The Dallas Jackals announced in a release on Tuesday that they would not compete in the 2021 Major League Rugby season with the intention to resume play in 2022.
According to the release, the decision was made in coordination with Major League Rugby and, “is based on a number of factors that will provide the Dallas Jackals, an expansion team, the best opportunity to succeed in its inaugural season and into the future.”
The Jackals – along with the Los Angeles Giltinis – were one of the two expansion teams set to join the competition in 2021. The news comes just 60 days before the Jackals were to begin their inaugural season against the Giltinis.
“This has been a challenging process, but we firmly believe this is the best decision for the long-term success of our team,” said Jackals President Scott Sonju. “The pandemic has obviously had a far-reaching impact on many businesses. For an expansion sports team it presents very specific challenges, from properly cultivating community and business relationships, to securing visas for international players – there are many challenges in a normal climate, let alone in the unusual climate of this past year. We know this organization is going to be highly successful. We know DFW is an important market for the league. But we also know that you only get one chance to make a first impression. After consulting with our partners and MLR Commissioner George Killebrew, we agreed introducing professional rugby to North Texas in 2022 is the right decision.”
The Jackals and the Giltinis were beneficiaries of an expansion draft following the Colorado Raptors’ decision to withdraw from the MLR. The draft helped fill in the two rosters with established MLR players that would ultimately help make the two sides competitive in their inaugural seasons.
Nine former Raptors had signed to play with the Jackals at the time of Dallas’ announcement on Tuesday. Those players include Kody O’Neil, Chad Gough, Chad London, Kelepi Fifita, Carlo de Nysschen, Ryan James, Campbell Johnstone, Robbie Petzer, and Marco Fepulea’i.
According to the release, these players will be entered into another expansion draft and will be available to compete for another MLR team in 2021.
Dallas’ decision to sit out 2021 not only leaves the league with more players looking for clubs, but it also leaves the league with a scheduling problem just two months prior to the start of their fourth season. The reshuffling of the schedule has already begun according to Major League Rugby.
The schedule is being adjusted and will be updated as soon as possible. Stay tuned!
— Major League Rugby (@usmlr) January 19, 2021