Major League Rugby’s newest franchise will be operating on island time.
Nothing is set in stone, but that’s the way that things are heading. MLR announced on Thursday afternoon that the league has received an expansion bid from Kanaloa Hawaii and, “have now entered into an exclusive negotiating period to finalize terms and meet the League’s expansion benchmarks before being ratified by a board vote to be formally admitted as an MLR member.”
Kanaloa Rugby general manager Cam Kilgour explained several details of the bid during an appearance on The MLR Rant Podcast on Wednesday evening.
Let's finally put these rumors to rest! Cam Kilgour of the Kanaloa Rugby team who is behind the MLR bid will be interview LIVE on the @MLRRant Podcast Show this Wednesday, July 8th @ 8:00 pm (CST) Not only will he reveal the result of the MLR bid but also share some MAJOR INFO about players, coaches, and more! THIS IS HUGE for Rugby fans!Follow us on social media and subscribe to our Youtube channel for more updates.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODmiW1ePYVg&t=2571shttps://www.facebook.com/mlrrant/
Posted by MLR Rant Podcast on Monday, July 6, 2020
According to Kilgour, the club has been working to establish relationships with Hawaiian Air, hotels, and the Hawaiian government to cover the costs of travel for visiting teams.
Rumblings of a Hawaiian team have been in the works for nearly two months now.
Scotty Stevenson of SKY Sport in New Zealand stirred everything up with a tweet back on May 14.
An HAWAIIAN team has been given official MLR invitation to join the US rugby comp in 2021.
Head Coach: Mick Byrne.
— Scotty Stevenson (@sumostevenson) May 15, 2020
Stevenson again stirred up the rumor mill again with a tweet on Tuesday.
Hawaii gets an MLR team. Unreal.
— Scotty Stevenson (@sumostevenson) July 8, 2020
Kilgour’s interview helped clear things up on Wednesday, and with the cat officially out of the bag, MLR followed up with a release of their own on Thursday. According to Kilgour, the club jumped at the opportunity to join become the 14th team in the league when the Colorado Raptors announced their intention to withdraw back on April 9.
“During the exclusive negotiating period Kanaloa Hawai’i must meet the set expansion terms, including the expansion fee. If all terms are met, the team would be formalized and ratified by a board vote and Kanaloa Hawai’i would become the 14th member for the 2021 MLR season,” MLR’s release reads.
According to DJCoil.com, Mick Byrne would serve as the head coach and Tamati Ellison as the assistant coach. Tracy Atiga would be the CEO with Matt Atiga serving as the director of high performance, and Joel Byrne as the director of strength and conditioning. Five former All Blacks – Anthony Tuitavake, Ben Atiga, Jerome Kaino, Joe Rokocoko, and John Afoa – are said to be a part of the ownership group.
While a staff is in place, Kanaloa Hawaii has some catching up to do in the player department. Having missed out on the dispersal draft and the inaugural Major League Rugby draft that took place back in June.
Kilgour said in his interview on Wednesday, and MLR confirmed in their release on Thursday, that their goal is to be ready for action when MLR is scheduled to resume come February 2021. While that would be a lofty goal regardless, the addition of a global pandemic will only make achieving that goal more difficult.