colours.svg
Central Florida Warriors DeLand  Florida Spec Martin Stadium 2014 2014
Jacksonville colors.svg
Jacksonville Axemen Jacksonville  Florida Hodges Stadium 2006 2011
Central Comets colours.svg
Tampa Mayhem Tampa Bay  Florida 2014 2014

Former teams

Former USARL teams
Colors Club City State Stadium Foundation Final
Wests Tigers colours.svg
New Jersey Turnpike Titans Jersey City  New Jersey Lincoln Park 2011 2011
New Haven colours.svg
New Haven Warriors New Haven  Connecticut Ken Strong Stadium 2006 2012
Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg
Oneida FC Boston  Massachusetts MIT Steinbrenner Stadium 2011 2012

Developmental teams

As part of the 2011 season, a former AMNRL team, the Pittsburgh Sledgehammers, participated as a "developmental team", playing a more limited schedule while developing the club for future seasons. Several other clubs have registered "developing" teams: these include the Denver Wolverines, the Los Angeles Raiders, the Orange County Outlaws, the Seattle Force and Texas Rugby League (which will field two teams, the Dallas Dragons and the Houston Hornets). Several of these are established developing teams that were previously aligned with the AMNRL; the USARL has committed to support them in their development. Another team, the Utah Avalanche, were formerly affiliated as a developmental team, and participated in the 2011 USARL 9s tournament.

In 2011 the Jacksonville Axemen also launched a reserve grade competition, the "Firehouse Subs" Southeastern Rugby League Championship, which acts as a feeder club system for the Axemen to further develop players. The competing teams are the Daytona Gearheads, the Jacksonville Hatchets, and the Orlando Adrenaline. A fourth team, the Tampa Inferno, joined the championship in 2013. From 2014, Daytona and Orlando will form a joint venture Central Florida side and compete in the USARL Southern Conference.

USARL Developing Teams
Colors Club City State Foundation
Dallas Dragons Dallas  Texas 2011
Western Reds colours.svg
Daytona Gearheads Daytona Beach  Florida 2011
Western Suburbs colours.svg
Denver Wolverines Denver  Colorado 2010
Rochdale colours.svg
Houston Hornets Houston  Texas 2014
St. George colours.svg
Jacksonville Hatchets Jacksonville  Florida 2011
Canberra colours.svg
Los Angeles Raiders Los Angeles  California 2011
University colours.svg
Orange County Outlaws Orange County  California 2011
Cronulla colours.svg
Orlando Adrenaline Orlando  Florida 2011
Pittsburgh Sledgehammers Pittsburgh  Pennsylvania 2009
Ireland colours.svg
Seattle Force Seattle  Washington 2010

Development programs

The USARL has supported the establishment of the American Youth Rugby League Association (AYRLA), a clinic and game program for juniors run through high schools in Rhode Island and as of 2012 Philadelphia.

Mikhael Shammas of the Boston 13s has also endeavoured to establish a North American Match Officials Association to improve officiating quality of the game within North America.

The 2013 season has seen substantial growth of the game with the establishment of a New England 9s tournament and an under 23's competition, as well as regular school competitions in Rhode Island and Boston under the ARLYA banner.

In 2014, the league established a touring developmental side, the USA Pioneers, to play friendly matches against foreign nations. They will complete a two match tour in Jamaica in April 2014.

See also

Portal icon Rugby league portal


  1. ^ Mascord, Steve (January 12, 2011). "Discord 2011: Edition 2". Archived from the original on January 19, 2011. Retrieved January 13, 2011. 
  2. ^ "New Rugby League Competition Announced". Rugby Magazine. January 12, 2011. Archived from the original on January 19, 2011. Retrieved January 13, 2011. 
  3. ^ "Breakaway league launched in the US". January 12, 2011. Archived from the original on January 19, 2011. Retrieved January 13, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Eagles Cease Operations". April 12, 2011. Retrieved December 13, 2011. 
  5. ^ Mark Reynolds (July 23, 2011). "Providence-based rugby team battles for recognition". The Providence Journal. Retrieved December 13, 2011. 
  6. ^ "USARL Constitution, Teams, Entry Qualifications Announced". Philadelphia Fight Rugby News and Press. February 18, 2011. Retrieved February 21, 2011. 
  7. ^ "USA Rugby League (USARL) Names Peter Illfield Chairman". USA Rugby League. January 13, 2011. Retrieved February 4, 2011. 
  8. ^ "USA Rugby League name a Chairman-the Fight's own Peter Illfield". Philadelphia Fight Rugby News and Press. January 13, 2011. Archived from the original on January 19, 2011. Retrieved January 13, 2011. 
  9. ^ Daniel Andruczyk (August 28, 2011). "It's Hard to Keep a Game of Rugby League Down". Retrieved August 30, 2011. 
  10. ^ Mascord, Steve (March 12, 2014). "American Civil War Wages On". Forty20 Magazine. Retrieved March 18, 2014. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ "2014 Season IV schedule is here". USA Rugby League. March 16, 2014. Retrieved March 18, 2014. 
  13. ^ "USARL Constitution, Teams, Entry Qualifications Announced". USA Rugby League. February 17, 2011. Retrieved March 9, 2011. 
  14. ^ "USARL welcomes the Blues". USA Rugby League. December 12, 2011. Retrieved December 12, 2011. 
  15. ^ "USARL confirms new schedule for 2013 season". USA Rugby League. May 8, 2013. Retrieved January 30, 2014. 
  16. ^
  17. ^ "USA Developing Regions". USA Rugby League. 2011. Retrieved March 29, 2011. 
  18. ^ "Draw for this Weekends 9′s Announced". USA Rugby League. May 23, 2011. Retrieved June 10, 2011. 
  19. ^ "Three New Teams Coming to Florida". Jacksonville Axemen. May 27, 2011. Retrieved June 14, 2011. 
  20. ^
  21. ^ Youth program expands to Philadelphia
  22. ^
  23. ^

External links

Competition Teams