Stockyarders to Host Ontario in Exhibition Game
It’s part of long-term plans by the Midwest Rugby League (MWRL) to establish an expansion conference to become part of the USA Rugby League’s national competition by 2020.
MWRL CEO Mike Featherstone says it’s envisaged that Ontario could potentially be part of a new Midwest Conference by then, and as such, Saturday’s exhibition game is the first step along the road to achieving that goal.
“MWRL 2020 to the USARL is definitely the plan and we hope Ontario will be on board with us. This is hopefully the first step to us working together to build that expansion conference.”
Ontario Rugby League chairperson Carolyn Ritchie says the provincial body is keen to become a regular competitor across the border.
“We were disappointed that our application for the USARL was denied but still wanted to give our players plenty of playing opportunity after our domestic season. This game will also provide a great opportunity to showcase the great players that we have playing in Ontario. We are definitely open to joining a 2020 Midwest Conference, but we aren't giving up the possibility of still joining the USARL in 2019. We want to play in a competitive league and either one of these leagues would provide us that opportunity.”
All of Ontario's players are from the ORL’s domestic league and have played in the local competition in 2018.
The ORL’s set rule is that in order to qualify for selection to the provincial side, players must compete in the domestic competition.
“As far as expectations go, we're all just very excited as this is Ontario's first tour game and many of our players first provincial game. We are hoping to come away with the win, but at the end of the day we just want a great day of rugby league. Hopefully this game will build great relationships between our two teams and we can continue to grow it in the future.”
The match is scheduled for a 4:30pm CT kickoff at the Chicago Lions Rugby Stadium.