What is MLR? – MLR Explained

Sports are popular all over the world. Some sports are more popular than others. These sports can be easily guessed, like football (association) and basketball. Cricket is also very popular, not to mention sports like tennis. 

However, in the United States, football is more popular than soccer, not to mention sports like baseball and hockey. Africa also has its own fair share of sports, even sports betting. There are a plethora of betting apps in Kenya, as well as other African countries. 

Rugby is a sport which is mostly popular in Europe, New Zealand and Australia. However, it is also present in the United States and its most prestigious form is the MLR.

MLR – Major League Rugby

Following the typical naming schemes that are associated with professional leagues in the United States and Canada, Major League Rugby is no exception in this regard. It has a similar naming scheme to MLB, which immediately makes it familiar to most sports lovers.

Given that it was founded in 2017, its name makes sense, particularly because most sports aficionados now have access to the internet, and would look something up quicker than users from three decades ago. 

MLR is the highest tier of rugby union in the United States and Canada. It is where the top tier rugby teams meet and compete for the title of best rugby team, for the season.

Mrgoggins90, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

MLR Organization

Like most professional leagues in the United States, the MLR is organized into two conferences, the Western and Eastern Conference. Each of the two has 6 teams, making a total of 12 rugby union teams in the United States, or rather, eleven in the US and one in Canada.

The MLR had different organizational periods in 2017-2019. In 2020, they adopted the conference system. Regardless, the MLR season lasts from March until August, the finals being played in August. The teams in the MLR are franchise teams, similar to how other professional leagues function in the US and Canada.

The format is each team playing 10 games, or twice against the opponents in their conference, and another 6 against the teams from other conferences, three home and three away. The three best teams from each of the conferences play in a mini playoffs, where the winner of each conference faces one another for the title. 

How Popular is It?

The MLR rapidly grew since its inception and first season in 2018. However, compared to other already established sports, it is still very low on the food chain. Even though rugby union is a sport with a rich tradition, already established in most parts of the world, it is a relatively new sport in the United States, at least when it comes to structure and media attention. 

Rugby union is gaining popularity, in Europe and even more important, in the United States. The MLR is the highest tier league of rugby union in the US and Canada. It is relatively new, but still among the more trending sports and leagues in the US.